Destination Tea: Astor Court at The St. Regis Atlanta

Where:  Buckhead, GA
Style:  Elegant Traditional
Tea Selection:  12 loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Friday-Sunday 2:30-4
Reservations:  24-hour notice
Contact:  404-563-7799
Cost:  $40 Caroline Astor Afternoon Tea; $22 Children’s Tea – sample menu here
Destination Tea Tips:  Pull up to the main entrance of The St. Regis to have your car valeted (bring cash for a tip) and have your ticket validated at the hostess stand before you leave. Reserve afternoon tea during different seasons or holidays throughout the year to experience The St. Regis’ changing afternoon tea menus and specialty tea blends (i.e., the Mother’s Day tea with roses).

Exterior St. Regis

Destination Tea Notes:  At the St. Regis Atlanta hotel, fashionably dressed afternoon tea guests wind their way up curling staircases to luxuriate in armchairs in the second-floor Astor Court, which acts as an indoor balcony, overlooking the beautiful lobby chandelier. In this setting, lovers of historical novels and period films should not be surprised if your first thought is, “if only I had worn a proper tea gown.”  Here you can easily imagine yourself in the company of 19th century high society hostess Lady Caroline Astor, whose son founded the St. Regis. And when an executive pastry chef is in the kitchen, you know your afternoon tea repast will be a treat worth every penny.

The hostess greets you at the top of the stairs.
At the top of the left staircase, a hostess greets afternoon tea guests. Go straight up!
Afternoon tea tables hug the balcony railing or bask in the sun from floor to ceiling windows
Afternoon tea tables hug the balcony railing or bask in the sun from floor-to-ceiling windows.

Tea Service

Uniquely, our server welcomes us by sharing the historical significance of the Astor Court's afternoon tea, then familiarizes us with all twelve teas and the seasonal Mother's Day tea by passing around samples of each
Uniquely, our server welcomes us by sharing the historical significance of the Astor Court’s afternoon tea, then familiarizes us with all twelve teas and the seasonal Mother’s Day tea by passing around samples of each.
Each guest selects one tea and may request a second steeping
Each guest selects one tea and may request a second steeping. We tried several and shared, including the St. Regis’ own blend with black currant and peach essence.

Scones and Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Lemon curd, clotted cream and jams await the scones
Lemon curd, clotted cream and jams await the scones.
Lemon poppy seed and violet scones arrive. One of our party declares the violet scones are the best she's ever had. We wonder at how the violet flavor is so thoroughly infused throughout the scone.
Lemon poppy seed and violet scones arrive. One of our party declares the violet scones are the best she’s ever had. We wonder at how the violet flavor is so thoroughly infused throughout the scone. Magic?
"Springtime savories" include roast turkey and spinach wrap with brie and apricot mostarda, green goddess chicken salad on whole wheat with heirloom tomatoes, smoked salmon flatbread with crème fraîche and caviar, and cucumber sandwich with watercress lemon aioli. All delicious and perfectly portioned for an afternoon tea.
“Springtime savories” include roast turkey in spinach wrap with brie and apricot mostarda, green goddess chicken salad on whole wheat with heirloom tomatoes, smoked salmon flatbread with crème fraîche and caviar, and cucumber sandwich with watercress lemon aioli. All delicious and perfectly portioned for an afternoon tea.
Two tiers of confections? If we must. Giving thanks to the expert hands who crafted these sweets, we oohed and aahed our way through a linzer cookie, chocolate cremeux with mocha, lemon blueberry tartlet, strawberry basil petite four and (the crowd favorite) a salted caramel and chocolate cone.
Two tiers of confections? If we must. Giving thanks to the expert hands who crafted these sweets, we “ooh and aah” our way through a linzer cookie, chocolate cremeux with mocha, lemon blueberry tartlet, strawberry basil petite four (great in-season flavor combination) and (the crowd favorite) a salted caramel and chocolate cone.
Plenty of time for old friends to catch up and for new friends to meet
Plenty of time for old friends to catch up and for new friends to meet

