Drinking tea is royally delicious. No, really, drinking tea became the “it” thing after Catherine of Braganza, married to King Charles II, introduced the beverage to the British court as her drink of choice. Tea has its origins in southwestern China, where it was consumed for healing intentions, and after gaining acceptance within the British aristocracy, the country began to import an abundance of tea and associated accessories. The popular concoction — Brits prefer to have it with sugar and milk — became available to all social classes and was not just to be enjoyed by high society.
Today, we can savor high tea just like the British royalty. So put on your favorite party dress and head to one of these Atlanta spots for tea and crumpets. Or, stay at home and host your own affair! After all, nothing really tops an afternoon spent sipping tea with your bestie over a blueberry scone.
Tea Time in the City
3434 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30326 • (404) 237-2700
Cost: $60 per person
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., inside The Lobby Lounge
For the past 32 years, afternoon tea has been a tradition at The Ritz-Carlton, and you’ll definitely want to set aside at least two hours to delight in all their offerings. Start off the reservation-only service with a glass of bubbly followed by a tiny bowl of fresh strawberries saturated in Grand Marnier and whipped cream — it’s to die for! Then, select from a number of teas, including Wild Blossoms & Berries (blackberry and black currant with lemongrass, hibiscus, chamomile and mint) or Jasmine Downy Pearls (hand-rolled leaves form pearls and jasmine notes). A favorite for guests is the caffeinated Vanilla Bean, which comes infused with caramel, Ceylon and China black teas.
As you settle into your comfy leather armchair, you’ll appreciate the live pianist playing songs like “When You Wish Upon a Star” in the background. Indulge in everything from warm scones (accompanied by lemon curd and clotted cream) to tasty tea sandwiches, such as smoked salmon topped with American caviar or the traditional egg salad with truffle. And save room for dessert because the raspberry macaroons are a must-have!
1645 McLendon Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 • [email protected]
Cost: $35 for two people
Hours: Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (closed Monday). High tea reservations require a 24-hour advance reservation.
In 2005, Katrell Christie and Nick Parsons decided to buy an existing coffee shop and turn it into an Alice in Wonderland-style tea venture situated in the heart of Candler Park. About two years in, the pair began offering high-tea service at the eclectic establishment that’s filled with mismatched tea cups, lamp shades, bird cages and much more. Apart from what meets the eye, tea lovers are drawn to this shop for a variety of other outstanding reasons. “It’s our scone recipe, which goes back to my family in England,” says Nick. “The chocolate chip scone is very popular, and we have close to 100 teas on hand.” Popular teas include Orange Ginger Mint, Ginseng Peppermint, Coconut Hibiscus and Ginger Peach. “We just started carrying about half a dozen of The Vampyre Tea Company’s teas,” Nick says. “It comes with flavors like Strawberry Painkiller and Jazilla — the Jazilla is a blend of black vanilla tea and green jasmine. We’re out of it right now. It’s that popular.”
Dr. Bombay’s is an ideal neighborhood spot to snag a cup of tea and spend hours reading one of the many books on its bookshelves. High tea includes a pot of tea for two served with cookies, scones, brownies, finger sandwiches, jam, Devonshire clotted cream and, of course, lots of love. Visit Dr. Bombay’s site or email [email protected] to make a reservation.
88 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305 • (404) 563-7799
Cost: $40 per person ($22 per person for children 12 years old and younger)
Hours: Friday through Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Astor Court
A ritual celebrated by socialite Caroline Astor, the mother of St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV, afternoon tea is an important part of this hotel’s distinguished brand. Offered only on the weekends, you’ll want to reserve a table for you and your closest friends to relish the Caroline Astor Afternoon Tea. Choose from teas like the St. Regis Peach blend (Keemun and Ceylon teas, black currant and peach aromas) or the Pear Tree Green (China green tea and pear notes). You’ll feel like nobility when your server delivers housemade pecan spice or blueberry scones to the table. And you’re going to go crazy for the smoked chicken and almond salad sandwich on wheat bread. Finish off tea service with a delicious red velvet whoopie pie or a chocolate citrus tart. If afternoon tea was good enough for Caroline Astor, we promise, it’ll definitely be good enough for you.
75 14th St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30309 • (404) 253-3840
Cost: $46 per person
Hours: Saturdays only (with a seven-day advance reservation), 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. inside Park 75
Pastry chef Charles Barrett puts together a delightful tea menu at this Midtown hotel. Created for parties of 10 or more, reserve the Celebration Tea for you and the girls. Choose from a variety of teas like Masala chai, Turmeric Ginger and English breakfast before getting the party started with a glass of Louis Roederer. Seriously addictive star-shaped Southern shortcakes steal the show here. Just break them open and slap on some Chantilly cream, lemon custard or peach chutney to add to the sweetness of the baked biscuits. Other highlights include tea sandwiches, like the creamy crab stuffed in profiterole or the coronation chicken salad. Not only will you and the gals welcome the attentive service, but you’ll have such a great time being spoiled by the Four Seasons staff that you won’t want to leave. Take a piece of your experience home with you in a to-go box, should any desserts like the chocolate-dipped strawberries or meringue cookies, be left over.
5356 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, GA 30341 • (678) 547-0877
Cost: $24 per person
Hours: High tea is available daily, but reservations are required
Offering its customers a lot more than just a casual high-tea experience (spinach quiche and scones, anyone?), Zen Tea provides weekly tea tastings as well. Owner Connie Miller’s store is filled with more than 180 selections, including Rooibos Organic Chocolate Mint, Chamomile, White Blueberry Bliss and Jade Dragon Oolong. For an up-close-and-personal experience with the beverage (think history lesson, unlimited tastings and the chance to craft your own blend), sign up for one of Connie’s tasting classes.
How to Host Your Own Tea Party at Home
If you love the idea of high tea, but would prefer to be the hostess with the mostest in your very own home, try afternoon tea your way. We spoke with Jason Sanders, director of food and beverage at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead, for his tips on throwing a proper tea party. Here’s what he suggested:
- Offer variety: Offer one traditional black tea, like English breakfast or Darjeeling; one herbal or decaf tea, like chamomile or mint; an exotic tea, like green tea or red tea; and popular fruit-infused teas, like peach or passion fruit.
- Provide light foods: Traditional afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches and petite desserts. Sandwiches should be relatively mild in flavor, like smoked salmon, egg salad or cucumber and cream cheese. You don’t want to serve anything spicy that could distract from the flavors of the tea. Pastries should be bite-size — small fruit tarts or chocolates pair well with tea. Scones should be served warm with clotted cream, lemon curd and assorted jams.
- Proper setup: Tea cups are always set on the right on a saucer. Tea cups are picked up with the saucer under the cup to sip. Silverware should include tongs for sugar cubes, teaspoons, and a salad fork and salad knife due to the size of the foods.
- Activities: Encourage people to dress up and wear their favorite hats. Or, create a theme, like “Downton Abbey” or a spring-themed tea with colorful flowers.
Whether you decide to dine out or throw a tea party in your home, remember to keep those pinkies up and have a lovely afternoon with the ladies!
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