Boston is famous for its Boston Tea Party of the 18th century where patriots dumped millions of dollars’ worth of British tea into Boston Harbor. The difference with a 21st century tea party is the elegant venues that offer them. It’s been a miserable, cold, snowy winter why not treat yourself to an afternoon of serenity, a mellow cup of tea or other liquid libations and some tasty treats.
Known as “Boston’s living room” the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel sets a wonderful tea tray of kir royale, exotic teas such as rose scented congou, jasmine, and green gunpowder accompanied by tea sandwiches, scones, Devonshire clotted cream. Snag a window table overlooking the Boston Public Garden where you and sip and sup while enjoying the view.
In Copley Square at the Boston Public Library is Novel Café where you can choose a book from the book-lined walls to enjoy with your tea. That is, of course, after you have toured the stunning John Singer Sargent and Edwin Austin Abbey murals in the McKim Building. At Novel’s you can choose from a selection of loose teas served with scones and clotted cream or finger sandwiches and an assortment of cakes and fresh fruit.
The Swan’s Café at the Park Plaza Hotel on Arlington Street is known for its sumptuous afternoon teas. This is where tea sommelier Cynthia Gold holds court. Ms. Gold is one of the few tea sommeliers in the world. While learning the history of tea and how to serve it from her you can sip on a spiced apple mar-tea-ni made with vodka, black tea and pears; or a Keemun Cream made with Keemun infused vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Keemun Hao Ya A tea. The cuisine ranges from wonderful tea sandwiches of jasmine tea cured gravlax to spiced orange tea roasted pork tenderloin served with mango chutney. Afternoon tea at the Swan’s Café is extremely popular, reservations are recommended. Available in the hotel’s gift shop is Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World co-authored by Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern. After your tea I’m sure Cynthia would be happy to autograph it for you.
Bond at the Langham Hotel (the Federal Reserve Bank in a former life) serves afternoon tea in classic grand hotel style starting with a variety of specialty teas and including tempting scones with Devonshire clotted cream. Also on the menu are mushroom and crème fraiche tartlet, ham roulade with cranberry relish and English cucumber sandwiches with Farmer’s cheese fresh dill. Desserts of chocolate dipped strawberries and French macaroons round out the faire offered.
If your taste leans to something a little stronger than tea and fruity cocktails then take the Historic Pub Crawl offered by the Freedom Trail Foundation. Your costumed guide will regale you with the history of the city’s original Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773) while taking you to several Irish pubs where you can sample traditional Boston fare along with some of Boston’s own Samuel Adams ales and lagers.
Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau www.bostonusa.com
Bristol Lounge www.fourseasons.com/boston
Courtyard at the Boston Public Library www.bpl.org
Swan’s Café at the Park Plaza Hotel www.bostonparkplaza.com
Bond at the Langham Hotel www.boston.langhamhotels.com
Historic Pub Crawl www.thefreedomtrail.org