Friday, August 20, 2010

Traveling to China

looking forward to learning about Chinese tea traditions and having some delicious tea!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Heathman Hotel

Portland, Oregon

Best Homemade Marshmallow Pastry and Most Beautiful Tea Room Furnishings

Entrance: When you approach The Heathman, the first thing you will notice is the festive doorman, decked out in full costume including a delightful hat.  The main hotel entrance has beautiful marble floors and leads you into the Tea Court.

Greeting: We walked up to the hostess stand and were offered a selection of seating areas for our tea.

Service: Our server was very polite.  He reviewed the tea selections with us and was prompt in bringing out our tea and treats.

Presentation: The food was presented beautifully on a tiered server.

Table decor: The tea service was classic white porcelain with a silver tea strainer and resting dish.

Aesthetics: The Tea Court, with its wood paneled walls, fireplace and cozy seating, exudes the feeling of an intimate library or study. We love the eclectic furniture with a mix of beautiful fabrics, and the large chandelier with a velvet cord cover descending from the floor above.

Tea Quality: The tea was good and our server promptly refilled the water in our tea pots.

Tea Variety: The Heathman offers 12 tea varieties: 2 black teas, 2 green teas, 2 herbal teas, and 6 scented teas.

Food Quality: We loved the food! The chicken salad was our favorite sandwich although they were all delicious.  Our favorite dessert was the homemade marshmallows - we would have eaten the entire pan!

Food Quantity: There were 5 sandwiches (smoked salmon, chicken salad, goat cheese, cucumber and deviled egg), a scone, banana bread, and 5 desserts.

Food Variety: There was a great variety!  So much food!  We took home 4 of the 5 desserts - it was impossible not to immediately devour the marshmallow treat.

Music: We didn't notice any music playing.

Lighting: The beautiful chandelier in the center of the room along with dim recessed lighting created a lovely setting for tea.

Bathroom: The bathroom had a different feel than the Tea Court. It was modern with tiled walls and a really unique rain drop chandelier that looked like a shower head.  We also liked the fancy cloth-like, disposable hand towels.

Take Aways: A lovely tea menu and lots of desserts!  There is also a cute little chocolate shop attached to The Heathman if you didn't get your fill of sweets at tea :)

Price: Average to High

Of Note: The Heathman offers a special holiday tea from November 28 to January 4 and a darling Peter Rabbit tea for Little Sippers :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Palmer House Hilton

Chicago, Illinois

Most Beautiful Lobby Ceiling

As we love every venue that appreciates afternoon tea as much as we do, we feel it is necessary to preface this review by saying that The Palmer House has immense afternoon tea potential. We happened to enjoy their afternoon tea the day after Thanksgiving when the hotel was bursting with guests and activity.

Entrance: The entrace to The Palmer House is very grand with a lovely stairway and chandelier.

Greeting: We were not exactly sure where the host for the afternoon tea was situated. We went to the desk at the Lockwood restaurant and were seated in the lobby area.

Service: Our waiter was very nice, but unfortunately he was very busy with the holiday crowd. He was unavailable to refill our teapots and did not offer us cream or sugar for our tea.

Presentation: The presentation was standard. The sandwiches, desserts and scones were served on a tiered platter and the teapots and cups were classic white.

Table decor: The table setting was nice. We liked the cute embroidered napkins.

Aesthetics: The lobby has the most beautiful, ornate ceiling - we loved all the historic architectural details. Unfortunately the lobby where the afternoon tea is served is also the walkway and seating area for all hotel guests - it was very busy and we were not able to enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea. We had to move our chairs close together in order to hear one another and it was still difficult to have a comfortable conversation.

Tea quality: The Jasmine Blossom white tea was very light and good.

Tea variety: There were not too many teas to select from - only 8 varieties.

Food quality: We liked all the sandwiches with the exception of the salmon - although our mother liked the salmon. The desserts were more visually appealing than tasty.

Food quantity: There were four sandwiches - salmon, cucumber, chicken salad and ham, 4 desserts, 2 scones, 2 breads and 2 cookies.

Food variety: The variety of food was good.

Music: The music was seasonal, Christmas music, but was played rather loud which didn't create a pleasant atmosphere for the afternoon tea.

Lighting: The lighting was nice. We particularly liked the wall sconces.

Bathroom: The bathroom was pretty with an ornate full length mirror. There were nice paper hand towels.

Take aways: We did our best to find a take away here - even went so far as to ask for a piece of paper and in return were given a blank strip of cash register paper :( Alas, we left empty handed.

Price: High - most expensive afternoon tea thus far - that is until we fullfill our life long dream of having tea at Harrods in London :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Four Seasons Hotel

Chicago, Illinois

Most Unique Teapot

Entrance: The entrance to the Four Seasons in Chicago is beautiful and spacious. We loved the chandeliers and the fountain on the partial wall separating the tea room from the entrance.

