Taking Tea

Phyllis Blog Spotlight 23 Comments

Drinking a cup of hot tea has always been relaxing for me. I especially love taking afternoon tea. TeaTime magazine’s new book, Taking Tea, is a celebration of this art. I have experienced afternoon tea at several of the establishments featured in the book, such as the Willard, Windsor Court Hotel, the Peabody Memphis, and the Grand America Hotel. Lorna Reeves, the editor of TeaTime, is also a lover of afternoon tea. She sat down with me recently to share about the book.

Phyllis: What was the inspiration behind Taking Tea?

Lorna: We received many inquiries from TeaTime readers about which tearooms to visit on their travels. Those letters led us to compile this book which features 9 independent tea rooms and 9 luxury hotels from across the contiguous United States. For each establishment featured, there is an article as well as several recipes from their tea menu. The book is perfect for planning afternoon tea in your own home. Each recipe has been scaled down to the appropriate serving sizes for an afternoon tea and has been tested multiple times in our test kitchens. The measurements have been converted from weight to volume whenever possible. There are also several gluten-free recipes, as well as a tea steeping guide.


Phyllis: What are the benefits of going somewhere for afternoon tea rather than simply drinking tea at home?

Lorna: One of the most enjoyable benefits is that you do not have to do any of the work! It is a way to relax and savor the tea, the food, and the people you are with. Most afternoon tea experiences are designed to last around an hour and a half. The food will either be served on a three-tiered stand or in courses, which causes you to slow down and take the time to enjoy it. You are going to receive delicious food, wonderful tea, and incredible service. Going to a tea room allows you to see the unique personality of each establishment. Even within the same state, no two tea rooms are alike.

Phyllis: How did afternoon tea originate?

Lorna: The practice of afternoon tea began with the Duchess of Bedford. She would get sinking spells in the time between lunch and dinner. In order to prevent this, she began having tea and sandwiches in her boudoir every afternoon. She would invite friends to join her and this became a time for them to chat, gossip, and enjoy each other’s company. Once people realized that this was a practice of the royalty, it began to catch on and has been around ever since.

Phyllis: What are some of the benefits of taking afternoon tea?

Lorna: Tea is second to water for the most-consumed beverage worldwide and third in the United States to water and coffee. It has significance worldwide. Afternoon tea is a delightful way to stop for a few minutes and relax. Drinking hot tea is a calming experience. Taking tea with friends is a perfect way to spend time together and build relationships. TeaTime readers attest that afternoon tea is a valuable practice to implement in your life.


What are some of your favorite tea houses?

Comments 23

  1. This beautifully photographed and delightfully written book is so full of great recipes and fabulous spots to have tea. I am honored to have Paris In A Cup Tea Salon & Café included in it’s pages. I hope everyone enjoys the book as much as I am.
    Cheryl Turner, owner
    Paris In A Cup

  2. There really is something just so special about taking tea… We call it – “slowing down to catch up”. Whether it is catching up with a special loved one or your own soul – taking tea just helps us slow down. And afternoon tea is the perfect time.

    Very excited to add this book to our collection and we can’t wait to see it!

  3. I absolutely love the St. James tea room in Albuquerque. I have been going there for years and years. I have been to several tea rooms and they all are wonderful but the St James is by far my favorite. Such a special time spent with special people in my life.
    I am so looking forward to this new book!

  4. Taking tea brings back memories of my childhood. My girlfriend’s mother had a friend who lived close by, close enough that we could walk to her house. This friend happened to be an English lady who was quite fond of tea. Once a week during our summer vacation from school and on holidays, she would invite we two little girls to have afternoon tea with her on her very pretty patio or in her dining room depending upon the weather. What a thrill to dress up in our pretty dresses and patton leather shoes, and holding hands, skip down the street to her house.
    We’d be treated to a tea of our choosing, and a delightful tier of treats such as tea sandwiches, scones, and tiny desserts.
    Needless to say, we spent a delightful afternoon learning about tea and foods to serve with afternoon tea. Until this day, I still enjoy afternoon tea and sharing my memories of afternoon tea with my best friend and a lovely English lady.

  5. I too love taking tea any time, anywhere. First, mid morning, which some people refer to as elevenses. And then, again mid afternoon. My favourite tea room is at Toronto’s Royal York hotel. One year, we even got to go to the roof top to look at the hotel’s rooftop garden where they grow their own herbs and vegetables. There are also beehives.The hotel uses the honey in their baked goods served at the tea.

  6. My dear Aunt Grace taught me to love tea time as a special treat. Fifty-five years later her stories about life and tea in London when she returned from her year of teaching at at the Frances Holland School for Girls on a Fulbright Exchange remain vivid. Tea at Fortnum and Mason when I was fortunate enough to have a day in London stands out in my memory. Here at home in Washington State, inviting friends to an afternoon tea is my favorite way to entertain.

  7. Some of the exciting places where I have experienced afternoon tea are the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, when we stayed there, the US grant Hotel, in downtown San Diego, and the Hotel Del Coronado, on Coronado Island, where I enjoyed a lovely Victorian Christmas tea.
    It is such a beautiful tradition, and so nice to sit down and take the time for it!
    My teatime at home is usually a much simpler affair, but I still enjoy it!

