The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
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Park Hyatt Washington’s Tea Table is available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. To make a reservation for afternoon tea please call +1 202 419 6620 or visit

I heard about the Park Hyatt Washington’s Tea Cellar – and went with my grade school friends in September 2010. We were having a gathering. We sat in a glass enclosed area which was great for chattering while we ate without interrupting or being interrupted.

There were many tea assorted sandwiches on bread, and an assortment of sweets.

For a fixed price you could eat as many sandwiches and sweets from the buffet as you like, and get a pot of tea to share. I remember enjoying the sandwiches and sweets alike.

I had issue with the teapots. Which I will get into more later. But suffice it to say it was a lovely time with friends, but disappointing that they were out of macrons.

A nice tea service but not so remarkable I would recommend it or greatly desire to go back.

Pictures 2010

2015 – I hear they have re-launched and have a tea specialist Christian Eck, so I decide to try again.

I told a friend about it, and he took his wife a few weeks before we went. They unfortunately had a bad experience.

The complaints he had were that when they went the buffet price didn’t include tea, and they were charged extra. When we attended together a few weeks later we were informed tea up to 12$ was included after that we had to pay. I wonder what went wrong with that during his visit?

He also indicated they had poor service in general, two examples being they had to stack plates as they were not cleared between buffet trips, and they were not offered water for a resteep of their puerh.

Well then he and I get our chance to go – a Saturday afternoon in December.

We got an Freak of Nature Oolong, Barrel Aged Lapsang Souchong.

The Freak of Nature tasted like a typical Wuyi oolong – but I didn’t have much control over the steeping.

The Lapsang Souchong had nice caramel and woody notes from the barrel to finish and was a fun thing to have, I recommend it.

We tried a resteep of each, luckily this time we were offered more water unlike his prior visit with the puerh.

The lapsang did resteep but lost the barrel aged qualities. The oolong opened up nicely, still smooth, more floral. The oolong could certainly have had more steeps but we had other things we had to get to.

The complaints I had about the tea itself are as follows:

They indicate they have some very special teas. I own a tea company so perhaps I am biased but I didn’t see much unusual in the tea menu beside some assorted older purerh. There were single origin (from a single estate), aged in barrels, aged in fruits, and other things that are fairly common in the tea world currently.

“Park Hyatt Washington’s Tea Cellar is home to one of the most unique and expansive collections of tea in the United States, with over 37 rare and limited-production, single-estates teas. Featuring teas from remote regions of China, Japan, Sri Lanka and the Himalayas, as well as herbal selections from Egypt, France and Argentina, the Tea Cellar’s sophisticated offerings introduce guests to the highest quality of tea, similar to the level of flavor and complexity of fine wines. The tea experience includes White, Chinese Green, Japanese Green, Black, Herbal, Oolong, and the deepest selection of Pu-Erh teas in the country with vintages ranging from 1949 to 2003. The Tea Cellar showcases a glass tea humidor to age and store vintage tea, in addition to a lit display of tea blossoms that flower when steeped in water.”

The preparations of the tea is lacking, and even if they use nice teas I bet people don’t fully get to experience or enjoy them!

Specifically they do not seem to measure, by weight, the proper amount of leaves for the teapots.
My friend and his wife indicated there was very, very little puerh.
On our trip there was way too much oolong, and about the right amount of lapsang souchong.

All the water seemed equally hot, I would have expected cooler water for the oolong. I fear what would happen if I ordered a white.

In addition they bring the tea to the table, after and unknown steep time, with no way to remove the basket, and nothing to put it on if you did. This resulted in an over steeped lapsang.

I would think, to best handle guests of all levels, they might want to steep the tea the proper temperature, and time, and leaves then remove the basket and bring both to the table and explain the leaves can be made into a second pot of tea when they are ready. This would educate and make it such that each tea was prepared well and could be enjoyed without extra tannins.

I understand the aesthetic of the glass teapots, although not ideal for all teas look nice and could settle for that since they offer tea warmers – if we could better steep the tea initially and were just trying to keep it warm.

The presentation of the foods was nicer than the 2010 visit, and still the same approximate number of selections. An adequate amount I believe.