Greeting: We were greeted by Vern (whose name delighted us as our late-grandfather's name was Vern). He was polite, took our coats, and was friendly and professional.

Service: Our waitress was friendly, explained the tea, and gave us an overview of the afternoon tea service.

Presentation: The most interesting part of the tea presentation was our sideways teapots brought to our table on silver platters. We noticed these sideways teapots on the tables around us and were puzzling over why they were sitting on their sides. Our waitress explained that the teapot sits upright while the tea is brewing and is turned on its side after the tea is brewed to keep the tea leaves separate from the tea in the pot - how clever! The first course of sandwiches was served to us by our waitress and the dessert and scone courses were served on tiered platters at our table.

Table decor: The table decor was very nice. We especially liked the cute, small fork with lemon that accompanied our tea, the tea strainer on the doily, the darling scone condiments' server, and we always love a little dish of sugar cubes.

Aesthetics: The overall aesthetic was very relaxing. The teapot was pleasing. The setting was intimate and cozy. We were seated by the fireplace, which we very much enjoyed. We were not seated too close to other tables so we could comfortably converse and enjoy a leisurely tea.

Tea quality: The tea was good quality. We had Ginger Twist and Wild Blackberries tea - both were very good.

Tea variety: There was a nice selection of teas - 8 black teas, 1 oolong tea, 2 green teas, 5 herbal and fruit infusion teas and 1 white tea.

Food quality: The food was delicious! Our favorite sandwich was the gorgonzola and watercress, and the pumpkin dessert was the perfect, festive seasonal touch.

Food quantity: The afternoon tea included 5 sandwiches, 2 scones, 2 cookies, 5 bread slices and 3 desserts.

Food variety: We enjoyed the great variety of sandwiches; we liked all of them except the chicken curry - although other tables around us had seconds of that sandwich. The dessert selection was very good as well.

Music: There was soft background music playing, but no live music.

Lighting: We were seated by the fireplace and enjoyed the warm glow of the fire while we sipped our tea. The room was decorated with beautiful chandeliers and the overhead lighting was dimmed after sunset.

Bathroom: The bathroom had a lovely seating area. There were individual stalls with fancy doors. The paper hand towels were nice as well.

Take aways: We can nearly always find a cute take away :) The doily under the tea strainer was an adorable find and there was Four Seasons hotel stationery paper located by the telephone in the hall leading to the bathrooms.

Extras: Some tables were offered additional sandwiches.

Price: Average to High

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Ritz-Carlton Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

Most Charming Tea Delicacies and Gracious Service

Entrance: The entrance to The Ritz-Carlton's afternoon tea room, The Greenhouse, is spacious and bright with a grand fountain in the center. One wall is all windows as is a portion of the ceiling creating a very open, inviting space.

Greeting: Upon entering, we walked up to the host stand and were greeted and shown to our table.

Service: Our server was very friendly and kindly went over their afternoon tea service and tea options.

Presentation: The food presentation was one of our favorite parts of the tea. The food was so delightful you almost hated to eat anything! We loved the fruit dessert served on the cute, white spoons.

Table decor: The table decor was pretty and simple. Lovely white tea pots and tiered serving trays.

Aesthetics: The tea room was clean, bright and open. The wall of windows and partial ceiling of windows gives The Greenhouse its names and creates a lovely, space with lots of natural light. When entering The Grenhouse, the gleaming floors and large fountain give the space a crisp and polished look.

Tea quality: The tea was good and our server kept our tea warm for the entire visit!

Tea variety: The Ritz-Carlton offered the standard teas we love, with a variety of black, green and white teas.

Food quality: The food was delicious and tasted as good as it looked, which is saying a lot because the food presentation was so darling! We particularly enjoyed the scones, Devonshire cream and lemon curd as well as the dainty desserts with fresh fruit.

Food quantity: There was an abundence of food served with our afternoon tea. Four sandwiches, four desserts, and a variety of bread and scones.

Food variety: The variety of food was perfect. Each treat was lovely to look at and enjoyable to eat. We took three varieties of bread home as we were too full to eat everything.

Music: We arrived for tea around 3:30pm and were still enjoying tea at 5pm when the pianist arrived. We loved the beautiful piano music that accompanied the latter part of our tea. We recommend bringing in the pianist for the entire afternoon tea - the music was lovely and added to the overall ambience of the tea.

Lighting: The large windows offered lots of natural light which created a lovely tea experience.

Bathroom: The bathroom was beautiful. We particularly loved the decadent plush, white hand towels which were disposed of in lovely large wicker laundry baskets in the bathroom.

Take aways: In all likelihood a good portion of your tea delicacies! Three varieties of bread accompanied us home.

Extras: The beautiful piano music at 5pm.

Price: Average