If the idea of afternoon tea conjures images of well starched, pearl-clad ladies sipping from dainty teacups with pinkies raised, you definitely need to stop watching so many Jane Austen movies. “Taking tea”in the modern age is anything but uptight or stuffy.
Think of afternoon tea as the classy and more charming sibling of the everyday café coffee date. Only at afternoon tea, not only does the ambiance get a serious upgrade, so does the quality of food and the conversation. It’s an experience that feels intimate somehow. Time spent with a friend or loved one lingering over afternoon tea sends the message, “You matter and your company is precious to me.”
So whether you take your children, your best friend, your family, or (gentlemen, make a note here) a romantic someone special, prepare yourself for a truly special indulgence. To help you put your best tea-foot forward, here are our picks for the best afternoon tea experiences in the Orlando area.
Best Overall Ambiance:The Alfond Inn
If you’re looking for an afternoon tea experience with downright adorable ambiance, look no further than The Alfond Inn in Winter Park. On particularly pretty days, you can take your tea outside in their breezy courtyard. Adorning their pristine lawn with Alice-in-Wonderland-esque bright red tables topped with quaint, mix-matched china, the effect is the epitome of enchanting. The piano player adds an additional touch of charm. The tea service itself is presented buffet-style with generous platters piled high with savory sandwiches and beautiful desserts. Meanwhile, formal tea servers stroll about with steaming teapots happy to refill your cup.
While parties of two will adore their experience, this is also a great idea for parties of four ormore (baby shower, anyone?) Hosted only on the second Sunday of each month, be sure to make a reservation. Seats at this special experience are limited. [$30/adult with champagne, $15/child] Best Tea Sandwiches: The Waldorf-Astoria Ifan indoor and splendidly opulent tea setting is more your style, an afternoon tea experience at Waldorf-Astoria’s Peacock Alley won’t disappoint. While the entire tea service is top notch, the tea sandwiches stand out notably. Little masterpieces of nuanced flavor, texture, and visual appeal, these chef-prepared savory offerings include Black Forest Ham with whole grain mustard cream cheese, pequillo peppers, and arugula, and a truly beautiful Roasted Turkey on carrot cake bread with dried cranberry cream cheese, topped with an edible flower. The tea options are limited but high quality and the pastry round is nice, as well.Though kids are welcome, the ambiance here feels adult and formal, making this an ideal afternoon date for you and someone you love. Also, this is a very filling tea service. [$30/adult, $35/adult with champagne, $15 child]
Best Family-Friendly Experience: American Girl Store Bistro
Want to give the little ones their first afternoon tea experience that feels special but still kid-friendly? The American Girl Store Bistro inside the store at The Florida Mall offers a daily tea option that is truly impressive, especially at such a reasonable price point. When it comes to delighting with small details, The American Girl Store is masterful, presenting 3-tiered platters adorned with miniature pudding parfaits that look like blooming flower pots; tiny muffins, cookies and cupcakes; fruit kabobs; and an assortment of tasty kid-approved sandwich alternatives, including mini-hamburgers, pigs in a blanket, and heart-shaped grilled cheese.
Think this tea experience is just for girls? Think again. On our visit we saw numerous dads and young boys thoroughly enjoying themselves and the food. Bonus points to The American Girl Store Bistro for providing table crafts to keep wiggling kids entertained, and also tiny chairs so your favorite doll can accompany you to tea. [$13.50/person]
Best Overall Afternoon Tea: The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes
If you want an impeccable and classic tea experience, The Ritz-Carlton’s afternoon tea wins on every level. Formal ambiance tempered by warm, friendly service, makes teaat The Ritz perfect for a romantic date, a special celebration, or quality time with yourself!
The heart of any tea experience (at least by our standards) is the tea itself and the scones. The Ritz offers an impressive menu of special collection teas (the Pear Caramel, Green Tea Passion, and Dark Chocolate Chip Truffle are nice selections to try) and the fresh orange-cranberry scones, served with lemon custard and Devonshire cream, are out of this world. The tea sandwiches (turkey, cucumber, egg, and salmon) and the pastry round (including a phenomenal apricot muffin and delicate opera bar cake) are filling and flavorful. And if you want a real treat, Royal Tea Service includes a glass of champagne and strawberries with whipped cream and drizzle of Grand Marnier. [$39/adult, $55/adult with champagne, $30 child]