Destination Tea: Vineyard Cafe

Where:  Historic Marietta Square, GA
Style:  Southern Cafe
Tea Selection:  35+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Sunday-Thursday 11-3; Friday-Saturday 11-4
Reservations:  Walk-ins welcome; 24-hour notice for 6 or more guests; Advance reservation for private parties
Contact:  678-581-3771
Cost:  $8.95 Dessert Tea; $17.95 Full Teasample menu
Destination Tea Tips:  Look up! Enter via the (separately owned) Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar and Gift Shop and walk to the back of the gift shop to find the stairs to Vineyard Cafe. Request a window seat when you reserve to get the full effect of tea on the square. If parking on the square is full, head to the free public lot on Mill Street between the tracks and North Marietta Parkway, and it’s a short jaunt to Vineyard Cafe. Join their VIP Text Club at 51660 for 10% off purchase.

Vineyard Cafe exterior

Destination Tea Notes:  Having recently come under the ownership of hostess Penny Brand, Vineyard Cafe offers homemade lunch fare with healthy leanings. Though truly, while you are perched in their second floor dining rooms overlooking historic Marietta Square, how can you not complete the picture by enjoying the tradition of afternoon tea? Because they bake onsite, if you are with two or three friends strolling through the square, you can pop in on a whim for your afternoon tea without reservations, or if you are tempted (and voracious), choose to augment your tea with items from their lunch menu. You may also reserve Vineyard Cafe dining rooms during and after business hours for private parties or catch a local production at their new dinner theater.

Tea Service

Request a window seat when you reserve to sip your tea overlooking the square.

A beautiful day for tea on the square

Your server lets you know how long to let your tea steep before you press, and will replenish your hot water for a second serving. If your French press lets some leaves into the cups, wait a moment for them to fall to the bottom, then enjoy!

Your server lets you know how long to let your tea steep before you press, and will replenish your hot water for a second serving. If your French press lets some leaves into your cup, wait a moment for them to fall to the bottom, then enjoy!

Each guest may choose one tea from the list of loose leaf teas. The fitting Southern Pecan was a delight.

Each guest may choose one tea from the list of loose leaf teas. The fitting Southern Pecan black tea is naturally-flavored and fabulous all at once.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

A generous sampling of fresh fruit is accompanied by an optional add-on of homemade soup, which changes seasonally. The flavorful broccoli cheese soup was neither overly salty nor too heavy.

An assortment of fresh fruit is accompanied by an optional add-on of homemade soup, which changes seasonally. The flavorful broccoli cheese soup was neither overly salty nor too heavy.

Each guest receives a half Classic Harvest sandwich --  a delicious turkey club served on walnut raisin bread -- as well as a standout chicken salad croissant.

Each guest receives a half Classic Harvest sandwich — a delicious turkey club served on walnut raisin bread — as well as Vineyard Cafe’s standout chicken salad croissant.

House baked scones and  sweets share a plate. Vineyard Cafe's secret recipe honey cream spread perfectly complemented their just-right scones in cranberry-orange, blueberry and cinnamon (our favorite) . Dessert included a cream puff and two homemade cookies that were a nice blend of soft, chewy and sweet. We agreed the cherry almond cupcake earned our top dessert vote.

House baked scones and sweets share a plate. Vineyard Cafe’s secret recipe honey cream spread perfectly complemented their just-right scones in cranberry-orange, blueberry and cinnamon (our favorite) . Dessert included a cream puff and two homemade cookies that were a nice blend of soft, chewy and sweet. We agreed the cherry almond cupcake earned our vote for the afternoon’s top dessert.

Mother-daughter teas are often held in this lovely secret space apart from the two main dining rooms, where dress-up accoutrements await

Mother-daughter teas are often held in this lovely secret space opposite the two main dining rooms, where dress-up accoutrements await.

