Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends

Exceptional Tea Rooms In America

by Diana Rosen

Suddenly, everyone's "discovering" tea, a pleasure about which I have been writing since 1989, when I began my publication, Tea Talk. Then, we knew about three hundred tea rooms nationwide, and now there are more than seven hundred, and more are opening up everyday.

Listed below are some tried-and-true tea rooms plus a few new hot spots for tea; all have these things in common: a reverence for tea as a beverage and tea ceremonies as a welcome respite in our all-too-hectic lives. In each issue of Tea Talk, we list places that serve tea. Please share your favorite locations with me at TeaTalk@aol.com or P.O. Box 860, Sausalito, California 94966.

Most places listed here offer European or British-style tea service which includes cream tea (crumpets or scones, pastries, dessert, and tea), afternoon tea (scones, sandwiches, tea breads, desserts, candies or petit fours, and tea), and, rarely but increasingly, a high tea menu which usually includes heartier sandwiches, sometimes scones or crumpets but always savories (i.e. sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, potted shrimp, and selected cheeses), and a bracing cup of tea.

Times and prices change so rapidly, we recommend that you call ahead for reservations, particularly during any holiday or tourist seasons.

See the following website for tearooms listings: www.catteacorner.com/tearooms.htm

California

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Hotel
9641 Sunset Boulevard
(310) 551-2888

After several years of remodeling, this venerable hotel to the stars is bringing back its classy, traditional afternoon tea. Stop by and see what wonders they have done to this classic beauty. (PS the food's great, too!)

The Peninsula Beverly Hills
9882 Little Santa Monica Boulevard
(310) 273-4888
Three levels of tea served daily from 3 to 6 p.m. in The Living Room, a sun-splashed yellow and beige area of silk sofas and gracious table seating areas. We love the feel, look, and comfort of this lobby; it is pure California. The choices of teas continues to grow, and most are prepared quite well. The royal tea comes with strawberries and a glass of champagne, both purely American touches, but you have to rest up from Rodeo Drive shopping somehow.

Burlingame

Lady Pierrepont's Heirlooms & Edibles
1205 Howard Avenue
This converted Victorian home is the place to visit when in the San Francisco south bay. It is in the charming carriage-trade town of Burlingame, a mecca for antiques and gift shoppers. The tea room offers books, gifts, teas, and wonderful accessories that you can view after sampling one of their three tea menus. Tuesday through Saturday. Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend is the house tea; other choices available.

Dana Point

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Hotel
One Ritz-Carlton Drive
(714) 240-2000
Easily the favorite choice of visitors to this seaside town. Tea is served in The Library overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Three levels of tea menus served daily. Reservations essential!

Los Angeles

Biltmore Hotel
506 S. Grand Avenue
Surrounding the Rendezvous Court where two full afternoon menus are served daily . A great people-watching place and an ideal spot for a light meal before the theater or just to avoid the 5 o'clock traffic rush.

Chado
8422 1/2 W. Third Street
(213) 655-2056
This is the tea shop that revolutionized tea drinking in Los Angeles. Tiny, serene, elegant, with fine food and an excellent choice of teas from around the world. Try their exceptional new green teas from Nilgiri, Darjeeling, and their famous "Jade Oolong," one of our personal favorites. Good selection of gift items, especially their glasses for hot and iced teas; charming! Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m..

Pacific Dining Car
1310 W. Sixth Street
(213) 483-6000
2700 Wilshire Boulevard
(310) 453-4000
This classic American-style restaurant is famous for its steaks and gargantuan breakfasts. Tea is always serenely presented and there is a great comfort in its predictability. You'll love the red leather booths and professional staff. The meal comes with a glass of sherry and a traditional menu. We keep going back because it's quiet, comfy and, okay, a bargain at $10.

Monrovia
504 S. Myrtle Avenue
(818) 303-3201
Afternoon tea in charming vintage clothing store where you can cop a hat from the wall and "dress up" no matter how old you are. Carefully created menu items to please the palate of any age.

Ojai

Tottenham Court
242 E. Ojai Avenue
(805) 646-2339
Charming, original murals on the walls depict English scenes that add whimsy and a touch of authentic English locale to this charming tea room. Faux walls and windows separate you from the fabulous gift shop with its incredible table accessories, food, and gift items.. Fortnum & Mason teas are served with the traditional tea menus from lunch time through tea time.

Pasadena

The Rose Tree Cottage
824 E. California Boulevard
(818) 793-3337
This is the venerable English complex of storybook, thatched cottages that helped start the tea revolution in southern California. The Frys offer everything imaginable for gifts and home accessories from England, plus one of the best English-styled teas anywhere. Tea is served on crisp linens with freshly made, English-style teas and genuine clotted cream for the scones. An ideal place for children to practice their newly-learned manners and for adults of all ages to drift back in time.

