By Valerie Kramer Davis
Photography by Mac Jamieson
Rolling hills lined with endless trees seem to guide the way into Atlanta, the Southeast's largest city, as buildings appear to dance in the skies. What a lovely segue from the quaint outlying communities to this vibrant city. As the eighth largest region in the United States, the city itself is bustling with business affairs and home to the world's busiest airport. But quietly nestled in and among the skyscrapers are charming, elegant tearooms in harmonious settings with delightful fare that captures the true essence and tradition of teatime.
Atlanta's array of tearooms can provide the ideal setting for a celebration, a casual midday escape, or simply an afternoon with friends. Whether you seek traditional or informal tea, Georgia's capital has plenty from which to choose. The city also has year-round events, shopping destinations, and museums for a full touring experience.
Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta
75 Fourteenth Street
Atlanta, GA 30309
Situated downtown within walking distance from the High Museum of Art is the lovely Four Seasons Hotel and Park 75 Restaurant. Through an airy lobby, a winding staircase leads guests to the open, natural-light terrace, where tea is served. Relax in oversize teak furniture below a canopy of giant ficus trees while your choice of tea is served with warm scones with freshly made raspberry jam, lemon curd, and Park 75's signature version of clotted cream. Loose-leaf tea is prepared in a tea press, resulting in just the right amount of brewing time to achieve peak flavor. Creative touches like edible gold-leaf-embellished profiteroles and curried Coronation Chicken Salad shaped like the Queen's crown make this tea service special.
The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead
3434 Peachtree Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
Nestled in the heart of Buckhead, Atlanta's affluent uptown district, with a beautiful view of the downtown skyline, is The Ritz-Carlton. Taking tea here is an institution in itself, stemming from the rich tradition and history of English afternoon tea. Pure elegance describes the setting: Classic Wedgwood china adorns the tables, and music is gracefully played on a baby grand piano. Plush Queen Anne wing chairs and cozy couches near the crackling fireplace mark the favored location for tea in The Lobby Lounge of the grand hotel.
"It's amazing what you see when you walk through The Lobby Lounge as tea is served", says Executive Chef Andrew Litherland. "You see togetherness and special memories being made." Pastries are served on a three-tiered tray for the final course, including the most popular mini chocolate-chip cookies. The macaroon is also a forte of executive pastry chef James Satterwhite. Saffron and Milk ChocolateCoriander Macaroons bring color to this spread of tea sweets. Afternoon tea has been served since the hotel's inception 25 years ago, and although the menu changes, the service remains impeccable.
Barclays Flower and Tea Garden
285 W. Wieuca Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342
Just around the corner is Barclay's Flower and Tea Garden, where owner and tea connoisseur Charlotte Barclay welcomes you to her charming tea venue. Charlotte transformed a dilapidated house into a quaint cottage, re-creating the vintage look and rustic feel of her favorite teahouse in London. Trained under European tea masters, Charlotte offers a variety of teas and delicious fare served with antique china she has collected from England over many years. "I just love tea. It's my everything", says Charlotte, who drinks several cups a day--her favorite is Jasmine. "And when I'm in my shop, it never feels like I'm working."
Mittie's Tea Room Cafe
62 N. Main Street
Alpharetta, GA 30009
Beyond the city limits, in the historic town of Alpharetta, is Mittie's Tea Room Cafe, where the selection of teas and fare is certain to please any palate. Sit on the comfortable porch in the warm Georgia air surrounded by old oak trees. Here, the familiar aroma of fresh scones and cookies entices you to choose from an extensive menu and the days specials. From quiche and crepes to soups, salads, and sandwiches, owner Cindy Hoynowski creates each recipe, using fresh, regional ingredients. Her famous Lobster Bisque and Cherry Bleu Chicken Salad keep visitors coming back. After tea, peruse the quaint shops next door, brimming with local wares and sweet gifts.
The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
181 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
For a twist on tradition, try the tea venue at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Atlanta. Choose from several chilled tea varieties, including Chamomile Citrus and Marrakesh Mint Green, sweetened with spun sugar and served in glass stemware. Heavier tea foods like Oxtail and Wild Mushroom Flatbread and Smoked Chicken, Provolone, and Arugula Panini are offered for the hearty appetite or to share with friends.
For a visual tour of these tea venues, click here.
Things to Do in Atlanta
Surround your tea experience with some of the many activities and entertainment venues in and around the city.
- Once home to the 1996 Olympic Games, Centennial Olympic Park is now a gathering spot for visitors and locals to enjoy beautiful landscaping, musical performances, and other planned events. Visit centennialpark.com.
- The Georgia Aquarium is the worlds largest indoor aquarium, with 8 million gallons of water and more than 60 exhibits. Visit georgiaaquarium.org.
- Atlanta is home to an array of shopping experiences, including the historic Underground Atlanta, which features shops and entertainment beneath the streets of downtown. Visit underground-atlanta.com.
- Piedmont Park hosts many festivals and cultural events, as well as offers walking trails and other places for outdoor activities. Visit piedmontpark.org.
- The Atlanta Botanical Garden features an array of beautiful indoor and outdoor plant collections. Visit atlantabotanicalgarden.org.
- The High Museum of Art has grown to become the leading art museum in the Southeastern United States with its renowned architecture and vast collections of classic and contemporary art. Visit high.org.
- Classical music is prevalent in the city and includes performances by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Opera, and the Atlanta Ballet. Visit atlantasymphony.org, atlantaopera.org, and atlantaballet.com.
- Fall is the ideal time to cheer on the home team. Watch the Atlanta Braves as they finish the season and the Atlanta Falcons as they kick off football. Visit braves.com and atlantafalcons.com for schedules.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the information listed above was correct. However, please be sure to verify this information before making plans to visit to ensure it has not changed.