Destination Tea: ZenTea Tea Room

Where:  Chamblee, GA
Style:  Asian/Modern
Tea Selection:  150+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Monday-Saturday 11:30-3:30; Sunday 11:30-3;
(Private Parties – Saturday 12-2, 3-5 and Sunday 12-2)

Reservations:  24-hour notice; Advance reservation for large parties with deposit
Contact:  678-547-0877
Cost:  $24 High Tea; $29 Gluten-Free High Tea – sample menu
Destination Tea Tip:  ZenTea posts a calendar for upcoming tea tastings

ZenTea ExteriorDestination Tea Notes:  Hostess Connie Miller began sourcing and bagging her own line of teas more than ten years ago and her dedication to offering quality, naturally-flavored and organic teas shines at her tea room. ZenTea’s extensive tea selection is the true star of afternoon tea here, and your hosts are gracious and so well versed in the tea choices that finding a tea you’ll love is a snap. Happily, we were each treated to two pots of tea, sampling each other’s choice and receiving our second pots right before dessert was served. Outside of afternoon tea, there are many ways to explore the wonders of ZenTea’s tea menu, including tea spritzers, sample teas of the day, taking your tea hot or iced, matcha lattes (yum) or sidling up to the bar for a reserved tea tasting. While the front cafe with its free Wi-Fi becomes the “remote office” for some regulars and a bright spot for friends to gather, the peaceful loveliness of the meditation room at back provides a soothing backdrop for your afternoon tea conversation or private party.

Tea Service

Our high tea table in the back meditation room

Our high tea table in the back meditation room

Meditation Room ZenTea

Pretty window seat

Cups are contemporary and pots range from traditional to Japanese cast iron

Cups are contemporary and pots range from traditional to Japanese cast iron

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Scones of blueberry and cranberry are served with clotted cream, lemon curd and preserves

Scones of blueberry and cranberry are served with clotted cream, lemon curd and preserves

Sandwiches are pimiento cheese on wheat and chicken salad croissant

Sandwiches are pimiento cheese on wheat and chicken salad croissant

Made just down the street by Maison Robert, the spinach quiche was buttery and perfectly portioned

Made just down the street by Maison Robert, the spinach quiche was buttery and perfectly portioned

Though we were full, the dessert plate was too tempting: our favorite was the homemade coconut cake, nestled amongst a homemade lemon cookie, caramel cake, raspberry sorbet with florentine and chocolate petit four.

Though we were full, the dessert plate was too tempting: our favorite was the homemade coconut cake, nestled amongst a homemade lemon cookie, caramel cake, raspberry sorbet with florentine and chocolate petit four.

A tea wonderland, including all varieties, organic choices, loose leaf and bagged

A tea wonderland, including all varieties, organic choices, loose leaf and bagged, as well as pots, cups and steeping tools for your next tea at home

Destination Tea: Mittie’s Cafe on Main

Where:  Alpharetta, GA
Style:  Southern
Tea Selection:  2 dozen bagged teas
Teatimes:  Monday-Sunday 8-3; After hours for large private parties
Reservations:  48-hour notice; 7-day notice for large parties
Contact:  770-772-0850
Cost:  $15 Breakfast Tea; $16 Light Tea; $20-$23 High Tea; $10 Children’s High Tea – peruse menus here

Mittie's on Main Cafe Exterior

Destination Tea Notes:  Mittie’s is a local café that serves a variety of tea menus alongside its breakfast and lunch menus. In the Southern style, their homemade foods are rich and generously portioned. High Tea here differs slightly from a traditional afternoon tea in that the meal service follows the tempo of a luncheon and that the boxed tea selection is served DIY-style with a hot pot of water. While we were at tea, Mittie’s relaxed atmosphere set the stage for many groups of friends, co-workers and new moms with infants in tow to chat over lunch.

Tea Service

Our high tea table awaits us

Our high tea table awaits us

A selection of bagged teas is brought to the table with a pot of hot water.

A selection of bagged teas is brought to the table with a pot of hot water

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

For $3, you may add a soup to your High Tea. The lobster bisque is popular with guests.

For $3, you may add a soup to your High Tea. The lobster bisque is popular with guests.

2016-03 MittiesIMG_6867

The afternoon tea menu is served in courses. After the soup follows the fresh fruit cup nestled into a generous helping of savories, including: Quiche du Jour, Cherry Bleu Chicken Phyllo, Cucumber Canapé, Carrot Tea Muffin (we enjoyed that it wasn’t overly sweet), Dave’s Pinwheel Slice and Ms. Emily’s Chicken Salad Croissant.