Destination Tea: Tafa’s Restaurant

Where:  Historic Roswell, GA
Style:  Warm Traditional
Tea Selection:  15+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Tuesday-Sunday 11:30-3:30; 5:30-9
Reservations:  48-hour notice
Contact:  770-643-5813
Cost:  $30 High Tea; $25 Light Tea  – peruse menus here
Destination Tea Tips:  Note that this is the only venue in the Metro Atlanta area that offers a tea service during both regular lunch and dinner hours, allowing you to enjoy high tea at its (historically) proper time:  in the evening, perhaps after you get off work.

Tafa's Exterior

Destination Tea Notes:  Newcomer to the afternoon tea scene, Tafa’s Restaurant is a family-run Syrian-Greek restaurant, opened in late 2015 in the historic home that housed the former Roswell Teahouse. Tafa’s must have known that the only way to help us get over the loss of a beloved teahouse was to delight us with an afternoon tea menu the likes of which Atlantans have never seen. Especially for world travelers, foodies and cuisine explorers, Tafa’s should not be missed. Mediterranean specialties, flavors and spices abound in every course of this menu — from tea through dessert — which we happily explored with our server as our gracious guide. In place of the scones and spreads you’d find in a typical British tea, Tafa’s offers two tiers of sandwiches, making this ample meal deserving of the “high tea” moniker.

Tables surround a fireplace in our sunlit room of this 1920s home.
Tables surround a fireplace in our sunlit room of this 1920s home.

Tea Service

Thankfully Tafa's teas include bottomless pots, allowing us to adventure freely amongst their unique tea menu
Thankfully Tafa’s high tea includes bottomless pots, allowing us to adventure freely amongst their unique tea menu, which tempts with flavors like papaya, marzipan, aniseed and grenadine.
Tea is served in cast iron teapots and glass teacups
Tea is served in cast iron teapots and glass teacups.

Savories and Sweets

Very generous bowls of soup accompany the high tea. We shared a spinach soup and a tomato rice soup.
Very generous bowls of soup accompany the high tea. We shared a spinach soup and a rice soup.
Comforting rice soup with tomato puree
Comforting rice soup with tomato puree
Tafa's tea tray
The only items Tafa’s does not make in-house are its breads, which they source from a local bakery. They actually make their own cream cheese and yogurt for their tea sandwiches which include hummus, black olive, cucumber and labneh salad (yogurt with tomatoes, red onions and herbs). Everything was delicious!
Thankfully the tea sandwiches are open faced, so that you aren't overwhelmed with bread before you reach the croissant tier which includes chicken salad, sautéed spinach and Syrian croissants. While they were each scrumptious, the standout for us was the Syrian croissant which featured the traditional za'atar spice blend in its spread.
Tea sandwiches are open faced, so as not to overwhelm you with bread before you reach the croissant tier which includes chicken salad, sautéed spinach and Syrian croissants. While they were each scrumptious, the standout for us was the Syrian croissant which featured the traditional za’atar spice blend in its spread.
Desserts at Tafa's
Each of the three desserts was new to us, including date balls, coconut balls (YUM!) and biscuits au chocolat (with not-too-sweet dark chocolate).
Sneak peek at the next seasonal tea: Mango & Friends. Loose leaf teas and artwork are for sale.
Sneak peek at Tafa’s next seasonal tea: Mango & Friends. Loose leaf teas and artwork are for sale.
Outdoor seating beckons for a tree-shaded outdoor tea.
Outdoor seating beckons for an al fresco patio tea.

