10 Relaxing Afternoon Teas in the United States

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10 Relaxing Afternoon Teas in the United States
On a day-to-day basis, we don’t really do afternoon tea in the United States—but we should. We’re more of a coffee-driven society, fueled by high caffeine and fast walking and flurries of emails. Afternoon tea is the antithesis of that. Sitting down with a pot of hot tea—be it oolong, English breakfast, or masala chai— and a plate or three of snacks is an ideal way to slow down time and savor the peacefulness that comes with it. Be it for indulgence, a step back in time, or a break from the madness, visit any of these 10 teahouses around the nation and you just might be a teatime convert.
By Alina Polishuk, AFAR Contributor
Photo of teahouse by Anne Peterson/Flickr
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    San Francisco: Japanese Tea Garden
    The tea and snacks served at the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park aren’t necessarily the tastiest offerings on this list, but what the venue lacks in culinary brilliance, it makes up for in beauty. While sipping hot green tea and nibbling house-made kuzumochi, visitors can admire the oldest Japanese garden in the country from their seats in the open-air tearoom. Ideally, visit during spring, when the tourists are few and the garden is awash in pastel pink cherry blossoms.

    Plan your trip: San Francisco
    Photo of teahouse by Anne Peterson/Flickr
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    Seattle: Remedy Teas
    Seattle might be the birthplace of the modern coffee shop, but the city is also home to plenty of places that serve afternoon tea (maybe due to those infamously gray skies). Remedy Teas is one such place. At this casual café, tea for two includes freshly baked goodies, tea sandwiches of the diners’ choosing, and a pot of tea to share. The only stressful part of the experience? Choosing a tea. Remedy offers a whopping 150 varieties, all organic, and many custom blended or sourced from overseas. Luckily, the staff are passionate and helpful and more than willing to share their suggestions.

    Book your trip: Seattle
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    Las Vegas: Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge
    In true Vegas style, the afternoon tea offerings at the Mandarin Oriental are nothing short of luxurious. Naturally, the drinks menu is extensive, and imbibers are invited to sip on less virginal cocktail creations like a bourbon and jasmine “tea-tini” or a peppermint tea-infused Old Cuban. The lounge itself overlooks much of the Strip, so visitors can relax with their plates of whimsical pastries and observe the chaos from a distance.

    Book your trip: Las Vegas
    Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
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    Houston—Kiran’s
    The afternoon tea served at Kiran’s might look fairly traditional to a passerby. And it is, for the most part—the dessert buffet includes the usual suspects: raspberry macarons, chocolate truffles, scones and cream. But woven into the tasting menu are exciting nods to chef Kiran’s Indian heritage, like the creamy masala chai that starts off the meal, the salmon that’s smoked in a tandoor oven, and the curry-spiced deviled eggs. The restaurant was temporarily closed at the time of writing, but its website states that it will reopen at a new location sometime this month.

    Book your trip: Houston
    Courtesy of Kiran's
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    Chicago—Vanille
    It’s hard to walk past Vanille without stopping in to just, um, take a look. The classic French bakery is overflowing with pastries and petit fours—so much so that deciding what to order is borderline stressful. Which is why the afternoon tea served at Vanille’s Lincoln Park location is the perfect solution. Over the course of 90 minutes, diners can try a little bit of everything, starting with Gruyère and ham on homemade croissants and ending with chocolate ganache cupcakes and the ever-popular Ambre bar—a crispy caramel streusel layered with mousse, madeleines, and hazelnut praline.

    Book your trip: Chicago
    Courtesy of Vanille/Facebook
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    Washington, D.C.—Ching Ching CHA
    Despite Ching Ching CHA’s close proximity to the honking Ubers and window shoppers of Georgetown’s M Street, the place is remarkably tranquil. High ceilings allow for lots of natural light, and low tables and floor cushions are a fine excuse to have a leisurely pot or two of Chinese tea. Although ordering à la carte is available, guests who opt for the Afternoon Tea can choose from a variety of dumplings, savory pastries, snacks, and sweets.

    Book your trip: Washington, D.C.
    Photo by @michelle_bkj
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    Boston—The Courtyard Restaurant
    It’s hard to imagine a more romantic place for tea than in the halls of the Boston Public Library. But that’s exactly what The Courtyard Restaurant offers, every day (except Sunday) from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As the setting suggests, the menu is classic and elegant, filled with items like mushroom-butter sandwiches and iced lemon bundt cakes. The library’s books are kept out of the restaurant (sticky fingers and historical artifacts don’t mix well), but eating sweets and sipping hot tea never felt so scholarly.

    Book your trip: Boston
    Courtesy of The Courtyard Restaurant
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    New York City—Bosie Tea Parlor
    Bosie Tea Parlor in the West Village is perfect for tea seekers who want all of the treats, but none of the frill. While the space feels more like the house of your cool aunt who collects cool things (and massive containers of tea leaves) rather than your grandma’s chintzy living room, the kitchen puts out a tasty and traditional tea menu. A basic tea for two offers a fair amount of food, including sandwiches of your choosing, tea cakes, macarons, and scones, along with a pot of tea.

    Book your trip: New York City
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    New York City—Cha An
    This dimly lit second-story teahouse is a lovely example of modern Japanese teatime. Cha An’s teas are brewed using specially filtered Kangen water, which is alkaline balanced and produces a richer, more healthful drink. The menu features funky à la carte treats like Red Bean Butter Toast and a Green Tea Parfait, but patrons can also choose a well-priced prix-fixe lunch that includes five dishes (although, oddly, tea comes at an additional charge). Cha An also hosts traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, which must be booked in advance.

    Book your trip: New York City
    Courtesy of @chaanteahouse
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    New Orleans—Salon by Sucré
    Ladies who are looking for an excuse to don a feathery Kate Middleton-esque hat that might otherwise be met with perplexed looks, Salon by Sucré is for you. This elegant spot in New Orleans’s French Quarter is a modern, refined take on a traditional high tea experience. The menu says it all: Leek and Gruyère tarts, cardamom flavored biscuits, and gem-hued macarons are just a few of the things that guests can sample while drinking a selection of internationally sourced teas.

    Plan your trip: New Orleans
    Courtesy of @salonbysucre
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