While sometimes perceived as stuffy or passé, tea time isn’t just for your mother or grandmother to eat petit fours and gossip with her mahjong partners. According Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at L’Espalier, getting dolled up, eating tiny sandwiches and drinking tea is actually good for you. Or, at least, the tea part is.
“Tea itself has a wide range of well documented health benefits from the antioxidant polyphenols to its abilities to boost our mood, relax and relieve stress,” says Gold. And, we know you could use some stress relief! “Unlike the grab-and-go world of coffee, tea rituals are most often about taking that extra time to enjoy the experience. The very act of carving some time out of your busy day to steep and then sit and relax over a cup of tea is likely to have a significant emotional benefit.”
Sign us up! Here’s where you can get your afternoon tea on in downtown Boston.
Afternoon Tea at the Boston Public Library
If you’d rather have your tea amidst the comforting scent of old books (and who can blame you) head to the Boston Public Library for its weekend tea service. An updated menu allows you to choose a soup or a salad, and for your tower of goodies a selection of savory tea sandwiches, scones and petit fours. There is an extensive list of brewed teas, as well as chai and matcha lattes. On a bi-weekly basis the library holds a special Steeped in Style tea service on Tuesday afternoons, during which tea drinkers can watch an informal fashion show.
Boston Public Library
11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. seatings on Saturday, 1 p.m.–3 p.m. seatings on Sunday
$45 per adult, $15 per child 12 and under
700 Boylston St., Boston
Limited street parking, Copley T stop
Silver Service Afternoon Tea at the Taj
For the royal treatment, head to the Taj Boston for their luxurious silver service afternoon tea. Hosted in the elegant opulence of the hotel’s French and Adams Rooms, tea is also accompanied by live music. The menu boasts petit fours and canapés, savory finger sandwiches and scones. You can also choose a cheese tasting option if you’re not into baked goods. For children, the Taj offers a special menu featuring peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and a pot of hot chocolate. The wide tea selection includes a signature black blend made by the Taj and a number of tea cocktails and sparkling wines.
The Taj Boston
12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. seatings on Saturday and Sunday
$32-$58 per person
15 Arlington St., Boston
Limited street parking, Arlington T stop
Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood at the Langham
Transport yourself to London with the traditional English tea service at the Langham, Boston. The ritual was born at the flagship Langham hotel in London in 1865 and has been preserved at their locations around the globe ever since. The menu includes tea sandwiches featuring savory flavors like house-smoked, maple-cured salmon parfait and sage-roasted turkey with apple butter. Satiate your sweet tooth with cream scones, including Devonshire clotted cream, and seasonal pastries like a gingerbread truffle pop for winter. A children’s menu includes similar flavors (plus ham and cheese) in smaller portions. The tea selection boasts proprietary Langham teas, and you can order champagne to polish the outing off with a sparkle.
The Langham, Boston
2–7 p.m. daily
$36-$48 per person
250 Franklin St., Boston
Limited street parking, State Street T stop
Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental
Enjoy a respite from the cold with the Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental, hosted in the lobby lounge next to a crackling fireplace. A prix-fixe menu includes a glass of champagne and choice of house-blended teas. Tea sandwiches with Jonah crab and herb cream cheese are served alongside orange-poppy scones and pastries like red berry tartlets and a gingerbread French macaron. You can also order more substantial meals a la carte, and the kids, if they’re with you, will go crazy for a chocolate candy cane cupcake, sugar cookies and hot cocoa. A mocktail menu offers the fizz of a bubbly without the buzz.
2–5 p.m. daily
$78 per adult, $42 per child
775 Boylston St., Boston
Limited street parking, Hynes Convention Center T stop