When I was younger, I was a bit of an Anglophile. To appease all my British leanings, my parents took me to high tea and afternoon tea a few times. It was a fun thing to do as a family, but I find it equally as fun now that I'm all grown up. So if you ever get the urge for a good cuppa Earl Grey you can sip with your pinky out, here are some spots to visit.
There are some differences between high tea and afternoon tea, most likely unbeknownst to us Americans. Afternoon tea is what we think of as the quintessential British tea: little sandwiches, scones and tea, generally eaten between the hours of 3 pm and 5 pm. High tea was traditionally a servant's meal served between 5 pm and 7 pm, so called because it was served on a higher table than afternoon tea. It frequently involved sandwiches and sweet treats, but also cold meats, as a larger meal. These days, most people (at least in Baltimore) don't distinguish between the two, but if you're a real stickler for the details, now you know!
Gertrude's in the Baltimore Museum of Art has high tea on the first weekend of each month, Thursday through Saturday. Reservations are required if you want to enjoy their menu of sweet (pistachio macaroons) and savory (turkey mango sandwiches) options. It's $30 for adults and $20 for children.
A trip to Brighton's In the Harbor Court hotel would be the fanciest of fancy outings. Afternoon tea is served there Friday and Saturday afternoons in "an age-old tradition." You can enjoy tea sandwiches, pastries, fruit, and (of course) tea while enjoying beautiful view of the harbor and impeccable service.
Petticoat Tea room in Fells Point used to be a great place to go for tea (when it wasn't mobbed with little girl birthday parties or bridal shower lunches) but it sadly closed a few years ago. Bertha's in Fells, however, serves tea in the Scottish style, dubbed ""Mrs. McKinnon's Scottish Afternoon Tea." Served on Monday through Saturday afternoons by reservations only, this tea serves up fresh-baked scones, tarts, savory items and assorted desserts. I imagine it would be fun and kind of trippy to drink tea in Bertha's decidedly-divey surroundings.
If you're willing to take a drive, Tea On The Tiber Victorian Tea Room in Ellicott City really knows how to serve a tea. The atmosphere is quaint and elegant, the service is top-notch and the specialty is traditional English tea, as close as it can get to replicating the mores of a bygone era. Tea on the Tiber has two teas daily, including a more formal afternoon tea and a less formal "Shopper's Cream Tea." Afternoon tea is a three course meal, while the cream tea is a bit more casual and designed as a heavy snack, with pastries and clotted cream. Reservations are required for both. Tea on the Tiber also occasionally offers special events teas (like a recent Valentine's Day event) and they also have a lovely gift shop. If you go, make a day of it and see historic Ellicott City, too!
Do you know of any other restaurants or cafes serving traditional English tea? We've love to add them to our list.
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