Tea Rose Garden
28 S. Raymond Avenue
(818) 578-1144
This lovely tearoom offers tea in the garden. A beautiful courtyard with fountain is part of this fragrant, full-service flower shop and tea room specializing in edible flowers. Unique loose leaf teas and fine blends. Open daily.

San Diego

US Grant Hotel
326 Broadway
(619) 232-3121
Relax in the richly appointed lobby with its highly polished mahogany furniture and fine accessories. Pianist. Tea served Tuesday through Saturday. Located across from Horton Plaza shopping center -- what better location is there for pre- or apres-tea shopping?

Westgate Hotel
1055 Second Avenue
(619) 238-1818
After being away from the tea scene for quite a while, the Westgate has come back with a tea service that is pure style. Traditional full set tea is served in their beautiful lobby, with your choice of 12 teas, Monday through Saturday.

San Francisco

Imperial Tea Court
1411 Powell Street
(415) 788-6080
The first traditional Chinese tea house in the US. This classic shop has rosewood paneled walls, silk cushions, rosewood furniture, and beautiful traditional lanterns. The lanterns are intricately cut from one piece of wood, in the old style. Sells more than 200 varieties of pure China teas (bulk or packages) and tea or herb bath sachets. Tea tastings are priced per person. Here's the place to educate your senses and train palate with fine China teas.

Neiman-Marcus
150 Stockton
(415) 362-3900
The Glass Ship dome ceiling on the top floor is the perfect screen for a sun-splashed afternoon tea. This classic department store serves tea in The Rotunda Restaurant Monday through Saturday. Incredible desserts! Nearby food and gift shop offers many tea-time delights.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
600 Stockton Street
(415) 296-7465
Soft silk sofas, cozy eating areas, harpist or other musicians, and exquisite furnishings, paintings and soft lighting all make for an exceptionally fine ambiance. Nibble away at this classic Ritz afternoon tea. Offered in the step-up lobby lounge daily.

San Marino

Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
(818) 683-8131
Set in the Rose Garden Room with views of the bucolic gardens which change with the seasons. English style tea is served buffet style daily, except Mondays. Adjacent to the Huntington Library which houses genuine Shakespeare folios, Gainsborough paintings, and many other fine art and accessory items.

Temecula

Frills Tea Room and Vintage Boutique
28535 Front Street
(909) 699-6996
Afternoon tea in charming Victorian home where you can cop a hat from the wall and "dress up" no matter how old you are. Carefully created menu items to please the palate of any age.

Valencia

A Touch of Class
25914 McBean Parkway
Granary Square
(805) 259-1625
Sip A.C. Perch teas of Copenhagen at the only place in the country that serves it! This vibrant, rich selection of teas is bracing and comforting at the same time. Select from four menus Wednesdays through Sundays; Cream Tea only on Tuesdays. Wonderful shopping and delicious food.

Connecticut

Salisbury

The Chaiwalla Tea Room
One Main Street
(203) 435-9758
Mary O'Brien offers what must be the very best Darjeelings anywhere. A true aficionada, Mary's shop offers chai, an Indian tea "drink" with cardamom, and her tea treats reflect an interest in Himalayan cultures. A must-see. Ask about her Ashley Falls Tea Learning Centre!

Delaware

Wilmington

Hotel Dupont
11th and Market streets
(302) 594-3100
In this tiny state, where tradition and history are so important, you can always rely on the Hotel Dupont to come through for you. A refreshing afternoon tea is served daily in the lobby lounge. A classic in every way.

Illinois

Chicago

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel)
160 E. Pearson Street
(312) 266-1000
Luxurious tea dining in the sky-lit, carpeted Greenhouse on the lobby level with soothing sounds of a fountain nearby. Choice of 11 teas to pair with one of three menus. Served daily.

Seasons of Long Grove
314 Old McHenry Road
(708) 634-9150
A creative spin makes the tea foods here very special; open daily except Sunday. Major shopping in this 19th century vintage town.

Louisiana

New Orleans

Windsor Court Hotel
300 Gravier Street
(504) 523-6000
Soothing music from a chamber ensemble or harpist sets the scene for the elegant Salon. Two full tea menus are served daily and you select from 25 loose leaf teas and a European menu. One of the prestigious Orient Express hotels.

Massachusetts

Boston

The Ritz Carlton
(617) 536-5700

The Four Seasons Hotel
(617) 338.4400

New York

New York City

J.P. Morgan Library
29 E. 36th Street at Madison Avenue
(212) 685-0610
Housed in the financier's 1906 home. Ask about the secret door in the wall of J.P's office; it's a delight. The gallery always has something exquisite to view. Then, top off the venture with tea in the Atrium Garden Court. All items a la carte. Museum admission is $5. Open daily except Monday.

Salon T Cafe & Tea Emporium
142 Mercer Street
(212) 925-3700
Unique tea showcase set below the Guggenheim Museum, SoHo. The vast emporium includes a tea bar, retail tea and gift shops, antique furnishings, and a menu as innovative as the setting. Indulge in the exquisitely perfumed T salon teas -- unusual and exotic. Full set tea menu, of course. Try to go for dinner when everything on the menu (from chicken to sushi) is seasoned, flavored, or cooked in some way with tea.