  8. Favorite tea house is The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco! Unforgettable!
    When I was the Administrator of a Retirement high rise in the bay area I treated my administrative secretary to a special treat on National Secretary Day. We wore our furs and the limo picked us up for a most wonderful experience. We enjoyed high tea in the lounge with pots of tea, sandwiches crafted with seasonal local ingredients like cucumbers with goat cheese, eggs on toast with maetake mushrooms and eclair with lobster mouse and caviar. Our sweet indulgence included brown butter madeline, layered raspberry Victoria sponge cake & currant scones with lemon curd and Devonshire cream and of course champagne and entertainment with unforgettable harp music I still remember Claire d’lune ! She was a
    loyal employee and worth her hundred dollar bonus! Carmel

  9. I have to agree with Brandon…there is nothing like tea in England. I recently went with a Sumner, WA tea room owner on a 10-day guided tour of English tea rooms (and china factories and shops). It was beyond wonderful! There were ten of us, plus the owner and her husband. We had afternoon tea every day, beginning at Highclere Castle; also The Pump Room and Bea’s Vintage Tea Room in Bath; the Marsh Mallow in Moreton-in-Marsh; the Wedgewood and Burleigh factory tea rooms in Stoke-on-Trent; and Fortnum and Mason’s, Bea’s St. Paul’s, a Mad Hatter Tea at the Sanderson Hotel, and the Lanesborough Hotel in London. The best thing about even small villages in England is that there is usually a tea room somewhere. O, to be in England! But I also love to do tea at home for myself and/or friends, and recently hosted a potluck tea for my church Ladies’ Ministry. Can’t wait to read this new book!!!

  10. Sadly, I live in an area where there are no tearooms nor much interest in tea overall.

    My most memorable teas were when I used to visit London on a regular basis – who does tea better than the English? Tea at the Dorchester Hotel, Tea at the Ritz, and Tea at Harrod’s top the list.

    Should I return to London again, I would put the Savoy and Fortnum & Mason’s on the short list of places to experience!

    While I love the opulence and luxury of tea , in retrospect, I realize that the best tea experiences are those in my own home with visiting family or friends. Deciding the menu, choosing which china pattern to use that day and what two teas to serve…… these are all the wonderful aspects that I enjoy most!

    Brandon Hartford
    Te Deum Cottage

  11. http://www.thepfisterhotel.com/milwaukee-restaurants/tea-service-milwaukee
    Enjoy a respite from the bustle of daily chores and briefly return to a gentler era. We have created an experience that will surely become a treasured memory for you and yours. Guests enjoy a tableside tea blending, presented in all–silver service by a Pfister Tea Butler, while learning about each variety of tea, the origins, unique flavors, effects on mood and health, blending options and perfect pairings. The afternoon is complete with fresh scones, sandwiches and pastries.

    The Afternoon Tea experience at The Pfister hotel is unlike that of any other hotel. On the 23rd floor lounge of the Pfister, you will be surrounded by panoramic views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan. Treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon of grand elegance in our Milwaukee tea room. We are proud to offer Rishi Tea, harvested in the world’s most renowned regions and headquartered right here in Milwaukee. Enhance your Milwaukee high tea experience with our selections of Essense and Bubbly.

  12. As much as I enjoy going to tea rooms to take tea, at times it’s not a financial possibility for me, so I take tea at home! Sometimes, I just don’t eat lunch so I can “fuss” over my teatime. I always have very thin bread in, so it makes it easy to make chicken salad, ham salad and/or cucumber sandwiches!
    When I make scones from one of the receipts in Tea Time magazine I double it, freezing the rest, so scones are readily available.
    Where I live “Tastycake” treats are available or ” Hostess” or “Drakes” and I can cut up Butterscotch Krimpets or Ho-ho’s for little sweets.
    I plan my teapot to complement my cups & saucers and in so doing, get to use my own lovely things!
    I usually do this at least once a month to “treat” myself!

  13. I just love anything about tea! I love going to the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, LA. Have taken both grandchildren! I have a B&B in Natchez, MS magnoliacottagebandb.com and have began having teas at Christmas and Mother’s Day. I love it and my guest seem to love it too. I learn something from every posting and picture I see. Thank you for your continued motivation.

  14. Living here in So. Illinois is a vast wasteland for tea drinkers. I haven’t found a place within 50 miles to visit. Closest we came was a Café that had some tea bags. Would love to visit a tearoom . L – longing for a place to take tea.

  15. Recently was in Redwing Mn visiting with my sister-in-law. One day we went out shopping and for lunch she carried me to a most precious tea room in the old Redwing Pottery building. Everything served was made on sight. It was delicious and I would certainly eat there again when in Redwing.

  16. Having tea at the Ritz Carlton at Buckhead in Atlanta is a very special memory for me and my daughter but I can honestly say…nothing compares to sitting in a chair too small for my porportions and sipping make belief tea with my granddaughter. It just doesn’t get any better. I do agree that pause in the afternoon is a gift.

  17. Oh! I am so looking forward to this book, I believe my good friend, Cheryl Turner, has her lovely tea salon, Paris in a Cup, mentioned. Going to tea is one of life’s guilty pleasures, the height of luxurious living!

  18. We have a few lovely little tea rooms in northern Ohio and it is such a nice treat to have tea with friends and family. I was given a generous birthday gift of tickets to a Downton Abbey tea at the Ritz in Cleveland, OH. It was part of our local PBS station’s celebration of the Downton series. Very elegant venue and lovely showing of period costumes by many attendees. My own personal summer tea room is my screened porch complete with a reading light, a good book, and evening chorus of crickets and other nocturnal entertainers.

  19. One of your previous posts about afternoon tea was illustrated with photos of 3 little tea sandwiches, 3 little desserts, and 1 scone with jam and clotted cream. I always try to eat *everything* on the serving stand, and then wish I hadn’t! The next time I sit down to an afternoon I will confine myself to the selections above.

    Looking forward to it already!

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