In keeping with the definition of "high tea," Mittie's offers an ample menu so filling you may have to save some for later!

In keeping with the definition of “high tea,” Mittie’s offers an ample menu so filling you may have to save some for later!

The scone is served with a sweet whipped cream, as well as your choice of two desserts from a platter of assorted macarons, mini cheesecakes and brownies.

The scone is served with a sweet whipped cream, as well as your choice of two desserts from a platter of assorted macarons, mini cheesecakes and brownies.

Scones, cookies and donuts for sale

Homemade scones, cookies and donuts for sale

A back patio offers a breezy atmosphere for tea

A back patio offers a breezy atmosphere for tea

 

Destination Tea: Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary

Where:  Virginia-Highland, Atlanta, GA
Style:  Vintage Apothecary
Tea Selection:  100+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Tuesday-Saturday 11-4:30; Sunday 12-4
Reservations:  24-hour notice, 48-hour notice for parties of 5 or more
Contact:  Doria Roberts, 678-705-7995 or tippleandrose@gmail.com
Cost:  $25 High Tea; $30 Vegan/Gluten-free High Tea; $30 Southern High Tea; $37.50 Special Celebration High Tea; $10 for children 12 and under – peruse menus here
Destination Tea Tip:  Seasonal teas and special events are posted on Facebook

Tipple + Rose Storefront

Destination Tea Notes:  Hostess Doria Roberts takes afternoon tea seriously and consequently she expects you to be on time and read your menu. Just do it, knowing that the payoff is a completely spot-on, sumptuous afternoon tea. Doria may have given me a “Hello? It’s clearly printed on your menu” look when I was surprised to find out we had another course coming (the Digestiv), but I would gladly forego a super-solicitous host for one with Doria’s culinary prowess. This is the real deal.

Tea Service

High Tea at Tipple + Rose

So many delicious teas in the offing

Luxuriating in a soft, vintage armchair, awaiting our high tea

Luxuriating in a soft, vintage armchair, awaiting our high tea

Tea is served and pots sit on warmers

Tea is served and pots sit on warmers

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Lemon curd is housemade, and fig and pomegranate jam is locally made by Emily G's

Lemon curd is housemade, and fig and pomegranate jam is locally made by Emily G’s

We couldn't decide which housemade scone was more wonderful: the cornbread brown sugar or the sundried cherry almond vanilla. Doria is a scone master. We would have preferred the sandwich bread a bit thinner, but the three sandwich flavors were delicious: smoked salmon with boursin and arugula, deviled egg salad, and cucumber with boursin and arugula. (Boursin is like an herbed spreadable cream cheese.)

We couldn’t decide which housemade scone was more wonderful: the cornbread brown sugar or the sundried cherry almond vanilla. Doria is a scone master. We would have preferred the sandwich bread a bit thinner, but the three sandwich flavors were delicious: smoked salmon with boursin and arugula, deviled egg salad, and cucumber with boursin and arugula. (Boursin is like an herbed spreadable cream cheese). Dessert was a pistachio and a chocolate macaron and homemade pastry cream tartlets with raspberries.

Just when you think you cannot eat or drink another thing, the refreshing digestive course arrives: locally made lavender lemonade golda kombucha (a fermented beverage) and raspberry sorbet locally made by Honeysuckle Gelato Co.

Just when you think you cannot eat or drink another thing, the refreshing digestiv course arrives: locally made lavender lemonade golda kombucha (a fermented beverage) and raspberry sorbet locally made by Honeysuckle Gelato Co.

Tipple + Rose items for sale

So many goodies for sale at this apothecary, from bath salts to spices, of course teas and locally made specialties.

2016-03 Tipple RoseIMG_6304

We will definitely be back! Beautiful tea parlor.

 

 

Where to Find Afternoon Tea in Atlanta

Huzzah! Destination Tea is today unveiling our first online directory for afternoon tea — in and around Atlanta. Whether you live in the area or are visiting, we’ve assembled details about the where, what, how much and when of taking tea in Atlanta to simplify the search for your next destination tea.

