Taking Tea in Richmond

Taking Tea in Richmond

The Jefferson Hotel
101 West Franklin Street • Richmond, Virginia 23220
888-918-1895 • jeffersonhotel.com

A member of the Historic Hotels of America, The Jefferson Hotel was opened in 1895 by Lewis Ginter, a Jeffersonian (one who advocates for the political principles of Thomas Jefferson) with a love for arts, architecture, and the city of Richmond. The auberge was Lewis’s contribution to all three of his passions. His admiration for the third president of the United States was reflected by the life-size statue he commissioned to stand in the upper lobby of the hotel. While the hotel has undergone more than one renovation in its history—following a fire in 1901 and upgrades in the 1980s and early 2000s— it remains a landmarkfor Richmond in many ways, including its culinary offerings.

As historical evidence shows that Thomas Jefferson was a frequent tea consumer, the tradition of afternoon tea is an apropos offering at his namesake hotel. Teatime has been a custom at the illustrious locale for almost four decades. Previously served under the stained-glass skylight of the hotel’s Palm Court Lobby, patrons are now seated in the Mezzanine overlooking the Rotunda Lobby and grand staircase. This move was made during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow the hotel to implement more social distancing while still providing an iconic view for guests.

Taking Tea in Richmond
Photograph courtesy of The Jefferson Hotel.

While many other venues in the area offer a traditional English format, The Jefferson proudly presents its variation, a Southern Afternoon Tea, for $35 per adult and $30 per child ages 4 to 8. Diners who opt for the tea service are treated to an assortment of finger sandwiches and savories, such as the Sundried Tomato & Arugula Spinach Wrap and the Ham on a Buttered White House Roll, freshly baked scones, and a selection of pastries and tea breads. Gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free menus are available for a $6 upcharge.

“We have tried new recipes, but based upon guest feedback, we have always returned to the items that are on the menu,” In-Room Dining and Afternoon Tea Manager Kelly Triplett says. “The inclusion of ham biscuits is our nod to Richmond’s Southern food roots. These little sandwiches are housemade with salty country ham from Edwards Virginia Smokehouse on White House rolls.… These are a Richmond staple, and the standard for a ‘proper’ ham biscuit in the region.”

To accompany the meal, The Jefferson offers six teas from which the guests can choose, including the hotel’s specialty Richmond Blend, which is inspired by a Colonial Williamsburg recipe. It is a spicy blend of black tea, cinnamon oil, orange peel, and cloves. Another specialty selection for the venue, The Jefferson Blend features a combination of Keemun, Darjeeling, and Ceylon teas.

The Southern Afternoon Tea is offered year-round, but the hotel also boasts a number of special tea events throughout the year, including the twice-monthly Chocolate Lovers’ Tea and a fun-filled Santa Tea during the month of December.

“A guest favorite is our Chocolate Lovers’ Tea, which is served every first and third Saturday of the month, featuring our regular tea menu with an added selection of decadent chocolates made by our pastry team,” Kelly notes. “Reservations for all of our teas sell out weeks in advance, so guests are encouraged to call early to book their preferred dates.”

The Jefferson Hotel offers seatings for afternoon tea between noon at 4:15 p.m., Friday through Sunday.

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