Where: Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia Style: Classic luxury Tea Selection: 12 loose leaf teas by Tealeaves Teatimes: Thursday to Sunday, 2:30-4:30 Reservations: Required Contact: 404-995-7500 or online Cost: $38 Traditional Afternoon Tea Destination Tea Tips: Though the Mandarin has a Peachtree Road address, you’ll actually turn onto Stratford Road to enter the hotel driveway. Reminder to bring cash to tip the valet.
Destination Tea Notes: We celebrated when the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta reinstated its afternoon tea service this summer, especially given that an icon of afternoon tea – the Ritz-Carlton – closed its Buckhead hotel earlier this year. At the Mandarin, you will find every component of a traditional afternoon tea at an upscale hotel: gracious service, leisurely pace, elegant decor, luxury tea selection and an elevated culinary take on the standard sweets and savories. Fancified girlfriends laugh over their royal teas (champagne added) in the ivory rotunda while other guests step through to the sunlit, charcoal grey bar room to take a late lunch or cocktail. As our servers encourage an unrushed affair, we happily settle into our quiet alcove for a private, uninterrupted teatime chat.
Where: Charleston, South Carolina Style: Coastal charm Tea Selection: 6 loose leaf teas by Charleston Tea Plantation Teatimes: Monday to Saturday, 11:30-4:30 Reservations: 24-hour notice minimum Contact: 843-297-8118 Cost: $28 Afternoon Tea Destination Tea Tips: You’ll find the entrance to the tearoom at the building’s rear, near the parking area, which is tight to maneuver, so consider parking on the street nearby.
Destination Tea Notes: Our hosts, chefs Enan and Jenn Parenzo have, like any good marriage, the perfect division of labor, with Jenn whipping up delicious desserts and Enan crafting the savories. Prepare yourself for an extraordinary culinary treat with these two professional chefs in the kitchen. Also, guests will delight in spotting artistic touches like the custom branded “Twenty Six Divine” tables, outdoor signage, eclectic teaware and locally sourced gifts. We couldn’t help purchasing a piece of the beautiful local artwork decorating the walls of the cozy, prettily painted tearoom, found at the back of this Charleston single house (so named because it is one-room wide). While the tearoom seats about 20, it is no amateur affair. Rather, it feels like we have lucked into a secret afternoon tea club, with Jenn herself as our hostess, friendly and ready to present a creatively crafted, exquisite menu to her guests. This tearoom earns its moniker: divine!
Where: Newmarket-On-Fergus, County Clare, Ireland Style: Castle resort Tea Selection: 18+ loose leaf teas Teatimes: Feb.-Nov., Daily 1-4 Reservations: Highly recommended Contact: 800-346-7007 Cost: €29+ Mrs. White’s Afternoon Tea Destination Tea Tips: Dress up and prepare to luxuriate. If you are staying at sister hotel The Inn at Dromoland, there is a paved walking path that cuts through the golf course to reach the castle in about ten minutes.
Destination Tea Notes: On occasion, I have been known to say “wow-wow-wooey,” and now only slightly apologize for using such an informal turn of speech in describing our reaction to the elegant Dromoland Castle. The ancestral home of Irish royals, Dromoland Castle was transformed into a resort hotel in the ’60s and is now actually Irish-American owned. The historic, majestic backdrop of the castle lends the ritual of taking tea an authentic air. All things served are excellent, from well-executed teatime standards to locally sourced unique flavor combinations. Servers are just as happy to answer questions as to leave us to our leisure. A piano gently plays. The Dromoland Castle afternoon tea experience, full of delicious lavishness and regal ambiance, ranks as one of our all-time favorites.