Afternoon tea not only offers you a chance to get a little nibble and caffeine boost during those long hours between lunch and dinner, but it also offers you the opportunity to inject a little relaxation and quietude into your day. Below are our five favorite establishments for afternoon tea in New York. By Jessica Allen.
The five-course afternoon tea service at Lady Mendl’s takes place in a cozy Victorian-era room, located in a building that dates to 1834. Tea begins with an amuse bouche, followed by several tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire clotted cream and preserves, Lady Mendl’s signature cake (layered crepes), and assorted cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries. You choose the tea from a long list. Seatings occur at 3 pm and 5 pm, Monday through Friday, with a handful of other times throughout the week. Definitely make a reservation.
Every afternoon The Pierre, a hotel across from Central Park, offers a tea service at 3 pm and 5 pm. You have two options from which to choose: the Traditional Tea Service comes with finger sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and meyer lemon curd, and pastries like tarts or cakes. The Sweet Tea Service has scones and pastries. Both offer green, black, and herbal loose teas from around the world. The hotel vibe tips toward old-world elegance. Expect lots of “ma’ams,” “sirs,” and doffing of hats.
At The Ritz-Carlton’s Star Lounge, high tea comes with such sandwiches as half-poached shrimp with capers cream cheese on pumpernickel and smoked chicken with dried apricot on whole wheat, scones with the requisite fruit preserves and Devonshire cream, and petit fours. The teas are specially blended for the hotel from the “T” Tea Company. You can also get an additional glass of champagne. Seatings occur at 2.30 pm and 3 pm daily. Reservations are required; dressing to impress is optional, but probably not a bad idea.
At Bosie Tea Parlor, the resident tea master—the youngest female tea sommelier in the United States—carefully selects, sources, and blends more than 100 teas under the L’Age de Thé house brand. Pastries are taken care of by a third-generation French pâtissier. The three tea services at this West Village restaurant include a standard service with sandwiches and cakes, a champagne service, and the chef’s service, which has champagne, mini scones, canapé, pastries, macarons, and mini tea cakes. Reservations for the chef’s service are a must.
From the charmingly mismatched tea pots to the bustling dining room, Tea & Sympathy offers a more populist take on the afternoon tea ritual. This restaurant is located in Greenwich Village, along a strip that boasts other British business, including A Salt & Battery (great for fish and chips). The afternoon tea service comes with assorted finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam, cakes, and, of course, a big pot of hot tea. No reservations accepted, but bonus points if you can name most members of the British royal family.