Steep Dreams: Boston Tea Rooms

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Posted July 24, 2013 by Kara Weymouth in Downtown Boston
Boston Tea Silver Service

Blame it on marathons of Downton Abbey or an ever-growing obsession with the Duchess of Cambridge, but Americans have finally rediscovered the joys of afternoon tea, clotted cream, and tiny sandwiches. Boston, of course, has a long history of being a tea-loving city. Some may even argue that we started a revolution over it! Don’t worry—the latest crop of Boston tea rooms, with their sleek, luxurious spaces and sophisticated, modern menus, is sure to erase all memories of colonial tea parties.

The Bristol Lounge at The Four Seasons offers afternoon tea on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. Sip your choice of 15 teas while taking in the view of the Public Garden through the lounge’s stunning floor-to-ceiling windows. This luxurious but child-friendly Boston tea room also offers hot chocolate and Georgetown cupcakes for its smallest guests.

If tea is more of an adult affair, the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille at Boston Harbor Hotel (daily from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.) offers a traditional tea menu and inspired tea cocktails. Try their “Old Fashioned Tea” made with freshly brewed Earl Grey, bourbon, and Angostura bitters or warm-weather favorite “Summer Time Tea” for an upscale afternoon.

Boston Tea & Finger Sandwiches

Traditional tea sandwiches and scones. Photo credit: morgueFile.

The Langham Hotel has its own long relationship with tea. Legend has it that the very first afternoon tea occurred at the Langham London in 1865. They honor this tradition with “Tiffin at the Langham” in their lobby lounge, The Reserve, every afternoon from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. This extensive menu includes everything from cream scones with Devonshire clotted cream to Maine lobster salad, as well as the four house blended teas and a large selection from Harney & Sons. Out of all the Boston tea rooms, The Reserve is the best for a discerning palate.

Of course, if you want your tea with a side of history, follow the stream of tourists down to Griffin’s Wharf near the site of that infamous tea party. Skip over the historical tour and head for Abigail’s Tea Room for a whimsical cup and teapot cookies served up by waitresses in her best colonial garb. After all, Boston’s tea tradition is just as illustrious as that of our neighbors across the pond.

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