You can either browse by map or scroll through our sortable list of afternoon tea venues. Where available, we’ve also included links to menus, so you can get excited about the delicious journey on which you are about to embark.atlanta tea venues

If you have an update to the information provided or would like to see your favorite tea venue listed in future directories, please do email us.

Check back periodically, as we will update this directory of Atlanta’s ever-changing afternoon tea scene, as well as add links to our reviews as we visit these venues.

What to Know Before You Go

  • You’ll see that many tea hosts require advance reservations. This makes sense as afternoon tea menus are fairly elaborate with many offerings, some of which, such as fresh scones and breads served warm, are prepped in advance to be ready to pop into the oven when you arrive.
  • Each menu reflects the tastes, culinary background or heritage of your host. Your server will typically identify the goodies on your tea tray upon delivery. Today it is not uncommon for tea venues to offer vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free or allergen-free substitutions. Don’t be afraid to ask when you reserve. See Afternoon Tea 101 to get a feel for the variety of afternoon tea menus. When possible, forward the online menu to your tea companions to determine their preferences because you will typically be asked which tea you’d like to reserve (cream or light tea, high tea, full tea, champagne tea, etc.). Most often all guests share the same level tea, but in some establishments, guests can individually select their tea menus.
  • There isn’t typically a dress code for afternoon tea save some of the ritzy hotels which ask for business casual. We at DestinationTea.com encourage showing yourself off a bit, something elegant or fun, as you like.
  • The first business of afternoon tea is choosing your tea. Each afternoon tea host proffers a unique tea selection. While some offer bottomless pots, allowing you to try several teas in one sitting, others ask each guest to choose one pot which is replenished as requested. As one pot generously supplies three to five teacups, we suggest choosing a variety of teas to share around the table.
  • Most afternoon tea hosts respect the social nature of going to tea, and will graciously allow you to remain at tea for the time it takes your conversation to unfold. Because this doesn’t allow them to seat as many parties in a given business day, you may take this into consideration and help keep your favorite tea venue prospering by patronizing its gift shop, purchasing teas for home and/or tipping your server generously.
  • If you love a certain tea venue and would like to invite a group of friends for an occasion, ask about the possibility of reserving the space for a private party. Many will say yes!
  • Have the most fun! We wish we were there!

 

Remembering Our Faded Rose

We would walk up a stone path, through fragrant bushes of rosemary, lavender and a flowering butterfly garden, to enter the historic 1882 home that was the Faded Rose Tea Garden in Chamblee, Georgia. Faded Rose Tea Garden

It was only after more than a year of ordering off the à la carte menu of freshly made salads, soups and sandwiches, that we discovered the bottomless pots and delectable treats of afternoon tea at the Faded Rose. This world was foreign to us three girls, coming from Italian, Dominican and Vietnamese cultures. No matter; the Faded Rose gradually acquainted us, promising to be “an oasis of calm, gentility and impeccable service,” and it so was. It was our place for a time. We became regulars. We had much to discuss, we knew we would laugh and sometimes cry over our tea. Does memory exaggerate the Faded Rose’s vast tea selection? We were eager to get there and reluctant to depart.

In fiction, mystical places can wink in and out of existence and time after they have served their purpose. With hindsight, we see just how magical the Faded Rose was and how precious our time there. As the Faded Rose closed its doors and was ultimately torn down, that time passed and along with it, that “us”:  that new young mother, that job-seeker who was moving home to New York any day now, that about-to-be Match.com favorite.

The Faded Rose lives still, surely in many fond memories, but also here at Destination Tea, because it is there that we first began playing with the idea of helping others learn about afternoon tea and where to find it.

Faded Rose Green Room Thank you Faded Rose and all the local business owners who give free reign to their imaginations to create beautiful and whimsical afternoon tea rooms and menus. Your hard work creates a home:  for friends to gather, for time to slow, for stories to spill and for senses to wallow in delight.

Brewing Loose Leaf Tea at Home

The many delicious teas of the world come both in individual bags or sachets and in loose leaf form. Once you are comfortable making loose leaf tea at home, there are that many more teas for you to taste. While most teas come with clear instructions, some don’t, like the bulk teas you’ll find at Your DeKalb Farmers Market. That’s no reason to miss out on a great tea. Here’s Angela’s four-step method to brewing tea at home.

