Destination Tea: Jewell Gardens

Where:  Skagway, AK
Style:  Garden Sunroom
Tea Selection:  Signature English Rose loose leaf black tea
Teatimes:  Daily 11-3
Reservations:  Walk-ins welcome
Contact: 907-983-2111
Cost:  $9.95 Tea Plate and Tea
Destination Tea Tip:  In the summer months, cruise lines book very large parties for tea here as part of a pre-purchased Skagway excursion. If you want to go for tea during this time of year and are not doing so as part of an excursion, it is recommended walk-ins arrive after 1 pm, when the crowds have gone.

Destination Tea Notes:  Many of us afternoon tea enthusiasts also love the romance of a beautiful garden, not unlike our 19th century counterparts who enjoyed taking tea in private and public gardens. It may seem surprising that a lush garden can grow in Alaska, but due to the 20-hour days of sunlight in their summer season, farms and gardens here actually flourish and can grow record-breaking, giant-sized produce. Capitalizing on all this daylight, Jewell Gardens offers homemade garden-to-table specialties in its Poppies Garden Restaurant, serving an afternoon tea that delights all the senses at once. While savoring a delicious tea menu, you gaze upon a picturesque garden featuring blown glass accents made on premises. Afterwards you may pay a fee to tour the garden and glassworks.

The entrance to Poppies restaurant is framed with potted flowers peppered with teacups and saucers.
Jewell Gardens’ glassworks contributes colorful hanging lamps and globes and table centerpieces that add personality to the brightly lit garden room overlooking the grounds.
A row of teapots sits above the wall-to-wall windows in this adjacent enclosed porch.

Tea Service

You may either purchase a cup or pot of Jewell Gardens’ signature black tea blend, English Rose. It is a fragrant, strong brew that we loved so much, we bought some in the gift shop afterwards.

Scones, Savories and Sweets

My daughter LOVED the vegetable minestrone with homegrown veggies, which we chose to order in addition to our tea plates.
We also sighed over Jewell Gardens’ kale caesar salad, which was outstanding in freshness and flavor. Even the croutons were herb flavored.
This cheese herb scone has great buttery flavor and reminded me of a recent lesson I received from an Australian friend and tea aficionado: that, traditionally, scones should have the consistency of what we in the Southern United States call a biscuit. If it had been served warm, Jewell Gardens’ scone would have entirely hit the mark for both my Australian friend and me.
The tea plate included cucumber sandwich with red pepper spread (yum), vegetable quiche (fabulous), fresh baked scone, ruby begonia bar and carrot cake (scrumptious).
Closer look at the ruby begonia bar
Touring the gardens; fences adorned with cherry and berry red glass-blown baubles
The White Pass Railroad winds through miniature Skagway.
Love how they pair similarly colored glass sculptures and flowers

Jewell Gardens’ teasets and signature house blend English Rose loose leaf tea available for purchase in the gift shop


Destination Tea: Indigo Tea Lounge

Where:  Anchorage, AK
Style:  Modern
Tea Selection:  150+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Friday-Sunday 12-4
Reservations:  24-hour notice
Contact:  907-222-1619
Cost:  $25 Afternoon Tea; $12 Scones and Tea
Destination Tea Tip:  Indigo Tea Lounge also offers hot breakfast items starting at 9 am on weekdays, which paired with its generous seating makes it a perfect Starbucks-alternative morning meeting place.

Destination Tea Notes:  Heartbreak is knowing afternoon tea is nearby and not having fit it into your travel schedule! Thankfully my second eldest and I were able to sneak away early the morning we left Anchorage for a DIY cream tea that deliciously turned into a breakfast tea when we discovered Indigo Tea Lounge’s hot breakfast menu (oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches and quiche). The current space is an upgrade on their former downtown set-up as a corner tea room inside a furniture store. Yes! The world needs more restful spaces for afternoon tea, and Indigo Tea Lounge is such a haven.

So many fun seating arrangements to choose from: low midnight-blue velvety sofas, high-top tables, sleek bar seats, table for two with funky rounded swivel chairs. We are tempted by the swanky low seating, but finally perch at a high-top near the pass-through.

Tea Service

This vast tea selection is made accessible by Indigo Tea’s informative descriptions of each tea variety, included on bag labels for any teas you may purchase.
We chose pots of the Pina Colada and Velvet Teas. (A dessert tea for breakfast? Why not? It’s vacation!)
Before we leave, our barista offers us a second steep for the road – love this!

