A Coffee Drinker’s Guide to Afternoon Tea

I am a hardcore coffee lover. Almost every day I have two double espressos and a morning cup of “American” coffee or cappuccino. Pick a method, any method, of brewing a cup and I will enjoy every sip to the last drop.

Imagine waking up in the morning to find yourself in a parallel universe where coffee has been banned and all you had was tea… if that scares you as bad as it does me then afternoon tea may not be on your agenda…ever.

I am not a fan of tea unless it is black tea with milk and sugar … because it is pretty much pretending to be coffee and I am ok with that. The only time I find myself drinking tea is when I am sick… end of story. My wife on the other hand LOVES tea. She has mason jars filled with loose tea and tea blends.

A Tea Lover and a Coffee Lover… married?! Scandalous!!

I know, but despite our differences we manage to make it work.

How did a coffee drinker end up having afternoon tea?
I somehow found myself in a tea conversation with Ms. G from The Tea Decree. She went on and on about the wonders of afternoon tea, as her eyes lit up like a child on Christmas, describing the crust-less tea sandwiches, clotted cream, jams, scones, pastries, and of course tea. In typical fashion I proceeded to mock the concept. That did not put a damper on her enthusiasm as she told me how much my wife would enjoy afternoon tea. She continued on in a trance long after I had removed myself from the conversation and disappeared. I imagine she may still be sitting there talking about afternoon tea.

Well I eventually gave in and decided I would bring my wife out for afternoon tea at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon in NYC. I knew she would love it.

What did I expect?

  • I expected to leave hungry.
  • I expected the whole experience to feel more pretentious than a fancy wine bar.
  • I expected I would be miserable, but I would put on my best fake happy face.
  • I expected I would never care to return to another tea service.
  • I expected that I would not be swayed to liking tea other than when it dressed up like coffee or when I was sick.

My Impressions
Despite these expectations I went in with an open(ish) mind. The place itself is in a gorgeous Brownstone in the city. You feel like you are sitting in someone’s living room for a visit with them. The staff is very kind and accommodating. The ambiance was very relaxed and made for great conversation.

Here we go:

Order Tea
We ordered the Spring Dream Rooibos tea, which is described as:

A wonderful blend of green rooibos with cacao and cinnamon and flavored with Bavarian chocolate, cinnamon and hazelnuts. It brews to a golden cup with the delicious aroma and taste of cinnamon baked goodies.

I took one sip and… thought it was delicious! Fine, the tea tastes good (it’s still no coffee), but what about everything else.

First Course
We started with a seasonal butternut squash soup which was lovely. (And Tea)

Second Course
Next came the assorted tea sandwiches… which made me laugh because I am a big guy and these things are tiny in my hands… but they too were very good. Order more if you like… I did not because I wanted to see if I would leave hungry. (And Tea)LMSammie

Third Course
Then these amazing looking scones arrived, still warm, waiting to be slathered with a choice of preserves and clotted cream. I have never had clotted cream, but I am sure I could have eaten that stuff with a spoon. (And Tea)

LMCream

Fourth Course
I was shocked that I was starting to feel full after the scones… and then came the crepe cake. Light, fluffy, creamy, heavenly bite after bite… I barely made it through the cake. (And Tea)

LMCake

Last Course
Cookies, chocolate covered stra… Done! I give up! (And Tea)

LMCookie

Recap:

  1. You will not leave hungry
  2. It will not be pretentious
  3. You won’t be miserable… even though you really want to be for some reason… probably because it is tea.
  4. You will probably think, “hey maybe I could do this again”
  5. Tea is good… but COFFEE!!!

As I understand it there are some other places that are snooty and there is proper tea etiquette that is supposed to be followed… THOSE are the place that I will not be found. The experience was a good one overall and quite enjoyable… even for a coffee drinker.

Now I am off to order my second double espresso for the day. Enjoy!

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