The savories are now assorted instead of all white bread sandwiches. They are tasty but skew heavily to seafood which left one poor guest with only two options of savory to eat.
I believe when we went it was lobster sandwiches, oysters, pumpkin quiche, chicken wraps and deviled eggs (which one waitstaff seemed to indicate had seafood in it).

The sweets had two kind of scones, red velvet cupcakes (which were very dry), very boring cookies (two kinds), tasty macrons (assorted flavors), some kind of lemon merange tart, a chocolate raspberry mousse cup, and there may have been something else I missed. On the whole I most enjoyed the mousse and macrons.

If I had not seen the bit about the tea specialist, I would have been pleased by the improvements. However I got my hopes up.

Overall it was a nice afternoon out with my friend, an improvement on the buffet since 2010, but still disappointing tea preparation.

Tea Rose Garden in Pasadena, California
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My mother and I went to the Tea Rose Garden for the Christmas Tea.
The location was adorable – an indoor garden setting with water fountain, rose trellis, hedges and a gazebo where a bridal shower was occurring. The place was all trussed up for Christmas and was very festive.

The three layered tea tray came with
butternut squash soup – thick and spiced like a sweet potato pie
Petal salad – just spring greens with a vinaigrette
2 baked ham, brie and cranberry tea sandwich
2 chicken almond tea sandwich
2 goat cheese and sun dried tomato tea sandwich
1 mini shepards pie
1 lemon raspberry scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam.
fresh fruit
1 petit four
red velvet, gingerbread and peppermint macaroons
eggnog mousse cake
a pot of Christmas blend black tea which we resteeped twice
about 40$ for both of us

Service was a bit slow and frazzeled but very pleasant.
The food was mostly unremarkable, not bad but not great.
We both very much enjoyed the red velvet macaroon, the butternut squash soup, the baked ham and brie sandwich, and found the scone amazingly moist and tasty. Everything else was uneventful.

Many of the items there were only one of so you had to share, which is no problem as my mother and I are happy to share food but something to be aware of for those who might not.

The teabag (tsac) was left in the teapot, leading to oversteeping if you aren’t careful. this is becoming a peeve of mine in afternoon teas. Please steep the tea properly, or bring out a timer and dish and tongs to remove the tea!

I forgot to note what the christmas tea was spice with, but it mainly came out cardamom, but was enjoyable.

We had to go to the register to pay, it was a little awkward as no one said anything and perhaps we should have waited on a check?

American Tea Room in Los Angeles, CA
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My sister was displeased with the area it was located in, she said if she had known where we were going we would not have gone after dark.

The building and interior itself were gorgeous, high ceilings, exposed woodwork, very crisp and modern tables and chairs.

I loved the test tube smelling area. You could scan then and a screen would tell you all about them.

The staff was friendly, helpful, but not pushy.

I got the Himalayan Butter Tea (Nepalese Black, Oolong & Pu Er Tea, Butter, Salt, Milk, Honey)

It tasted spiced, I liked the texture of the butter, but I would have sworn there were spices in it and it was interesting but not something I would get again.

There were an assortment of gold mylar bags, gift boxes, and tea ware one could buy and take home, in the outdoor seating area there was a living wall.

I enjoyed the visit and would gladly go back, apparently only before dark.

The Tea Room At Bannon's Irish Inn in Clifton Forge, Virginia
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They carry The Devotea USA teas (mine) and serve delicious breakfast foods (pancakes, eggs, crispy bacon – I have never made it for lunch) – and they plan to open 2 bed and breakfast rooms soon.

Zhi Tea in Austin, Texas
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I visited Zhi Tea 12-11-11 @ 3:16pm
Address: 4607 Bolm Rd., Austin, TX 78702

It was a very sharp turn to get to the right street, I passed it once and ended up having to circle back to it. There was limited parking, but the place was not very full. By the end of my visit there were 4 other patrons, 3 of which stayed with for here drinks.

One woman, the blender, was taking care of the front of the store. She was very knowledgeable and helpful with telling me about the teas and helping me select one to have.

The walls were covered with shelves of tea, and plenty of sampler sizes.

There were 4 tables, and 1 couch corner.

Average experience for a tea shop, but cozy and nice. I will gladly go back to visit next time I am in Austin.

Alice's Tea Cup, Chapter II in New York, New York
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Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II NYC

156 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10065-7411 (Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II)

After shopping at Kusmi I headed down to Alice’s for lunch. The reviews on Steepster left me a little wary but friends on Facebook had recommended I visit it next time I was in town.

