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The Great Tea Rooms of America


Richard Kilgore
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The new edition of The Great Tea Rooms of America by Bruce Richardson came out this summer. In this edition, he also included for the first time a section on The Great Tea Shops of America. (For a discussion of the Great Tea Shops of America go here.)

All lists are fodder for discussion, so what do you think of Bruce Richardson's list of Great Tea Rooms of America? Which ones have you been to and what did you like or dislike about them. Any you think should have been included that he left off? Any on it that you think should have been left off?

The Great Tea Rooms of America

Alice's Tea Cup - New York, New York

www.alicesteacup.com

Butchart Gardens - Victoria, British Columbia

www.buchartgardens.com

Cliffside Inn -Newport, Rhode Island

www.cliffsideinn.com

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort - Lake Buena Vista, Florida

www.disneyworld.com

The Drake Hotel - Chicago, Illinois

www.thedrakehotel.com

Dunbar Tea Room - Sandwich, Massacheusetts

www.dunbarteashop.com

Dushhandbe Teahouse - Boulder, Colorado

www.boulderteahouse.com

The Fairmont Chateu Lake Louise - Lake Louise, Alberta

The Fairmont.com/lakelouise

The Fairmont Empress Hotel - Victoria, British Columbia

www.fairmont.com/empress

Grand American Hotel - Salt Lake City, Utah

www.gradamerica.com

Lady Mendell's

The Inn at Irving Place - New York, New York

www.innatIrving.com

Miss Mabele's - Dickson, Tennessee

www.missmable.com

Queen Mary Tea Room - Seattle, Washington

www.queenmarytea.com

Rose Tree Cottage - Pasedena, California

www.roseteacottage.com

Samovar Tea Lounge - San Francisco, California

www.samovartealounge.com

St.James Tearoom - Albuquerque, New Mexico

www.stjamestearoom.com

The St. Regis Hotel - New York, New York

www.stregis.com

Tea Leaves & Thyme - Woodstock, Georgia

www.tealeavesandthyme.com

The Tea Room - Savannah, Georgia

www.savannahtearoom.com

Windsor Court Hotel - New Orleans, Lousiana

www.windsorcourthotel.com

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The Empress in Victoria is my favourite for a high tea or just a pot in the Bengal Room.

I'll add two more greats to the list:

Chateau Laurier - Ottawa, Ontario

The King Edward Hotel - Toronto, Ontario

and one more, if you're in Kingston, Ontario during July and August you can phone Bellevue House National Historic Site of Canada for a reservation to afternoon tea. It's the restored home of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

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Moe Sizlack

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Of that list I've been to:

Alice's Tea Cup - New York, New York

Butchart Gardens - Victoria, British Columbia

The Fairmont Chateu Lake Louise - Lake Louise, Alberta

The Fairmont Empress Hotel - Victoria, British Columbia

The St. Regis Hotel - New York, New York

I'm not sure what the criteria are for declaring a tea room's greatness. Certainly from a tea connoisseur's perspective (that would not be me, but I know the breed) these places don't serve tea that's all that remarkable. But if you're talking about the whole experience of the setting, the little sandwiches and all that then these (as well as probably most places on the list) seem like valid choices. There are probably some others I'd add too, such as the Waldorf=Astoria in New York and the Wedgewood in Vancouver. Also the Tea Box Cafe at Takashimaya in New York.

The only restaurants I've been to where I felt the tea experience -- tea as in the beverage itself -- exceeded what I could easily accomplish at home are the Alain Ducasse signature restaurants. There, if you order mint tea, they prepare a beverage for you that consists of black tea, dried mint, and fresh mint snipped tableside from a live plant. Also they have (or in the case of the New York restaurant, which is now closed, had) a lapsang souchong that was so potent it bordered on tasting like bacon. I've never had one as good.

Probably the best tea I've had in a commercial setting was at the Yixing Xuan Teahouse in Singapore. The owner, a guy named Victor Low, is a tea-appreciation fanatic. But there are no sandwiches or anything like that, so I'm not sure how the place would be categorized.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Probably the best tea I've had in a commercial setting was at the Yixing Xuan Teahouse in Singapore. The owner, a guy named Victor Low, is a tea-appreciation fanatic. But there are no sandwiches or anything like that, so I'm not sure how the place would be categorized.

