By Valerie Kramer Davis
Photography by Marcy Black Simpson
There’s something wonderfully soothing about having a steaming cup of tea when a chill is in the air. Salt Lake City, Utah, where the surrounding mountains have an average snowfall of nearly 40 feet each year and the wintry mood lingers well into spring, is a pleasant place to delight in afternoon tea at one of the city’s tea venues.
Known as the Crossroads of the West, Salt Lake City brims with history, art, and culture. The city’s lovely assortment of tearooms presents a new and different tea-taking experience for locals and visitors alike. From a classic three-course tea service and entertaining tea parties to an authentic English-style bakery and teashop, there’s something to delight every tea lover’s fancy.
THE BEE HIVE TEA ROOM
12 West 300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Nestled in the historic Clift Building in the heart of downtown, The Bee Hive Tea Room is a cozy retreat from the busy world. The vintage 1940s-inspired décor, resplendent in vibrant colors, invites patrons to relax and sip a selection of the Bee Hive’s 35 loose-leaf teas in comfort. Chinese lanterns adorn the ceilings amid antique chandeliers, and shabby-chic furnishings abound.
The impeccable service and delectable tea and tea fare at The Bee Hive Tea Room are reminiscent of another time and place. “People long for that nostalgia,” says owner Lisa Brady, who prefers to “keep things personal. I like to find the best of everything and make people feel at home here.”
After several years working as a set artist for the film and television industry, Lisa wanted a career change. “This is my set that I was to able make that I don’t have to change or take down.” The Bee Hive Tea Room opened in the fall of 2003 with afternoon tea served in a collection of classic teapots.
Lisa describes her tearoom as “traditional with a twist.” Less crystal and more whimsical, mismatched china used to create the place settings lend a more fun atmosphere. Homemade English scones baked in-house are available at afternoon tea and throughout the day. “We serve an array of simple fare,” says Lisa. “I like to think back to when I was a kid, to the homey, old-fashioned foods everyone loves.” Cold sandwiches such as tomato and cream cheese on soft bread and a spread of sweets including locally made cakes and cookies are just some of The Bee Hive’s offerings.
ELIZABETH’S ENGLISH BAKERY AND TEA SHOP
575 South 700 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Exposed brick walls and Old-World elements make visitors feel as if they’ve walked into a quaint English bakery. That’s the goal of Elizabeth’s Bakery and Tea Shop owners Ronni Matthews and Mike Kennedy. Their tearoom is next door to Salt Lake City’s popular London Market. “We are as authentically English as possible in everything we do,” says manager Tara Duff. “Our customers even tell us it feels just like England!”
With a nod to British tradition, Elizabeth’s serves distinguished English black and herbal bagged teas, along with customary British sweets and savories. English-recipe scones are prepared fresh daily in flavors such as cheese, raisin, and ginger. Meat pies, quiches, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, and “real” crumpets are constants on the menu and keep customers coming back. An enticing pastry case offers luscious desserts, including cream-filled éclairs, Millionaire’s Shortbread, and the shop’s signature Vanilla Slice.
THE TEA GROTTO
2030 South 900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
The Asian-inspired ambience of Salt Lake City’s Tea Grotto is a welcoming reminder of the relaxed aura that tea often brings. “It’s about slowing down and getting back to what’s important,” says owner Rebecca Sheeran, a tea expert and graduate of the Specialty Tea Institute. “I just love tea because it has a spiritual energy that offers us that opportunity to be present and in the moment.”
When Rebecca began researching day spas, she became enthralled with the role tea plays in health. It was then that she decided to open a tearoom with a quiet atmosphere and a focus on the study and enjoyment of tea. Five years ago, The Tea Grotto began providing a peaceful environment where lovely imported teas are served. Creative tea and food pairings, like polenta with green pesto and toasted pine nuts presented with Genmaicha tea, offer delightful culinary experiences. Tea tastings and teachings take place every Saturday. “It’s just my passion,” remarks Rebecca. “I teach tea, but tea is still teaching me.”
THE GRAND AMERICA HOTEL
555 South Main Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Become enveloped in Old-World hospitality at The Grand America Hotel on 10 scenic acres in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. Breathtaking views of the hotel’s lovely courtyard garden present a relaxing ambience as scents of fine teas and delicious culinary delights entice you to sit and enjoy. The delicate notes of a harp keep guests in a state of repose as afternoon tea is served in the hotel’s sophisticated Lobby Lounge.
European boutique-inspired décor fills The Grand America Hotel with elegance and charm, featuring French cherrywood furniture, English wool carpet, and chandeliers from Milan. To enhance the European tradition, afternoon tea has been served since the hotel’s opening in spring 2001. The extensive menu showcases an array of tea sandwiches such as prosciutto ham and bay shrimp salad with watercress. Sweet pastries, dainty cakes, and rich tortes provide a pleasant ending to the event.
To view photos of these tearooms, click here.
THINGS TO DO IN SALT LAKE CITY
• A visit to the famous 20,000-square-mile Great Salt Lake, the second saltiest in the world, is an absolute must. With its white sands and turquoise water, the lake and its islands provide lovely scenery and recreational opportunities. The surrounding wildlife refuge attracts millions of migratory birds each year.
• Sit back and enjoy the beauty of song with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The more than 360 members include men and women from many different backgrounds and professions, ranging in age from 25 to 60, brought together by their love for singing.
• The Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Salt Lake Art Center are homes to an array of fine artwork. A view of civilization through a Pan-Asian display, the Browning Collection of European Masterworks, and other visiting exhibits at UMFA present glimpses of history, while contemporary art is showcased at the Salt Lake Art Center.
• Salt Lake City abounds with magnificent architecture. The stately Joseph Smith Memorial Building, formerly Hotel Utah, was built in 1911, later restored, and then reopened in 1993. It houses two restaurants, a small movie theater, and a variety of banquet halls.
• Experience the culture and history of this beautiful state with a visit to Brigham Young’s home, known as The Beehive House. This National Historic Landmark has been beautifully restored with furnishings of the 1800s to reflect the way the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lived with his family in the Utah Territory.
• The outdoors awaits visitors with a plethora of activities year-round. The pretty 80-acre Liberty Park is one of the valley’s largest parks, featuring a pond with two islands and the Tracy Aviary—the oldest aviary in the United States with exhibits of more than 130 different bird species.
• Adjacent to the Wasatch-Cache National Forest lies This Is The Place Heritage Park, a village that re-creates daily 19th-century pioneer life. The park features adobe houses, shops, schools, and churches from the era.
• Utah has been tagged as having “The Greatest Snow on Earth,” and as home to some of the lightest powder snow, Salt Lake City is ideal for the sport of skiing. Area resorts, including Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude, offer exquisite views and enjoyable outdoor recreation.
• Set in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, the Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum is host to outdoor concerts and beautiful plant and floral exhibits. The natural area offers children’s activities, a hiking trail, and seasonal festivals.
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.