Savories and Sweets

My daughter’s face lights up as she takes her first bite of this hot breakfast sandwich with arugula, egg, bacon and cheese. I had to verify it was that good. Confirmed.
From the baked goods display case, we choose this lavender cream cupcake with perfect not-too-sweet and so-fragrant frosting.
For the tea lover in your life, Indigo Tea Lounge has a wide variety of gifts which you can pair with their loose leaf teas by the ounce. Thanks to social media, I was able to fill a special request on the spot for tea flavored with real coconut.

Destination Tea: The Peacock Tea Room

Where:  Georgia Renaissance Festival, Fairburn, GA
Style:  Tudor Gazebo
Tea Selection:  40 loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Saturday-Sunday 10:30-6
Reservations:  Walk-ins welcome
Contact:  Chef Randy,
Cost:  Admission to Georgia Renaissance Festival plus…$17 Trifle, Tea Sandwich Plate, Scones and Tea; $13 Tea Sandwich Plate, Scones and Tea; $8 Scones and Tea;
Destination Tea Tips:  To access the Peacock Tea Room, you will need to purchase admission to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, for which discounts can be found online. Because there are no reservations and this tea room has earned itself a loyal following over the years, we suggest that you arrive just before the fair opens and upon entering, make a beeline for the tea room at the rear of the fairgrounds, to avoid waiting for a table. Menus change to suit the fair’s weekly themes and Chef Randy posts a preview of the upcoming weekend’s specials on The Peacock Tea Room’s Facebook page. At the Peacock, you will order your afternoon tea courses à la carte, and may want to request Chef Randy’s “secret menu” to sample his favorite tea sandwiches and latest drink concoctions.

Destination Tea Notes:  Year-round, Host Randy Sheppard keeps in touch with his more than 2,000 tea room regulars via Facebook, where many a “can’t wait!” appears in the comments, because The Peacock Tea Room is a seasonal tearoom, open only for eight weeks during the springtime Georgia Renaissance Festival. Chef Randy takes pride in the changes he has made to the tearoom’s open-air layout and beautification. (Renaissance Festival shops and restaurants are owned and renovated by individual business owners). A man of many talents, he is the artist behind the tearoom’s signage, as well as the made-from-scratch menu, because he says, “if I didn’t make it, I can’t take a compliment for it.” Well, he has our compliments, both for being a most gracious and friendly host who frequently tours his picturesque tearoom to chat with his guests, and for the creativity he infuses into the Peacock’s food and tea offerings.

Preparing ourselves for merriment
Arrive 15 minutes before the festival opens to see the opening act
The queen officially welcomes us and opens the fair
Guests and festival actors alike dress in costume. Here the kissing bandit issues his challenge.
The Peacock Tea Room sits at the rear of the festival grounds.
The colorful gazebo treats diners to a shady respite amid the sounds of the festival
Our tea table for two

Tea Service

Loose leaf blended teas range from the standards to very fun flavors, like Irish Whiskey Cream and Apple Cinnamon Coffeecake.
I loved my teacup! See our loose leaf teas steeping. We enjoyed our selections.
Wisely, Chef Randy encouraged us to sample this new addition to the “secret menu”: the Thai iced tea, which was refreshing to sip as we strolled through the festival.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Using a family recipe, Chef Randy makes a generous and just-right scone. The weekly flavors were snickerdoodle scone and sweet scone (very good) with raspberry jam and Devonshire cream. We chose to order several items and share. The scone plate was definitely enough for two.
For kids weekend, the tea sandwich plate featured Smoked Honey Ham and “New World Cheese” (American) on pumpernickel and Strawberry Banshee (spicy) Jam and Creamy Peanut Butter on wheat. The homemade jam with ghost peppers was balanced by the smooth, sweet peanut butter. We appreciated the included arugula salad as a healthy addition.
While we would have liked a home-baked crust in place of the slightly tough empanada shell, the Baked Tomato and Balsamic Tart featuring Chef Randy’s heirloom tomato jam and similarly constructed Sausage, Apple and Cheddar Pie were tasty flavor combinations with just a touch of sweetness.
The orange dreamsicle trifle was very yummy and plenty for two to share.