Is there anything more delightfully indulgent than sitting down to afternoon tea? Scones, clotted cream, dainty little pastries, and savory cucumber tea sandwiches … It’s one of those experiences that makes you nostalgic for a centuries-old tradition. And with Mother’s Day and spring celebrations upon us, there’s no better time to gather your best friends and family and sit down to a lighthearted afternoon tea. These are 10 of the best afternoon tea services across the South!
300 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70130 • (800) 262-2662
If you’re a Britophile, you’ll love living out your version of The Crown in the classic setting of Le Salon at The Windsor Court hotel in New Orleans. Afternoon tea begins with a light cocktail or sparkling beverage; then, you’ll sip from a selection of 26 loose-leaf teas while listening to the delicate harmonies of a live harpist or pianist. Tea sandwiches, housemade scones, and delicious desserts are served on timeless Wedgewood China, completing the formal English vision.
149 Union Avenue, Memphis TN 38103 • (901) 529-4000
Within its elegant Chez Philippe space, The Peabody boasts the only traditional English afternoon tea in Memphis. You’ll enjoy warm scones from Peabody Pastry Shop and three courses of savory sandwiches and sweets. If you’re taking your cues from Lady Whistledown, you’ll appreciate how their website describes afternoon tea, “It became a place to see and be seen, and most assuredly, a place to share the latest gossip.”
231 6th Avenue N., Nashville, TN 37219 • (615) 244-3121
The Hermitage Hotel has curated the perfect brand partnership for their weekend afternoon tea. Together with Draper James, they host ‘Spillin’ Tea with Draper James,’ an event inspired by recipes from Reese Witherspoon’s cookbook, Whiskey in a Teacup. You’ll sit down to fine loose-leaf tea and, yes, a bit of whiskey in a teacup. Of course, the room is dressed in Draper James’s best, with their signature gingham and prints decorating the tables.
101 West Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23220 • (804) 649-4750
Every Friday and Saturday, The Jefferson Hotel afternoon tea is a beloved tradition that often books months in advance. You’ll sit on the mezzanine balcony of the historic hotel, overlooking its Rotunda lobby. Then, you’ll dine on finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream, strawberry preserves, pastries, and bread. It’s a timeless experience that matches all your formal high-tea dreams. (SB Tip: The hotel also hosts specialty tea services on the first and third Friday and Saturday of every month.)
Camellias at Hotel Bennett
404 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403 • (843) 203-0922
With pastries and goodies from Charleston’s favorite, La Patisserie, Camellias brings a fanciful tea experience to South Carolina. Serving tea by day and champagne by night, Camellias has been lauded by Food Network as the “most Instagrammable restaurant in Charleston.” With its floor-to-ceiling pink decor, you’ll understand why it has earned that title. You can choose from the standard tea or the Children’s Tea, featuring offerings designed especially for little ones. Alternatively, you can go all out and indulge in the Crown Tea with a bit of rosé bubbly as an accompaniment.
Café des Beaux-Arts at the Flagler Museum
One Whitehall Way, Palm Beach, FL 33480 • (561) 655-2833
At the Café des Beaux-Arts, guests are transported back to the Gilded Age with fine loose-leaf tea and delicate pastries, sandwiches, scones, and other delightful sweets. The restaurant serves its own blend of tea, Whitehall Special Blend Tea™, along with pink lemonade — the perfect vibrant drink for Palm Beach. No detail is overlooked in the 19th-century Beaux-Arts railway palace, so tea is presented in the museum’s Whitehall Collection™ china.
211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 • (919) 933-2001
Served every Friday and Saturday afternoon, tea at The Carolina Inn takes its cues from a tradition that dates back to 1840s England. At this Southern Inn, they serve a classic menu of sweet and savory items and the British favorite, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam. Located on the UNC Chapel Hill campus, it’s a wonderful treat during a parent’s weekend visit. And, when the weather is warm, enjoy your tea on the darling garden terrace.
611 Doug Baker Blvd., Unit 103, Birmingham, AL 35242 • (205) 637-7100
The Anvil Pub & Grill is a British pub in Birmingham with its own spin on high tea and classic English tradition. You can look forward to a glass of champagne, followed by a selection of tea and coffee. Plus, you’ll enjoy a mouthwatering menu of tea sandwiches, including smoked salmon with cucumbers and cream cheese on rye, ham and cheese with onions on a biscuit, chicken salad on white bread, and fried fish on brioche buns. And since no high tea would be complete without sweets, there are also sconces, muffins, fresh macaroons, tartlets, trifles, cookies, and truffles.
337 Bull Street, Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 525-5880
The ornate, maximalist ambiance of the Gryphon tea room is eye-catching. Its carved mahogany bookcases and original stained-glass panels are appropriate for its location at Savannah College of Art and Design. The tea service is only $20 a person and includes tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and jam, assorted pastries, and petit fours, but you can also order off of the lunch or brunch menu if you’re looking for something more substantial.
16 Rosemont Manor Lane, Berryville, VA 22611 • (540) 955-2834
At Historic Rosemont Manor, built in the early 1800s, tea is served in three courses in an elegant room. Each tea has been custom blended for Rosemont, including the Byrd Blend black tea, a blend of Darjeeling, cream Earl Grey, and rose petals, and the Rosemont Blend green tea, which combines Sencha, refreshing strawberry and papaya pieces, rose petals, and candy pearls. Each course incorporates seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the perfect tea is selected for the various sandwiches, sconces, and sweets.
4119 Cromwell Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421 • (423) 894-8028
Indeed the most unique tea experience on our list, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum offers a high tea experience with all the usual fixings — sweet and savory items, sconces, and, of course, tea. But it’s followed by something less typical. After you’ve sipped and dined, you’ll board the railroad for a 65-minute train ride that includes four bridges and a pre-Civil War tunnel. It’s an incredible treat for history lovers or train-loving children and adults alike.
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