Destination Tea: La Dolce

Where:  Aiken, SC
Style:  Cheerful Cafe
Tea Selection:  2 proposed loose leaf teas from list of 100+
Teatimes:  Tuesday to Saturday 12:30-2:30
Reservations:  48-hour notice *ages 10 and up
Contact:  803-335-1440
Cost: 
$28 High Tea; $25 Afternoon Tea; $20 Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony; $7.50 Cream Tea
Destination Tea Tips:  Consider paying the add-on fee to have owner Lady Kelly MacVean hostess your tea. Certified by both the U.K. Tea Council and the American Tea Master Association as a “Tea Master,” Lady Kelly can give you a thorough introduction to afternoon tea. Even if you are an afternoon tea connoisseur, you may still learn something new from Lady Kelly – we did!Front of La Dolce in Aiken, SC

Destination Tea Notes:  Every now and again we discover a tearoom the likes of La Dolce, where a professional, creative eye attends to every detail in cultivating an afternoon tea service that is authentic and unique all at once. Not only do we love Lady Kelly MacVean’s taste in hats, we also appreciate her love of tradition and history. She’s not play-acting when she calls herself a “lady,” because she is one, having purchased property in the Scottish Highlands during her time living abroad. She sets the tea table with antiques and vintage teaware. As a dual-certified tea master, she recommends tea pairings and hosts tea tastings to help others develop a love of tea. And she wisely teams up with her daughter, Chef Kirstie Wohlfeil, who whips up a scrumptious, made-from-scratch afternoon tea menu.

Table at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
As we take our seats at our sunlit table, we happily explore the china patterns at each of our places, both lovely. We remark at discovering some teaware at the far end of our table that we don’t usually encounter at afternoon tea (more on this fun surprise later).
Table set for tea at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
Admiring my place setting, see the antique cake fork?

Tea Service

Tea is served at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
Lady Kelly recommends an orange blossom oolong to pair with the savory course. She brings a teapot cozy to keep the large pot of tea warm, and asks us to leave the cozy on the side to signal when we would like a second steep. We like this idea, and find that one pot is more than adequate for our party of two.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Spreads at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
Clotted cream, lemon curd and jam ready to be served with these antique teaspoons
Scones at La Dolce Aiken, SC
Wow! We love our blueberry scone. Because it looks a bit more like a cake, we are surprised to find it breaks apart more like a biscuit (the consistency we seek). It appears that La Dolce bakes extra large scones and quarters them for the tea curate – works for us!
Tea curate tea tray at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
Friends, these are some of the best traditional tea sandwiches we have had yet. Whatever herbs and seasonings La Dolce uses instantly gets our attention – delicious! On home-baked breads, La Dolce serves chicken salad in garlic parmesan cups, egg salad on whole wheat and cucumber on oatmeal — thinly sliced — thank you very much. P.S. It may be customary to cut off crusts, but we are secretly pleased to see them left on (waste not, want not).
Dessert cake stand at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
Firstly, how wonderful is this aqua blue glass cake stand? Dessert includes mini cheesecakes, chocolate cream puffs (our favorite) and strawberry and passionfruit macarons. While macarons typically have a crisp exterior and softer interior, these were more like merengues throughout. Our family macaron-lover enjoyed them all the same, especially happy about the unique passionfruit flavor. Lady Kelly brings out a Belgian chocolate rooibos to pair with the course. It’s a clever choice to couple rich desserts with a dessert-flavored, yet lighter, caffeine-free herbal brew.
Lady Kelly MacVean gong fu tea ceremony
Just when we think our adventure is coming to its finish, Lady Kelly surprises us with a preview of La Dolce’s Gongfu Cha Chinese Tea Ceremony. We so much appreciate her taking the time to introduce us to this custom, and how encouraging she is of us as we attempt to identify the notes of our teas (a white pu-erh and a Keemun). 
Hats for sale at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
After admiring Lady Kelly’s fabulous tea hat, how can you not be tempted to purchase one of your very own? La Dolce sells one-of-a-kind hats in the $60- $150 range that would be a wonderful gift to yourself or your favorite tea sister. I had to see how I looked in the fuschia polka dot beauty.
Tea gifts at La Dolce in Aiken, SC
We thank Lady Kelly for gifting us our own tea tasting sets with aroma cups, so that we can practice what we learned at home. These and other tea accessories are available for purchase.
La Dolce Aiken SC goodbye
How should you drink your tea? The sign scrolls, “Sip by sip, not gulp by gulp.” As if La Dolce hasn’t spoiled us enough already, Lady Kelly gives us promotional gift bags as parting favors, to demonstrate how their bakery is partnering with a nearby spa to promote a day of self-pampering at their two businesses. Great concept, and wait, was that a chocolate coconut walnut cookie slipped into each bag? Whatever its flavor, it was divine. La Dolce’s baking has our seal of approval – scrumptious!