Tap into the graceful tradition of tea. Here are five special places to consider:
Alice’s Tea Cup. NY, NY. One family’s affection for sharing stories over a steaming cup of fragrant, fresh tea spawned these three neighborhood refuges for tea lovers. Children of all ages are happily perplexed by the nearly overwhelming list of specialty teas as well as temptations like fresh-baked blueberry, raspberry and pumpkin scones,
clotted cream and other mouthwatering creations. Stop by for breakfast, lunch or tea anytime and steep yourselves in an eclectic ambience, where comfortable antiques, sparkly fairy wings and hints of Alice’s Wonderland provide a whimsical haven. The charming hideaways are a favorite destination for Suri Cruise and her mom Katie Holmes. Pick up a copy of the restaurant’s cook book to create your own magic at home. Contact: 212-734-4TEA; www.AlicesTeaCup.
Legacy House Imports Tea Room. Madison, Wisconsin. Laura Schaefer is the author of the children's novel TheTeashop Girls ( Simon & Schuster ) the story of a 13 year old girl determined to keep her Grandmother’s tea shop in business. During a recent book event, Schaefer was impressed by the way the owners of this tea and gift shop provided ambience-inducing hats for young readers to wear during a traditional English afternoon tea service. Guests can browse for unique gift items and then sample a global tea selection, finger sandwiches, light lunch fare and tasty scones. Contact: 608-663-1340; www.legacyhouseimports.com ; www.teashopgirls.com.
Two For Tea. Portland, OR. Check in with master tea maker Steven Smith, to understand the origins of this aromatic beverage. As the founder of Stash Tea and Tazo Tea, Smith shares his expertise by providing tours of his small facility, where visitors can see his new line of high-quality, small batch tea in production, blend a case of their own, or simply sample in the tasting room. Later, head to Portland’s Chinatown to discover the Lan Su Chinese Garden and Tea House, the result of a friendship project between this city and Suzhou, China. Choose from dozens of Chinese teas and then relax in the second story tea room where you’ll have a window onto the authentically built Ming Dynasty style garden below. Contact: www.smithtea.com; www.taooftea.com ; www.portlandchinesegarden.org
Laura’s Tea Room. Ridgeway, SC. Kids will have fun choosing a special hat to wear while sipping specially brewed teas and relaxing with friends and family in a vintage-hued environment. Every week, Tuesday through Friday, youngsters five and older are invited for Wee Tea, a two-course tea service and an opportunity to nibble on chocolate chip scones, tasty sandwiches, sherbet and other taste treats. Take time to admire the work provided by local artists. Reservations required for Wee Tea. Contact: (803) 337-8594; www.LaurasTeaRoom.com.
The Brown Palace Hotel. Denver, Co. For more than 30 years families have gathered in the venerable hotel’s atrium to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and each other’s company. Sip specially brewed teas amidst a bit of western history, as harp or piano music provides a peaceful backdrop. Relish well-crafted tea sandwiches, pastries and Devonshire cream imported directly from England for your culinary pleasure. Reservations recommended. Contact: 303-297-3111; www.BrownPalace.com