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Posted at 4:52 PM ET, 02/ 2/2007

Tea Off

By Erin

Those who thirstily dug into Got Plans? yesterday will recall a reader who wrote in seeking a destination for high tea. Astute readers pointed that afternoon tea is the practice with which most are familiar: tea sandwiches, scones, pastries and a pot of tea served in the midafternoon. High tea is a different affair, an event that replaces dinner and afternoon tea. It sounds like something fancy, but really it's associated with the working class as a meal of meats, cheese, liquor and tea provided to men after a day out in the fields. The name just means that it's meant to be served as at a high table, rather than any shorter lounging tables. Here are some places where you can lift your pinky and sip.

The regal and serene Mansion on O Street offers two options for tea every Sunday. For $20 per person, guests can sip unlimited tea, coffee, juice and champagne. A buffet spread includes pastries and other desserts, cheese and a vegetable basket. For $65 per person, guests are served the above options as well as scones and tea sandwiches. Reservations, accepted for 2:30-4 p.m. seatings, must be made through the Mansion Web site.

The Tea Cellar at the sleek Park Hyatt offers a dazzling number of teas with special attention to water temperature and steeping time. Tea connoisseurs can sip teas from all around the world, including a rare Chinese tea from 1985 that costs $300. From 2:30-4:30 p.m. weekdays, the cellar hosts tea time with an array of pastries and teas available for $12 total. Reservations can be secured by calling 202-789-1234.

For traditional afternoon tea downtown, the Willard InterContinental serves a lavish spread in the Peacock Alley. Finger sandwiches include cucumber, watercress and cream cheese, smoked salmon and an egg salad. The tea service includes scones with jam and cream and a pastry spread of cakes and tarts. Teas are provided by Mighty Leaf Tea Company. The service is offered every day from 2:30-5 p.m. and costs $33.50 or $43.50 with a glass of champagne. Reservations can be made at 202-637-7350.

Finally, Royal Tea Room in La Plata specializes in afternoon and high tea. In a former rectory, the restaurant specializes in delicate sandwiches and treats that make tea time special. The dozens of different teas are wheeled around on trolleys. Royal Tea ($21.95), the high tea offering, serves soup and salad in addition to scones, sweets and little nibbles. Reservations can be made by calling 301-392-1111.

There's certainly no shortage of places to grab hot tea. When the yearning for a proper tea strikes, where do you go?


By Erin  | February 2, 2007; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Re. Mansion on O Street - is that right? an extra $45/person just to get scones and tea sandwiches on top of all that other unlimited stuff? What am I missing here?

Posted by: Reine de Saba | February 4, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I wondered the same thing. With the more expensive selection, you pay for a few more options and the service. Everything is made to order and served by a waiter, as opposed to the less expensive get-it-yourself buffet spread.

Posted by: Erin | February 5, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Mayflower Hotel offers tea on Sundays - with the requisite scones and tea sandwiches. The teas are really fresh and quite inventive in flavor.

Posted by: Jen | February 5, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Strathmore has a nice tea as well, but I believe it's only on weekday afternoons.

Posted by: Montgomery | February 6, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Watergate Hotel has nice afternoonn tea. National Cathedral used to serve it as well. My favorite one is at the Hillwood Museum - very delicious and inexpensive(but you have to pay museum admission to get on the grounds).

Posted by: Teas | February 6, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown has a very nice tea, also!

Posted by: Georgetown | February 6, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I've had high tea at both the Mayflower and the Ritz-Carlton (Tysons and Pentagon City). Both lovely events and highly recommended.

Posted by: J | February 6, 2007 3:42 PM | Report abuse

The Jefferson has a nice tea on the weekends as well - cute little booths. The price wasn't bad either - somewhere in the high $20's/low $30's, I think. We got our own pots of tea, a plate of small sandwiches, a basket of scones, and a dessert plate as well.

Posted by: W | February 8, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Hillwood Tea and tour of the house make for the ultimate day out with the ladies. Send dad, boyfriend, husband or sons to the hockey/bball/baseball game and retreat to Hillwood. I've done it with many relatives and they always say it was their favorite part of a DC visit.

Posted by: pinky out | February 13, 2007 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I think on Wednesday afternoons, the top floor of the National Cathedral has tea. Great view.

Posted by: MelissaMcCart | February 19, 2007 6:59 PM | Report abuse

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