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While a time-honored British past-time, Manhattan institutions and new Brooklyn hotels have perfected the three-tiered scones, cream, and tea-sipping tradition.
Some places stick to the traditional savories, scones, sweets, and lots of tea set in a lavish, white table linen and live piano setting, some afternoon teas offer a New York twist (smoked salmon profiterole with everything bagel topping), whisky pairings, or delightful themed events. Either way, it's always decadent, and there's usually Champagne involved.
From hotel restaurants to hidden tea houses, settle in for a piping hot kettle and a decadent afternoon pick me up at New York's best afternoon teas. Now the only choice is... which tea will it be?
You know you're in for a treat when there's a certified "Tea Sommelier" on staff. We'd expect nothing less from the crystal-studded, five-star hotel who invented this $5,000 cocktail. Come to the Baccarat Hotel, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, for their themed menus inspired by palaces around the world; from Versailles and Windsor to Russia's Tsarskoye Selo. There's also a Holiday Tea featuring menu items like Spice Chocolate Cherry Buche de Noel and Le Petit Prince Children's Tea for the little ones.
The Pembroke Room at The Lowell, Upper East Side
Tea is served in vintage 1950s teapots crafted by the royal family's jewelers at this UES favorite. You've got three different afternoon tea menus to pick from at The Lowell, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. The "Gentleman's Tea" for those without a sweet-tooth, it pairs uncommon teas with whiskeys or ports, or there's the "Imperial Tea" which includes things like caviar and lobster salad in addition to the traditional scone-and-cream menu.
Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel, Central Park South
There is no more historic tea service in New York than the one at the Plaza’s Palm Court, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property. It’s truly an iconic place (famous children’s book character Eloise lived in the hotel; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby passed through), and the afternoon tea is appropriately grand. Tea is served daily between 12pm and 4:30pm.
It was only a matter of time until high tea made it across the river. And Seven Seeds, the new Eastern Mediterranean Restaurant inside The Williamsburg Hotel delivers. Come here on weekend afternoons for tea accompanied by a live jazz band. Beyond interesting tea options like "Smokey Earl Grey" and "Matcha Iri Genmaicha" the restaurant also serves tea-infused cocktails.
queensyard, Hudson Yards
If you find yourself in the depth of Hudson Yards, wander up to the fourth floor and you'll find UK export, queensyard, a British-American restaurant with prime views of the Vessel. Here they serve "British classics with an American twist", think coronation sandwich and a smoked salmon profiterole. There's also lovely little details, like a wax-sealed personalized menu and sugar in the shape of teapots.
Janam Tea House, Lower East Side
Wander upstairs through a burger joint and you'll make your way to Janam Tea House. The hidden oasis features teas exclusively from single-estates in India (they also host classes and trips about Indian tea). Tea is serveed Wednesday through Sunday between 12m to 5pm, after 6pm it turns into Garfunkel's Speakeasy.
Bergdorf Goodman, Fifth Avenue
What's more decadent than a leisurely afternoon spent shopping around Bergdorfs and then taking a break with a spot of tea and sammies? Make your way up to the seventh floor for three-tiered afternoon tea at BG Restaurant with sweeping views of Central Park. For added luxury, request a window table with the big, plush cocoon “whisper chairs.”
The Gallery at The Carlyle, Upper East Side
An Upper East Side landmark since 1930, The Gallery at The Carlyle—an American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts property—is a lavish retreat inspired by the sultan's dining room at the Topkapi Palace in Turkey. Afternoon tea is served from 3 to 5:30 p.m. daily.
Alice's Tea Cup, Upper West Side & Upper East Side
If you're serious about scones and tea but prefer it in a low-key, whimsical setting, make for Alice's cute cafe. There's different scone varieties each day, which includes vegan scone options too. Pick between "The Nibble", "The Madhatter", and "The Jabberwocky" menus, the latter comes with unlimited scones, tea, and sandwiches.
The Pierre, Upper East Side
Afternoon tea is a lavish affair with handcrafted cocktails and elevated light bites at The Pierre. Served in Two E Bar & Lounge, originally the Gentleman’s Library when the hotel opened in 1930, diners can pick between traditional, royal, and unlimited royal tea service (with an hour and a half limit on the Taittinger Brut Champagne), or a Tiffin & Tea service featuring India-inspired bites, a nod to the Taj Hotels. Tip: order the house "Pierre Blend", a custom blend of fine black tea spiced with green cardamom, pink peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, ginger & orange zest.
The Russian Tea Room, Midtown
Pick from the regular "Afternoon Tea", "Royal Afternoon Tea", or "Children's Afternoon Tea" at this decadent mainstay in Midtown which offers afternoon tea daily from 2pm to 4:30pm. You'll find savories like Croque Monsieur with turkey and truffle, caviar and scones, cupcakes, and petit fours.
The Orangery at The Whitby, Midtown
Afternoon Tea is served all day long at this Kit Kemp hotel. Both gluten free and vegetarian options are available with delicious bites like pumpkin chai cheesecake and walnut brownie.
The St. Regis New York, Fifth Avenue
The St. Regis New York, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is housed in a 1904 Beaux Arts landmark building steeped in both art and history. Not only was the Red Snapper (or, Bloody Mary) invented here, but Salvador Dali was a frequent patron (along with his wife, Gala, and pet ocelot, Babou); guests can follow in his footsteps by ordering the Salvador Dali afternoon tea, inspired by the artist's famous works like "The Persistence of Memory". There are two Dali options, The Dali Tea, $85 per person; and Dali Historic Tea, $550 for two—you'll also get to take home your choice of original keys, door knobs, plates, tea cups and photographs.
Bluebird Cafe, Columbus Circle
Traditional afternoon tea comes with glorious Central Park views (if you ask for the right table) at this colorful British import inside Colombus Circle's The Time Warner mall. Served daily between 1:30pm and 4:30pm, the winter afternoon tea menu features the usual favorites like coronation chicken, and sweets like Egg nog and peppermint cream puff.