 

Destination Tea: Tea Leaves and Thyme Tea House

Where:  Downtown Woodstock, GA
Style:  Southern Whimsy
Tea Selection:  50+ loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Tuesday-Saturday 10-4
Reservations:  Strongly suggested; Walk-ins welcome
Contact:  770-516-2609
Cost:  $22 Queen’s Tea; $21 Children’s Character Tea; $16.50 Classic Afternoon Tea; $13 Light Afternoon Tea; $12 Mad Hatter’s Children’s Tea;  – peruse menus here
Destination Tea Tips:  Seasonal teas and special events are posted on their website. This popular teahouse does book up, so be sure to call ahead to reserve your teatime. Everyone in your party may individually choose whether to order from the lunch menu, a tea menu, or a combination of the two.

Exterior Tea Leaves and Thyme

Destination Tea Notes:  Tea Leaves and Thyme Hostess Kim Jordy has been serving up a homemade afternoon tea repast for more than 18 years, and it shows. In a historic home opposite the railroad tracks, you pass a board in the foyer welcoming reserved tea guests by name, as you make your way to a tea table in the enclosed front porch or one of four rooms with tables tucked around fireplaces. Here, you’ll easily convert your friends and family into afternoon tea lovers, because this experience comes with all the trappings. Gracious, knowledgable servers who are attentive without rushing you? Check. Bottomless pots of quality and flavored teas? Check. Scrumptious, made-from-scratch tea tray goodies? Check. Vintage flair that takes you back in time — from tea cups to tea dresses to antique decor? Check. While afternoon tea can feel like an extravagant treat, it is so reasonably priced here that your wallet won’t think so. Simply, Tea Leaves and Thyme is the quintessential teahouse.

Sunlit enclosed porch
Sunlit enclosed porch
A group of friends held a baby shower in this room while we were at tea
A group of friends held a baby shower in this room while we were at tea.

Tea Service

Our server pointed out the crowd favorite (Snowflake) and her own favorite (Strawberry Cream) from this extensive menu. All our teas were delicious.
Our server pointed out the crowd favorite (Snowflake) and her own favorite (Strawberry Cream) from this extensive menu. Her recommendations and our adventurous choices were all delicious.
Our first pot of many...
Our first pot of many – steeped and filtered in the kitchen, then poured through the antique strainer for ceremonial effect before settled on its warmer

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

The cream of artichoke soup was a seasonal and delicious treat. When we heard this was the soup of the day, we couldn't resist adding it à la carte to our afternoon tea menu.
When we heard cream of artichoke was the soup of the day, we couldn’t resist adding it à la carte to our afternoon tea menu — a wise move on our part.
With the Classic Afternoon Tea, you may select either a Chicken Salad Croissant, Chicken Salad on Lettuce or Sundried Tomato Tartlet (our favorite)
With the Classic Afternoon Tea, you may select either a Chicken Salad Croissant, Chicken Salad on Lettuce or Sundried Tomato Tartlet (a delicious savory-sweet quiche-like concoction).
We enjoyed the fresh grapes in this homemade chicken salad.
Fresh grapes moisten the homemade chicken salad.
Afternoon Tea tray at Tea Leaves and Thyme
“We don’t bake bread” is the simplest way for Kim Jordy to explain that nearly every item on Tea Leaves and Thyme’s menu is made in-house. Fresh fruit accompanies scones served with a whipped almond cream and lemon curd. An edible orchid graces the sandwich tier, which includes classic cucumber mint, pimiento cheese, pineapple cream cheese on raisin, and ham striped sandwiches. The dessert tier treated us to crème de menthe brownies, blueberry muffins with amaretto cream, chocolate chip fruit bars (our favorite) and (luscious) lemon bars.
Watching the trains go by, as we sip from dainty china
Watching the trains go by, as we sip from dainty china
Fun hats and dresses stand by for those inclined to dress the part
Fun hats and dresses stand by for those inclined to dress the part.
You pay your bill inside the gift shop, which is hard to traverse without being tempted to browse, so leave a little extra time to enjoy yourself here.
You pay your bill inside the gift shop, which is hard to traverse without being tempted to browse, so leave a little extra time to enjoy yourself here.