I think what you have identified is the difference between a Western-style tea room and an Asian-style tea house. For the latter, the tea is the thing.

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Probably the best tea I've had in a commercial setting was at the Yixing Xuan Teahouse in Singapore. The owner, a guy named Victor Low, is a tea-appreciation fanatic. But there are no sandwiches or anything like that, so I'm not sure how the place would be categorized.

I think what you have identified is the difference between a Western-style tea room and an Asian-style tea house. For the latter, the tea is the thing.

Hello- Richard, I think you are on to something. I agree with you, in Asian-style tea houses the taste and presentation of the tea is the most important thing. Food is secondary,good but secondary. My prefered tea house-open since February, and so it had no chance to get on that list-is a traditional Chinese tea house.They serve a real gong fu cha. But the points I wanted to make about their food are: 1)they have a chef who makes amazing salads and other remarkable delights which are displayed at the front counter 2)he works there part-time and, so I do not forget,3) real,quality cookies,too.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I can speak for some of the New York tea rooms.

First, the good news:

I would have to agree that Lady Mendel's is one of the great tearooms. In my opinion, it is the only tearoom in New York. The setting, the tea, the food, all good. It's an all you can eat affair, they tell you if you'd like more of anything to simply say so. They bring at least seven courses, and when you think you are going to explode and sully the charming and sultry-dark little room with sugar sick, the waiter comes and sweetly asks, "Are you ready for dessert?" At which point you start all over again, this time sweeter. Just heavenly. When I pressed to find out where the candied ginger came from (candied ginger is one of the delights that is passed, and is now a permanent fixture at my teas) I was given a secret foil packet of same to take home.

Next, the indifferent news:

I have not had tea at the St. Regis. Will fix.

Last, the bad news:

I hate Alice's Teacup. They have to be kidding about that entry. The first time I went, I was disgusted. Clumps of tea-stained sugar in the sugar bowl, stained cups. Their primary customer is under ten. The Earl Gray creme brulee was remarkable, though.

News that wasn't fit to print:

I'm glad they left out Tea and Sympathy. Works in a pinch, but certainly isn't a player.

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello- My favorite place- goldfish tea-opened in February. IMHO that is the only reason it did not make the list.

"As life's pleasures go, food is second only to sex.Except for salami and eggs...Now that's better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced"--Alan King (1927-2004)

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Queen Mary in Seattle? Well, truth be told, I have never been. I've heard too many rants over the years, though there are quite a few raves on Yelp.

I would head to the Fairmount Olympic Hotel or Sorrento Hotel (holiday season only) long before that place - decor alone. Or far more casual, and uber hip, Remedy Tea.

Are all these places in the $30-35 range, per person?

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  • 1 month later...

Please give this place a try. You may mail order exquisite teas, including small samples. A most gracious lady, Ms. Anupa Mueller, owns and runs the business. Her brother in law in Darjeeling, India, is the very enlightened owner of the Makaibari Tea estate.

I have had a single delightful telephone converstion with Ms.Mueller, after which I unhesitatingly recommend people to purchase from her online store and visit her teashop at Tarrytown. She is English, born in India, and does know how to serve a proper English tea!

Through a common friend who is a food writer in NYC, Matt Gross got to learn a few more things about Makaibari through my praise of its teas and brought me back the cutest little tea-chest the size of a match box as a present. So that is the extent of my commercial interaction with the place!!

The reason I recommend the Silver Tip Store [the sole distributor of Makaibari teas in the USA] is because I am a proud Bangali and the work being done by Makaibari is exemplary for reasons far too many in number to enumerate here. Such effort has very grave consequences, beyond what can be explained easily to someone who is not familiar with the past and current history of that state. It takes a very determined and courageous person to do what this family has achieved.

But sample the teas for their quality, judge them solely by the strictest criteria of taste, flavor and service. Enjoy, and report back please, if you have discovered a good place.

"Silver Tips Tea Room is in Tarrytown, New York, about 35 minutes north of Manhattan, in Westchester County. Tarrytown is one of the famous River Towns on the Hudson and a significant tourist attraction for the area"

http://www.silvertipstea.com/fusionecommer...RoomRestaurant/

http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/travel/14Tea.html

High Tea, India Style

By MATT GROSS

Published: October 14, 2007

Gautam

Edited by v. gautam (log)
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