Tea Box Cafe in the Takashimaya Department Store
693 Fifth Avenue
(212) 350-0100
Exquisite store features charming Japanese items for a few dollars to antique tea kettles for thousands. Exceptional menu of fine teas from around the world with food items available a la carte or European set tea. Created in the style of a benko box, all tea services are set in serene surroundings that transport you miles away from the madness of Fifth Avenue traffic. Monday through Saturday.

Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Company
75 Mott Street
(212) 349-2286
Here's the ideal place to sample the world's finest Oolongs plus some exceptional greens. Tea is priced per sampling and everything is available for take-out. An incredible selection.

Toraya
17 E. 71st. Street
(212) 861-1700
A gift-box of a shop showcasing Japanese sweets (wagashi and goshikito) and teas by the cup. Setting is restful and quiet in a minimalist interior. A marvelous find for those who love native Japanese green teas.

Trois Jean
154 E. 79th Street
(212) 988-4858
Mariage Freres teas and attention to detail are all part of the exquisite pleasure of this wonderful restaurant. They truly understand what perfect tea is all about. Try some of their selections with their dramatically exquisite pastries. Perfectly wonderful.

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia

Four Seasons Hotel
One Logan Square
(215) 963-1500
You might want to drift from tea to the dining room where the world's finest chefs create sumptuous meals fit for the gourmand. Tea is spectacular, especially the selections represented by Philadelphia's premier tea shop: The House of Tea. The food service here is exquisite. Served Monday through Saturday in the lobby lounge.

The Bellevue Hotel
1415 Chancellor Court
(215) 893-1776
If you're looking for a theatrical setting, dramatic tea service, and a darn good time, take tea in the elegant Barrymore Room. The sophisticated, historic building is just one good reason for having tea here; others include: great service, fine tea, and delicious food. Daily.

South Carolina

Charleston

The Charleston Place Hotel
130 Market Street
(803) 722-4900
An experienced tea leaf reader is just part of the fun of tea staged in the lobby lounge of this delightful Southern institution open for afternoon tea Monday through Saturday with two set menus. Perfect place for parties.

Tennessee

Memphis

The Peabody
149 Union Avenue
(901) 529-4000
This is a popular hotel, where the mallard ducks have the run of the outdoor fountain -- and sometimes the run of the hotel. The tea, however, is classic: served with inimitable grace and always worth the wait. A must-do in Memphis. Served Monday through Friday and by reservation.

Texas

Smithville/Bastrop (near Austin)


Wildflower Tea Room
114 Way Station Trail
( 512) 237-3500

The English Countryside meets the Heart of Texas at the Wildflower. This Tea room is tucked away inside the low-key yet historical Alum Creek Center. They offer a 'light' or cream tea, Tea and 'a bit more'(a scone, two sandwiches and dessert)and a full afternoon Tea consisting of two scones, four sandwiches and dessert. All items are made from scratch including the mock devonshire cream and lemon curd. The Tea room offers tea related items for sale(loose and bagged teas and tea pots/cups) as well as handmade jewelry, cards and tea cup candles.  The Wildflower offers a whimsical and eclectic setting which includes a real wood-burning antique stove, a clawfoot bathtub fountain, a sitting area with a loveseat and wingback chair, as well as, beautifully decorated tables throughout which adds to its dressy yet relaxing and casual atmosphere.  'Tea Party' hats are available to wear while enjoying tea or for purchase.

Sugar Land (near Houston)

Serenitea
Tea Room and Gift Shop
13889 Southwest Freeway
Sugar Land, TX 77478
(In the Gerland's Shopping Center)
( 281) 491-4588
E-mail:  aserenitea@aol.com
Hours:  Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Private Parties by Appointment
Serving lunch and afternoon tea.  Serenitea is an ideal place for bridal showers, baby showers, children's tea parties or any special occasion.  Serenitea offers tea education classes - history, etiquette, tea ceremonies and tea tastings.  Please visit the gift shop for many tea-related and unique gift items.

 

Washington, DC

Four Seasons Hotel
2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
(202) 342-0444
AAA's five-diamond award-winning hotel at the entrance to Georgetown. Tea served daily in the Garden Terrace restaurant.

The Willard Intercontinental
1401 Pennsylvania Avenue N. W.
(202) 628-9100
Just a block from the White House stands the beautifully restored Beaux Arts "new" Willard which has hosted visitors and natives to DC since 1816. You'll love their tea, held in The Nest, a former sitting room overlooking the main lobby. Available daily.


Diana Rosen is a freelance writer  for eZines, web site copy, and print magazine articles on food, beverage, and other lifestyle topics. The veteran journalist is also the author of 10 nonfiction books and the co-author of three others. For more information, visit write to her at dianalrosen@aol.com.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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