“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” -Henry James
Indeed, there is something so deeply relaxing and enjoyable about the ritual of afternoon tea. That one hour in the middle of the day where you take a break from whatever it is you were doing. That chance to get away from the race we call life. An excuse to share quality time with family and friends… or, heck! even a little bit of “me” time.
Ah! Don’t you just love the pampering and all the delightful eats on those dramatic 3-tiered servers. The beautiful china, the dainty bites of food, the soothing hot tea of your choice – made especially for you. How divine!
My mom and I LOVE afternoon tea! So every time she comes to visit me, I am eager to take her to some special tea experiences in and around Fairfield county Connecticut. Sadly, afternoon tea places around here are few and far between. Nevertheless, we have managed to explore a few options. We recently visited three places in the area. Each quite lovely and each fits the bill of what you would hope to get out of the experience. Yet, each is unique in its own way. Following is my take on the three spots (although, I have certainly picked out my favorite… read on and find out which one) 😉
Alexander Higle’s and Dr. Shu-Chuan Chen’s love of gourmet food and fine teas has inspired them to open a delightful little place in downtown Wilton last August called Culture Tea. The incredibly comprehensive list of teas offer many organic choices as well as tisanes (herbal tea). Culture Tea offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea menus. Mom and I went for afternoon tea, of course! We really appreciated Alexander’s thoughtfulness in setting up a small space heater for mom because she was feeling a little cold due to the weather. His soft-spoken and deeply attentive nature made us feel pampered and relaxed. The interior is elegant but not in a pretentious kind of way. There are plenty of cozy tables – but my favorite is the table for two by the window. What a perfect setting to enjoy afternoon tea!
We tried the cheese and berry scones – sadly, they were a tad bit dry. Of the assorted tea sandwiches, egg was our favorite. Every savory and sweet bite here was somewhat understated in flavor. Perhaps that is the intended style of the owners. But after all is said and done, I totally see myself returning to Culture Tea. Perhaps next time to explore breakfast or lunch.
Serving 210 flavors of tea, this little gem located in the heart of Seymour historic district offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea menus. A fairly large restaurant offering plenty of seating, we were surprised to see an almost packed house on a weekday afternoon. With lots of vibrant conversations emanating from groups large and small, served by friendly attentive staff – this clearly is a local-favorite. So, I would recommend advanced reservations to ensure prompt seating.
With decor that is quite quaint and crockery to match, Tea With Tracey compliments the essence of its unique location. But surprisingly, the food lacked that certain level of finesse and daintiness one has come to expect from an English-style afternoon tea experience. Sandwiches, while quite flavorful, were less dainty and more like something you would craft in your own home kitchen. The scones were rather large. They looked more like what you would find at a Starbucks rather than a teahouse. The desserts of banana bread and pecan pie, were served as big slices as well. Quite honestly, the food (and its presentation) did not stand out enough to warrant another visit from me.
I LOVE the unique mix of traditional and contemporary in the afternoon tea experience at The Drawing Room – situated in the quaint neighborhood of Cos Cob. This is an interior design business, an art gallery and an adorable cafe – all rolled into one. Owners Michael and Kenleigh Larock, offer a menu that is quite traditional but with fun and modern twists. The decor is simple, the space light and bright! It is interesting to note that the tableware is just plain white. (Wait… that rhymes!!!)
The food is the centerpiece of this experience. Every sandwich I have tried here is quite delicious and so are the scones. I LOVE that they create all these fun flavor profiles in their scones and then pair them with jams and jellies that are equally exciting. Think ginger scones paired with clotted cream and rose petal jam! Yum!
There are just a handful of tables at The Drawing Room and reservations are not accepted – so I suggest you either plan a visit during off-peak hours or be prepared to wait. Although, waiting is not such a daunting idea because it will give you a chance to explore the little art gallery and gift shop towards the back of the building. The few times that I have been here, I have always noticed Michael behind the counter along with some really friendly faces – all eager to cater to your every sweet and savory craving.
So… dear friends, can you guess which of the three is my favorite? 🙂