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 venues would be a lovely setting for:

  • Showers (Baby, Bridal)
  • Holiday Celebrations (Seasonal Afternoon Tea Events)
  • Mother-Daughter Outing
  • Multi-Generational Family Get-Together
  • Children’s Tea
  • Book Club, Red Hat or other 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.