Honestly, my favorite place to enjoy “afternoon tea” is Palm Court at The Langham on Portland Place in London. I also enjoy tea closer to home as well. It is a wonderful way to celebrate birthdays and holidays, sneak in some girlfriend time, or just escape for a few hours for a relaxing respite of sheer refinement. Here are my two favorites, and I am also noting four other tea houses that are on my list to explore.
Café Jardin Restaurant in Corona del Mar. It is located inside Sherman Library & Gardens. Chef Pascal Olhats’ French-inspired restaurant features coastal fare from seasonal ingredients. My favorite perch is out on the covered patio overlooking the gardens and fountain. Afternoon Tea is served the second Wednesday of each month (with seatings at 2:30, 2:45 & 3:00 p.m.) and the last Wednesday of each month (with one 2:30 p.m. seating). Guests enjoy a selection of whole leaf teas poured in dainty flowered tea cups. The fresh currant and chocolate scones are served with lemon curd, strawberry jam and sweet butter. This is followed by tea sandwiches, including two of my traditional favorites–smoked salmon and cucumber with whipped crème fraîche, and egg salad, among others. I do save room for the house-made desserts, which include: chocolate truffle, cappuccino Chantilly cup, crème puffs and strawberry and lemon tartlets. The cost is $34 per person, plus tax & gratuity (and includes the $5 admission to the Gardens). Reservations are necessary at 949.673.0033.
The Tea House On Los Rios in San Juan Capistrano is housed in a charming Victorian-style home with a wrap-around porch and nestled in a garden of flowers and fountain. Los Rios is a historic neighborhood not far from Mission San Juan Capistrano with quaint boutiques along a pedestrian-friendly roadway. This tea house is open every day except Mondays. During the week, service is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on the weekends, they open at 9:30 a.m. It is a family-run business by the Niccola’s, and they are very proud of the cuisine and desserts they offer, most of which they make in-house. The menu is robust with specialty salads, savory entrees, desserts and even light bites for those who prefer to just order off a menu and not participate in the formal tea service. There are five different tea service options ranging in price from $18.95 to $42.95, with a Treehouse Tea for children under 10 years of age for $15.95. The tea selection is endless and, yes, it is loose leaf. My favorite tea service is The Victorian Tea for $42.95. It begins with a glass of Champagne and includes a freshly baked currant scone with raspberry preserves and California cream, handmade soup and garden fresh salad, assorted finger sandwiches and fresh fruit with cream, followed by handmade desserts, from which guests choose one. Reservations are made through Open Table.
On my list to explore in the months to come include: Paris In A Cup (a tea room and boutique in Old Town Orange), McKenna’s Tea Cottage in Seal Beach, Tea & Teacups in Yorba Linda and a return to The Resort at Pelican Hill, which has introduced a more modern spin on tea service.