Ultimately you’ll develop your own method and “tea tools,” but in the meantime, feel free to copy my style! You will need:  

  1. Something in which to boil your water – kettle, pot, electric kettle
  2. Something in which to steep your tea – glass or metal, make sure it pours without dripping
  3. A teaspoon to measure your tea
  4. Loose leaf tea (surprise!)
  5. Hand strainer or tea infuser (see Infusion Steeping Option)
  6. Something in which to serve your hot tea – teapot, non-plastic pitcher or just mugs or cups if you’re planning on using it all on the first pourloose leaf tea brewing equipment

Step One: Boil Your Water
Obviously. There are actually a couple of details worth knowing about your water:

  1. Temperature Matters. All teas are not steeped in boiling (212 degree) water and there are simple tricks you can use to get around relying on a digital, temperature-controlled kettle. More about this in a following post.
  2. Oxygen-Rich Water Brews the Best Tea. Water that has been left boiling too long or reboiled will have a lower oxygen content. Also, several teahouse owners have emphasized the importance of using filtered water.Boiling Water in Electric Kettle

Step Two:  Measure Your Tea
I use a general guideline of one teaspoon per (8 oz.) cup of water, plus one teaspoon for the pot. So when I boil a 7-cup pot of tea, I measure out 8 teaspoons into my bowl.Measuring Loose Leaf Tea

Step Three:  Time Your Steep and Prep Your Tea Service
When the water is at the right temperature, pour it over your tea leaves into the bowl you’ve readied. You can set a timer or if you trust your short-term memory, glance at the clock. Note that different teas have different steep times (more on this in a following post).2016-02 Brew Loose Leaf TeaIMG_6292

This is when I typically lay out the tea service, which is what we call the set of dishes you will use to serve tea. For guests, you may line a tray with a tea towel or decorative linen or placemat, then add your tea cups, saucers and spoons, fill a creamer with milk, half-n-half or cream by your preference and check that your sugar bowl has been replenished, possibly with sugar cubes, cane sugar, palm sugar or turbinado.

When it’s just me, I skip the full service and simply choose a favorite pottery mug or tea cup and saucer. You might choose to steep more than you know you’ll drink, pour yourself a large mug and filter the rest into a glass pitcher to refrigerate for future ready-to-go iced tea. Teapot, pitcher or cup at the ready

Step Four:  Strain Your Tea and Enjoy!
Pour your tea through a hand strainer either directly into tea cups and mugs, or into a pot or pitcher. Because this whole process takes less than 10 minutes and freshly brewed tea is tastiest, it’s okay to wait until guests have arrived before you put the kettle on for tea.

Infusion Steeping Option
I don’t usually choose to do this, because I find my infuser harder to clean and it can also limit space for the tea leaves as they are trying to open. Its benefit though is that you can simply pull an infuser out of the brewed tea, saving yourself the possibly messy step of pouring tea through a strainer. If you prefer this method, while your water comes to temperature, measure your tea leaves into an infuser and place the infuser inside your tea pot, pitcher or bowl, where you will steep your tea. Have a plate or bowl at the ready to catch your infuser as it emerges.Tea Infusion Method
Tea Savvy Tips:  

  1. Double Brew Your Leaves. While the second steep will have less caffeine (which may be desirable), don’t let those tea leaves go to waste. Simply empty the contents of your strainer back into your bowl and boil up another batch of water. If you have no need for so much tea at the time, strain it into a glass pitcher and refrigerate for iced tea for later.
  2. Compost Used Tea Leaves. They are a nitrogen-rich source of organic material for your garden. Simply add used leaves directly to your compost pile or bin.

 

Afternoon Tea Venues: Tea Room, Tea Bar, Tea Shop, Tea Cafe and Tea House

When planning an afternoon tea outing, like most other city dwellers, Atlantans are gifted with many choices. Lucky us! We have many ambiances and menus to explore at a variety of tea rooms, tea houses, tea shops, tea cafes and tea bars, each with its unique charms.

