Where: Vancouver, BC Style: Modern Whimsy Tea Selection: 30+ loose leaf teas Teatimes: Saturday-Sunday 11:00, 12:45, 2:30 or 4:15 Reservations: 24-hour notice Contact: 604-558-3308 or email@example.com Cost: $36 High Tea Destination Tea Tip: Though plans are in the works to renovate the space, currently Soirette’s afternoon tea seating is limited to about five tables, so be sure to reserve your teatime well in advance.
Destination Tea Notes: Knowing we would only be in Vancouver for a few days, the pressure was on to choose our destination teas wisely. After much research, we reserved our tea with Soirette, a pastry boutique specializing in housemade macarons that also serves high tea on the weekends. Soirette offers a tempting array of teas (thankfully the six of us were each given our own pot, allowing us to sample several), homemade savories, scones and sweets that fuse Asian and French cuisines, and a menu that utilizes seasonal, local ingredients: yes, yes and yes! This we enjoyed in a sleek setting punctuated by pops of bright color. If I were a Vancouverite, I would be a repeat Soirette customer, especially to sample their seasonal tea menus.
Where: Alaska Style: Elegant Traditional Tea Selection: Black tea Teatimes: Days noted in the daily newsletter, 3:30-4:30 Reservations: Walk-ins welcome Contact:800-774-6237 Cost: Included with your stay Destination Tea Tip: It will likely be many years before we at Destination Tea are able to review every cruise lines’ afternoon tea service (#dreamjob). In the meanwhile, if you are researching your next cruise, check out these pictorial reviews of afternoon tea at sea: “Best Afternoon Tea on Cruises” from CruiseCritic.com and “Best High Tea at Sea” from CruiseDeals.co.uk.
Destination Tea Notes: First a little history from Andrea M. Rotondo of CruiseCritic.com: “The aristocratic pleasure of afternoon tea naturally found its way into the first-class sections of the great ocean liners. As cruising replaced crossings in the 20th century, the ritual was retained as an example of the sort of tradition one might not have the time to keep up on land, but that could still be enjoyed aboard ship.”
While taking afternoon tea overlooking glacial waters is a certain luxury, we found the pace and style of the meal on Star Princess to be very different from a traditional tearoom on land. Crisp linens and servers in formal attire greet guests, who have begun gathering outside the dining room 15 minutes before it opens for tea service. Small parties are sat together communally, which actually was the highlight of this experience because we were paired with a lovely Australian family. As there are no coincidences (right?), it made perfect sense that the wife had once run her own tea business and was very well acquainted with traditional afternoon tea customs.
The main frustration in getting to know our new friends was the continuous parade of servers to our table throughout the meal. The Star Princess’ format for afternoon tea is very much like a Brazilian charrascaria, without the green/red table marker to signal to the servers when you have had your fill. From the moment you are sat, tea is poured and servers begin making the rounds with silver trays of sandwiches, scones, preserves and cream, and desserts, a few of which we would recommend. We love that Princess ships treat their guests to afternoon tea, and would have found it more enjoyable if they altered their service style to allow guests to converse at their leisure, offered a small variety of quality teas, and baked lighter, more airy scones and desserts.
Where: Skagway, AK Style: Garden Sunroom Tea Selection: Signature English Rose loose leaf black tea Teatimes: May-September; 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.