Hotels have pivoted during the pandemic, offering everything from pop-up drive-ins to Netflix binge kits. And now they have adapted their afternoon tea into an at-home affair.
The formal tradition, whose origins stretch back to the 1840s with Anna Maria Russell, the Duchess of Bedford, typically includes a parade of scones, delicate finger sandwiches and cakes and pastries in an opulent hotel setting. Properties all over the world have reimagined tea service, including everything from housemade scones with clotted cream and lemon curd to curated playlists to listen to while sipping a cuppa at your dining room table.
Forbes Travel Guide found hotels all over the globe where you can pick up elaborate takeaway teas.
When the pandemic forced this canalside hotel’s temporary closure, it brainstormed ways to stay engaged with guests. The Waldorf Astoria found an answer to its beloved tea service and became the first property in Amsterdam to make it available for pickup. “Afternoon tea fans could enjoy a little luxury at home during the lockdown period,” a hotel representative says. “It is still very popular for those special occasions at home.”
The seasonally changing Afternoon Tea at Home will launch with a chocolate edition October 2. Food is paired with a TWG blend: rich Number 1 Tea goes with savory bites like a cocoa madeleine with pear, blue cheese and chocolate pearls; and Red Chocolate Tea accompanies the chocolate bomb with coconut, lychee and bitter chocolate as well as the ruby chocolate scone with raspberry compote.
The hotel’s tea kit even includes ambiance. Scan the provided QR code for the Apple or Spotify playlist to make soft classical piano your teatime soundtrack.
The Four Seasons’ impressive takeaway tea presentation closely resembles what you would expect at a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel — the set arrives on a three-tiered stand, albeit one made with food-grade art paper.
The spread itself is similar to the afternoon tea that’s served at The Lounge. It features executive pastry chef Ringo Chan’s delicious plain and raisin scones with Devonshire clotted cream and the hotel’s signature jams; items like Iberico ham and kimchi mini poppyseed buns and foie gras mousse with quince jam napoleon; sweets like cassis and violet teapot macarons and red velvet cake; and individually packed Tealeaves teabags.
The hotel reports that the to-go tea has been very popular, and it will debut a holiday-themed version starting November 11.
This D.C. icon is known for its afternoon tea — it’s been serving some form of it since the 1920s. The ritual has drawn ambassadors, foreign ministers and local celebrities, including ladies from The Real Housewives of Potomac, who sipped tea at the Willard in a 2016 episode and then used the encounter as inspiration for a tea-themed reunion that season.
October 3 brings the new fall to-go menu, which stars one-of-a-kind J’enwey Tea Co. loose-leaf blends like the favorite Champagne & Berries (pai mu tan — white peony — leaves and dried berries spritzed with bubbly) and Rose Lemon Chardonnay (white tea, rose petals and chardonnay essence), along with decadent noshes, like lobster tarragon salad on brioche, chocolate-hazelnut profiteroles and bourbon vanilla and dried Maine blueberry scones. The hotel also curated a special harp Spotify playlist for your home service.
But if you really want to experience the tradition within the grand confines of the hotel, the Willard offers an overnight package that includes a socially distant afternoon tea in your suite.
Drawing more than 80,000 yearly guests, afternoon tea is an institution at the elegant Victoria, Canada, hotel. It’s been a tradition there for more than 110 years, and the takeout version is a hit. Locals scoop up the boxes and bring them to the Empress Lawns and Rose Garden or over to nearby attractions like the harbor and Beacon Hill Park for an alfresco meal.
Peek inside the artfully arranged box and you’ll find a bottle of iced tea — the bright Empress 1907 orange pekoe — alongside the signature raisin scones; poached Vancouver Island egg salad and cold smoked Pacific sockeye salmon with chive crème fraîche on a blini; and a maple and pecan tart with spiced caramelized white chocolate and whiskey Chantilly cream.
Check with the hotel on November 20 for the unwrapping of the Festive Tea To Go menu. There’s no better way to usher in the holiday season than with a box of mouthwatering Christmas treats or to give it as a gift.
The Nashville landmark’s to-go tea comes picnic-ready in a custom-made Hermitage tote bag. Tucked inside, you’ll discover a stash of In Pursuit of Tea (Jade Spring green and Darjeeling 2nd Flush black teas), scones (sweet cream and herbed varieties) and desserts (coconut cookies and a heavenly vanilla cake).
The goodies also include sandwiches — like tarragon chicken salad with red grapes and sliced almonds on sourdough; country ham, pimento cheese and pepper jelly on brioche; and johnnycakes topped with crème fraîche and smoked salmon — with a special origin. They were inspired by The Woman Suffrage Cookbook, an 1886 recipe collection from the movement’s influential women (the book is available at the hotel gift shop).
It’s a nod to the centennial of the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Tennessee was the last state needed to ratify the amendment, and the hotel played a pivotal role as a backdrop for campaigning. Pro-suffragists showed solidarity at The Hermitage by wearing yellow roses, which is why the bloom also comes in the tea tote.