While some of these terms are used interchangeably, here’s how we’ll use them in upcoming Destination Tea reviews.

Afternoon Tea served at the Four Seasons Atlanta's Park 75 Restaurant

Afternoon tea terrace at the Four Seasons Atlanta’s Park 75 Restaurant

Tea rooms are typically housed within a larger establishment, such as a hotel, department store, country club, bed & breakfast, inn or historic site like an estate or castle (at the top of my destination tea bucket list). These will reflect the style of their hosts and usually have a set teatime in the afternoons. Oftentimes in-town hotel tea rooms offer a grand, classical setting and prepare their afternoon tea trays much like the British traditionally do.

Cozy book nook for afternoon tea at Candler Park's Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party

Cozy book nook for afternoon tea at Candler Park’s Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party

Tea houses, tea cafes, tea shops and tea bars are locally owned businesses whose decor and afternoon tea offerings vary widely and reflect their proprietor’s creativity. Most offer a combination of brunch, lunch and tea menus (walk-in and by reservation) throughout the late morning and afternoon.

A tea house is often a renovated historic home with several themed rooms, while a tea cafe or tea shop may be tucked into a town square or plaza. At all three, you usually feel a woman’s touch in the decor, which may transport you to the early days of afternoon tea and include antiques, unique tea collections, Victorian pieces, even a vintage hat and boa collection. In her decorating, the owner is sharing with her guests what it is she loves about the tradition of taking tea. Many also sell teas from their menus and include a gift shop worth exploring.

Baron York

The once Baron York Cafe in Clarkesville

Tea bars are the latest in tea purveyors, usually designed with clean lines and modern or Asian-themed decor. While some do offer the traditional three-tiered afternoon tea, they also offer tea tastings and encourage à la carte teas, for which you go to the counter to order your tea along with some of their displayed baked goods. Tea bars emphasize tea education and exploration. While more traditionalist afternoon tea-goers can very much enjoy a tea bar, so too can the typical coffee shop patron, who sips tea over a business meeting or a good book. Tea bars also keep hours more like a coffee shop, staying open into the evenings and hosting local workshops, classes or music.

Why not see it all and taste it all? And take the advice of Angela’s Aunt Mary Ann:  patronize the places that you want to be there for you in future. Any of these afternoon tea settings would be a lovely setting for:

  • Showers (Baby, Bridal)
  • Holiday Celebrations (Seasonal Afternoon Tea Specials)
  • Mother-Daughter Outing
  • Multi-Generational Family Get Together
  • Children’s Tea
  • Book Club, Red Hat or other small to medium Group Meetings
  • Tea Education
  • Locally-made Lunch
  • Relaxed Mini-Getaway

Do you already have a favorite tea venue? Please leave a comment telling us where you love going for afternoon tea.

Let the Afternoon Tea Fanfare Begin

Welcome to the world of afternoon tea! Maybe you’ve loved going to tea for decades or years, maybe you’re a newbie to “taking tea,” maybe you’re an Anglophile who loves pretty things and beautiful places or maybe you just love a good time out with friends. However you found your way here, you are in for a treat (or rather, many scrumptious things). afternoon tea cupboard

At Destination Tea, the talk is all about the ritual of afternoon tea. We’ll be spreading the word about where you can find a great tearoom, beginning with Metro Atlanta and including any destination teas we have the luck of attending.

But certainly afternoon tea can be just as thoroughly enjoyed at home with a little preparation (and does not require you to develop a vast teacup and teapot collection, though my cupboard is evidence that I understand the temptation). That’s why we’ll test and share simple, delicious recipes for your tea tray at home.

We’ll also get better acquainted with the elements and etiquette of afternoon tea to make sure that all guests at the tea table are at ease.

And given that most of us teagoers are not certified Master Tea Tasters, we’ll become familiar with the types of tea you may find on a tea menu, to help you find your favorites.

As an introduction, please visit Tea Story and Afternoon Tea 101. As we learn more about afternoon tea from the many experts around the world, we hope you and other visitors to Destination Tea will add to that knowledge, which we will happily pass on.

That’s what we do at Destination Tea:  our small part in keeping alive the lovely tradition of afternoon tea in our fast-paced modern world.