tea

Warming up with hot drinks in wintry Paris

Warming up with hot drinks in wintry Paris

We were happy to go to the Paris sales in January and early February because the climate there is notably milder than our home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But winter is still winter, and cold rain and mist can be even more chilling than drifting snow. While tramping all over the city (the transit strike had slowed the Metro), it was nice to duck in for something warm. True, there was an enterprising vendor near the north side of Notre-Dame who sold cups of vin chaud to go. But drinking mulled wine from a plastic cup on a crowded sidewalk turned out not to be quite as warming as we hoped. So we explored a few salons de thé, the undisputed queen of hot chocolate shops,...Read More
Tea with a Scottish burr in the Balmoral’s Palm Court

Tea with a Scottish burr in the Balmoral’s Palm Court

Any visitor who relishes the Scottish baronial architectural style of Edinburgh's central core has imagined a night at The Balmoral Hotel (1 Princes Street, Edinburgh; + 44 (0)131-556-2414; roccofortehotels.com/the-balmoral-hotel). The grand railway hotel opened in 1902 to complement Waverly Station and remains the most storied hotel in the city. With rooms starting around $325 and quickly rising, its elegant comforts are out of reach for many. But the hotel offers one sweet, not quite so dear indulgence. Book afternoon tea in the Palm Court, one of the classiest, most elegant rooms in Edinburgh. You can take in the surroundings as you linger over a tiered tray of sandwiches and savories, hot scones with clotted cream and preserves, a seasonal selection of pastries, and a choice...Read More
Kensington afternoon tea shows sweet wit

Kensington afternoon tea shows sweet wit

Years ago on a visit to London, David and I interviewed Benny Hill for a feature in an American magazine. We were surprised when his publicist suggested that we meet the comedian known for his bawdy humor for afternoon tea. It seemed a bit, shall I say, refined. But, in person, Hill turned out to be a gentle man, perhaps even a bit shy. And the ritual of the tea service made for a very relaxed couple of hours. The experience sold me on the afternoon tea tradition. Now I make a point of sampling tea in a different spot whenever I'm in London. On my last visit, I spent a lovely afternoon with a couple of friends in the Kensington (at top). It's one...Read More
Afternoon tea gets royal treatment at Prince of Wales

Afternoon tea gets royal treatment at Prince of Wales

We got a quick refresher in British royal protocol when we stayed at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara on the Lake (www.vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales). The stately brick property had been entertaining guests under a couple of different names for more than 30 years before the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) paid a visit in 1901. Thrilled with the royal presence, the property changed its name to the Prince of Wales. We finally figured out that the Duke assumed that title when he became heir apparent to the throne. His father was King Edward VII, the monarch best known from PBS as an unrepentant playboy who took socialite actress Lily Langtry as his mistress. This time the name stuck...Read More

Enjoy a millionaire’s tea at a pauper’s price

Aptly named Good Food & Wine is a gourmet treat shop and casual cafe that serves afternoon tea all day long. It's tucked into the Queen's Arcade shopping center between Fountain Street and Donegall Place, Not only is it steps from Belfast City Hall and the Linen Hall Library, it's also handy to the central shopping district. Mind you, afternoon tea here is not the lifted pinkie, fine porcelain, hushed ambiance formal tea. For that experience, visit the nearby Merchant Hotel (16 Skipper St., 28 9023 4888, themerchanthotel.com), the poshest address in the city. But at £7.50 per person, it's hard to beat Good Food & Wine for a tiered tray of finger sandwiches and sweet treats and a pot of brewed looseleaf Belfast Blend....Read More