Destination Tea: Montpelier Mansion

Where:  Laurel, MD
Style:  Georgian
Tea Selection:  2 loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Monthly teas with multiple seatings
Reservations:  Reserved with credit card (teas can sell out weeks in advance)
Contact:  301-377-7817
Cost: $30 Holiday Tea (ages 18 and up); $26 Members (includes gratuity and self-guided tour)
Destination Tea Tip:  Upon entering the Montpelier Mansion grounds, follow signs for the mansion, winding around to the parking lot and then walk up a brick path to the house. Be sure to allow time for a visit to the gift shop and your self-guided tour of this historical home.Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, MD

Destination Tea Notes:  The volunteer staff at Montpelier Mansion has thought of everything to make their afternoon tea events special, from decorations to favors, from gracious service to a masterfully catered menu provided by The Tea Trolley in Delta, Pennsylvania. Celebrating a holiday by taking tea at this 18th-century estate feels like we are properly ringing in the season. A light snowfall envelopes the mansion as we settle in for a scrumptious tea by a bedecked fireplace. Afterwards we dip a toe into the past during our self-guided tour and find locally made gifts at the mansion’s holiday Artists’ Boutique. Wisely, while bidding us farewell, Montpelier Mansion staff announce upcoming teas for the year, and if we were locals, we would be making every effort to miss not a one of them!

Walking to Montpelier Mansion from the parking lot
Approaching the mansion from the parking lot
Entering Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, MD
Entering through the gift shop
Table for tea at Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, MD
We step back in time at our fireside table for two beautifully decorated with wintry greenery. An unexpected treat:  favors sit at our places – handmade soaps infused with tea — cleverly labeled with upcoming tea dates at the mansion. 
Tea room at Montpelier Mansion
The cheerful yellow tea room decorated with Christmas colors is brightly lit by the sun reflecting off the snow outside.

Tea Service

For this winter tea, mansion volunteers serve two options — a Montpelier blend (Darjeeling) and a Coconut Almond Snowflake black tea (fabulous). We enjoyed copious amounts of our favorite, thanks to the servers’ diligent attentions.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Sweet scones from the Tea Trolley in Delta, PA
The Tea Trolley’s signature sweet scones have perfect texture, and are a bit sweet for us, so we share one between us.
It’s the little things that make afternoon tea special, like these tiny teapot handles on our condiment spoons.
Tea sandwiches at Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, MD
The Tea Trolley hits the mark with creative and tasty sandwiches that counter the winter chill with a taste of the tropics, with pineapple-ham, spinach cream cheese, mango chutney and chicken salad with grape sandwiches. Yum!
Desserts at Montpelier Mansion afternoon tea
The desserts are too good. We savor our mint chocolate cupcake, white chocolate orange truffle, pecan tartlet and — saving the best for last — an eggnog cheesecake (yes!).
Tour pamphlet at Montpelier Mansion in Laurel, MD
Time for our self-guided tour of this 18th century home
Touring Montpelier Mansion
Tea service laid out in the family living room
Gift shop finds at Montpelier Mansion
Children’s tea sets, loose leaf teas, locally made gifts and other tea paraphernalia are for sale in the mansion gift shop.

Destination Tea: Lady Camellia Pastry and Tea Room

Where:  Georgetown, Washington, DC
Style:  Victorian
Tea Selection:  35+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Tuesday to Friday 1-5, Saturday to Sunday 11-7
Reservations:  Strongly recommended (3-week notice recommended for weekends)
Contact:  202-333-2308
Cost:  $38 High Tea; $32 Full Tea; $24 English Pie Tea; $23 Savory Tea; $19 Light Tea; $18 Cream Tea; $21 Children’s Full Tea; $17 Children’s Sandwich Tea (ages 10 and under)
Destination Tea Tip:  Request a table in the tea room’s beveled bay window for a cozy, sunlit afternoon tea experience.

Exterior Lady Camellia Tea Room in DC

Destination Tea Notes:  Slipped amongst Georgetown’s historic rowhouses, Lady Camellia’s lime green front welcomes tea-goers for a bit of a “choose your own adventure” afternoon tea experience. Once seated in the feminine, intimate tearoom, you first select your afternoon tea menu (options listed above) and then how you’d like to populate it, from the seasonal sandwiches, scones, croissants, English pie and/or pastries currently offered. Repeat customers could easily customize their experience to have a different tea adventure every time they visit. Ensconced in an historical building where tea was surely taken hundreds of years ago, we perch grandly in our Baroque-style chairs, wondering if the quietude we found upon entering warns of stuffiness. Nope! As new guests arrive for their teatimes, the room fills with animated conversation and the vibe is relaxed and friendly, with tea-goers not there to be seen, but rather to see each other.

