It’s Tea Time! Cozy Places Where You Can Enjoy Great Tea Services
By Colleen Luckett
Traditionally, tea time is a British ritual, but several hotels and cafes across America pay tribute to this afternoon pastime, much to tea lovers’ delight. You’ve probably heard the expressions “high tea” and “afternoon tea” and imagined them interchangeable – however, there’s a difference! Read on for a little tea time history, and then we’ll share some of our favorite places to imbibe.
Legend has it that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, started the trend of afternoon tea in the early 19th century. In those days, dinner was served between 8 and 9 pm, leaving the Duchess hungry and fatigued by late afternoon. To tide herself over, she would order tea, cakes, and bread and butter to be served in her room. Later, she started inviting her friends, so afternoon tea in a cozy setting became a thing.
If you hadn’t already guessed, afternoon tea was reserved for the wealthy. The working class was, well, still working in the afternoon. Typically, the workers would arrive home a bit famished, craving a nice, steaming pot of tea--usually kept hot with a teapot cozy--to freshen them up. So high tea became the evening meal, which Brits now refer to as “supper.” Afternoon and high teas are a long-standing tradition, and here are some places you can bring out the Englander in you!
Favorite Places in North America for Tea Time
The Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada. Victoria is a delightful island near Vancouver, Canada, and an excellent place to visit is Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s premier floral display gardens and designated historical landmark. Butchart features garden styles from all over the world, and it is BE-U-TEE-FUL. Try their afternoon tea during the warmer months and high tea during the cooler months in the Dining Room restaurant, located in the Butcharts’ former residence. From the website: At any time of the year the traditional delicacies, savory tea sandwiches and house-made sweets are marvelous as an afternoon indulgence, or as lunch.
The Swan House, Findlay, Ohio. Originally built in 1864 as a home for William and Caroline McConnell, The Swan House Tea Room is still standing as a beautiful restored Bracketed Italianate house, extremely popular during the Civil War era. You can grab lunch there Tuesday through Thursday, but if you want to enjoy their “proper” tea service, you’ll have to make a reservation for Fridays or Saturdays only.
The unique thing about this tea house is its interesting variety of teas. From our own Koffee Kompanions president Irene Luckett: “I went to the tea house on my own. I could drink as many pots of tea as I wanted, and each pot could be a different tea. I had hot Chocolate Strawberry (black tea, coconut, raspberry, cocoa, strawberry, yogurt, and vanilla bits) and iced Peach Apricot (Ceylon base with dried peaches and apricots). Best peach tea I've ever drunk!” Other flavors include such marvels as
- Royal Wedding (mango, kiwi, strawberry, and raspberry bits)
- Almond Cookie Green Tea (tastes like an almond cookie)
- Casabla nca (a colorful mix of berries with sunflower and cornflower petals).
The House of Commons, Denver, Colorado. In my own backyard lives a lovely cafe inspired by London's tearooms. Just a short stroll from the Platte river in lower downtown Denver, The House of Commons takes its name from the nearby Commons Park, opened in February 2005. Their website boasts “an oasis of calm in a busy world,” and they serve a range of fine teas and treats. This “taste of London” truly is a neighborhood gem. You can enjoy a full lunch or their award-winning afternoon tea service, depending on which way your stomach directs you!
The Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado. Another beauty in my backyard, only this one has a more formal flavor and 125 years of luxurious history boasting many famous guests. The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa became the premier place to stay as Americans flocked west in the late 1800s to seek their fortunes in gold and silver. Today, it’s touted as one of the most elegant and beloved hotels of Denver. Indulge in their traditional afternoon tea in the Denver tea room, and feast on the likes of scones, finger sandwiches, truffles, Devonshire cream shipped directly from England, and herbal, green, and organic teas. Before or after tea, be sure to dive into the history of the hotel during a specially guided tour. You’ll never forget this lovely and sophisticated hotel!
Of course, wherever you end up for afternoon or high tea, be sure to take along your beautifully crafted Tea Tabard tea cozy, specially designed with rounded bottom edges to hug the table and keep your pot of tea hot and tasty.
Do you have any favorite places to enjoy high or afternoon tea? Please let us know in the comments below!