Entering Lady Camellia in DC
Robin’s-egg-blue paned door gives you your first glimpse of Lady Camellia’s sweet interior.
fireplace seat in Lady Camellia in DC
The image of enjoying afternoon tea by the fire is instantly warming as we step in out of the December wind.
Lady Camellia interior in DC
Lady Camellia’s narrow interior is decorated with soft whites, pastels and elegant tufted chairs.
Tea table at Lady Camellia's in DC
Just the right amount of girlishness in our table setting

Tea Service

afternoon tea menu choices at Lady Camellia in DC
If I were local, I would definitely return to try the English Pie Tea (because, alas, there is only so much one can eat in a sitting). For this visit, we opt to make the Full Tea a “Tea for Two.”
pastry choice at Lady Camellia in DC
A chalkboard with the seasonal desserts presents a serious challenge. Which desserts did we choose? Read on…
Tea choices at Lady Camellia
Our “Tea for Two” comes with a pot of tea each. I have a personal goal to sample more unflavored teas, but find Smoky Rose, Vanilla Mint, Gingerbread and Meyer Lemon too tempting to not try one.
Tea is poured at Lady Camellia
Tea is served!

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Tea sandwiches at Lady Camellia in DC
We choose the chicken salad, brie and apple, and smoked salmon tea sandwiches, which are generously portioned and yummy.
pastry and scone course at Lady Camellia in DC
For our next course, we elect to sample the apple and pain au chocolat croissants, and white chocolate cranberry scone, served with cream and jam. Clearly, we unabashedly cater to His Majesty, the Most Exalted Sweet Tooth. 
Desserts at Lady Camellia afternoon tea in DC
For our four pastries, we agree on the red velvet cupcake, vanilla crème brûlée, fleur de sel caramel macaron and pecan tartlet, all delicious. We congratulate ourselves on our excellent ordering and sharing skills.

Have You Joined A Tea Society?

Afternoon tea table set at Chastain Park Conservancy
Atlanta Tea Society visited Chastain Park Conservancy for a farm tour followed by afternoon tea

New year’s resolution for afternoon tea lovers:  join a tea society!

Local or online tea societies bring together tea sisters and brothers for some or all of the following:  tea education, society afternoon teas or themed events (i.e., with guest speaker, etiquette class, costumes, book review or historical lecture), discussion of all things tea, recommendations for teas or afternoon tea venues and in rare cases, a welcome gift box (tea goodies!).

Rosie Davidson master gardener of Farm Chastain
Originally from Scotland, Farm Chastain’s master gardener Rosie Davidson is our hostess twice over:  part farm tour guide, part afternoon tea hostess. Here she is picking snap peas for us to taste.
One of our new Atlanta Tea Society friends prepares the scones that Rosie baked, spreading them with cream and preserves per her directions. Rosie also brought camellia cuttings for her teatime presentation, in which she shared with us about her teaware, how tea grows, her favorite tea varieties and how the British take tea.

As a tea society member, not only are you hip to the latest in the world of tea, but you are sure to make some new friends who enjoy thoughtful conversation over tea.

Atlanta Tea Society organizer Prima personally catered this event, treating us to a table set with fine china and tier after tier of finger sandwiches, mini quiches, gourmet truffles and fruit tartlets.

Tea society membership is oftentimes free — in the case of Facebook or Meetup groups — or can have a nominal annual membership fee, like $25, that comes with certain perks. Society email newsletters or Facebook posts invite members to society events and share tea news. Here are some tea societies for you to explore. If your tea society is not listed, please share its name in the comments, and we’ll update this article with your additions. Thank you!

Tea Societies

Facebook – Afternoon Tea Across America
Albuquerque, New Mexico – Albuquerque Ladies Tea Society
Athens/Atlanta, Georgia – World Tea Society
Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta Tea Society
Bancroft, Michigan – Grand Oak Herb Farm Tea Society
Hawaii – Hawaii Tea Society
Hudson, Ohio – Secret Tea Society
New York, New York – New York Tea Society (NYTS)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Victorian Ladies Tea Society of Philadelphia
Prescott, Arizona – The Prescott Tea Society
Southern California (SoCal) – Tea Travellers SocieTea
USA/Canada – JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America) – not a tea society, but meetings and annual festival include afternoon tea

WWII era hangar
Atlanta Tea Society created a special opportunity for us to take tea inside this historical, World War II era hangar.

If you are in the metro Atlanta area and haven’t yet joined the Meetup group Atlanta Tea Society, you are missing invitations to one-of-a-kind afternoon tea outings. Since joining ATS, I’ve not only met new friends who love going to tea, I’ve also been able to experience afternoon tea venues that only take larger parties or special tea events organized by the group, such as this November Garden Tea Party at the Chastain Park Conservancy. I thank ATS for a lovely memory!

Farm Chastain veggies
Touring the raised beds before our teatime
Afternoon tea and farm tour at Chastain Park Conservancy and Farm Chastain
Greeting the Farm Chastain residents
table set for afternoon tea at Chastain Park Conservancy
Repairing to this open-air setting for an elegant garden tea
tea tray at Garden party afternoon tea
Time for tea, replete with champagne, specialty spreads and macarons.
Fortnum & Mason Fauchon teas
Favors! Rosie gifts us with her favorite Fortnum & Mason and Fauchon teas from overseas.