I did need to look around a bit to find it as it was around the corner and the entrance was set down below the sidewalk.

Once I found it I headed in and asked for a table for one. The hostess was pleasant and happy. I did feel a little guilty coming in at peak time alone.

I was seated on the level below sidewalk next to the kitchen; there was definitely a second floor that plates were being brought up to.

The restaurant was skinny and long. The décor was mismatched china and framed prints of pictures of various Alice films, and artist pictures and painting inspired by the same.

There were little notes around (think eat me and drink me) like on the dessert case (come closer, come closer).

They did pull off the wonderland tea party, grandmomther’s parlor theme well.

The tables were wooden with wooden chairs; the table I was on was actually an old converted sewing desk with footpedal.

The staff seemed to have droopy too large and mismatched attire as a uniform (which makes sense) that added to the theme.

The tea menu was very large and descriptive – and sorted by type. I wished I were not alone and could order more than one tea to share and try with someone. The food selection was also diverse and tea themed (scones and such).

The wait staff didn’t seem happy with me; I guess I was taking up space at a four person table for only one person. I felt a little bad but wished they didn’t seem so grumpy about it.

I ordered Alice’s Tea (house blend and apparently a favorite).
The tea I received in a whole, not small, teapot with an interesting drip catcher sponge attached. It was served abruptly with my cup only half poured and sloshed about. Was this thematic to the mad hatter’s tea party or just an angry waitress that she got the one patron table?

The tea itself was a translucent orange brown color. There was not a strong aroma to the brewed tea. The tea was slightly astringent, so I added sugar to the first cup, but as I kept refilling it I didn’t bother as it was so slight. The tea was a smooth, medium bodied black with citrus notes. I couldn’t taste the green tea they blended into the black. It was a little floral.

For lunch I ordered the cumin carrot sandwich. It was delicious and filling and presented well.

I tried not to be a burden and to eat and drink in a not dawdling way, but I could not resist the cookie plate at the end.

There were chocolate peanut cookies; butterscotch chip cookies, crasin macadamia cookies and what I believe were shortbread.

Overall good food, not bad tea, and a grumpy wait staff.


Lady Mendl's in New York, New York
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I called a few days in advance and the only opening was at the 5 pm seating, I am glad it wasn’t booked. I suggest making sure you plan this in advance.

When I arrived I nearly passed the location by, there is a plaque next to the door but nothing else.

I walked in and explained I was there for the tea parlor, and was taken to my seat in a small parlor. There was already one group of four ladies seated, and I got to select which table I wanted from the remaining 4. After I was seated the remaining tables did fill with two pairs and one single person.

It was interesting to note that all the wait staff was male, and all the patrons were female.

The waiter explained the difference between a tea and a tisane infusion while presenting the tea menu to me, which was a pleasant surprise.

Each guest may select one tea, and the 5 courses are decided by the tea parlor and not listed anywhere.

I selected the Wood Dragon Oolong, which they said was steeped 5-7 minutes.

Throughout the five course meal the wait staff kept my tea filled, my water filled, and the courses coming. You will not leave hungry.

The parlor had an upscale, fancy restaurant, vibe. You didn’t need to know your tea, or tea preparation, to appreciate the lovely meal.

The first course was a butternut squash tart, topped with parmesan cheese and crème fresh. It was surprisingly spicy, but tasty.

Next my pot of tea arrived; it had already been properly steeped so no worry about removing leaves or timing it. I was offered cream, which I declined. The table already had granulated white sugar and candied ginger. The tea saucer had a cute sugar cube with frosting flower on top.

Second course was finger sandwiches; I could select one of each. I was offered seconds after I completed my sandwiches, I appreciated that but passed. Each sandwich had one predominating flavor, and sadly all other flavors were lost. Please note that they were tasty and filling.
-Smoked salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel
-Turkey cranberry
-Egg salad

I asked the waiter if I could purchase some wood dragon and Lord Mendel tea to take home and I was quoted 7$ each. I accepted.

Third course was scones, one plain and one cranberry, with raspberry preserves and Devonshire cream. They were nice and warm, sweet. I do think the cream tasted exactly like whipped butter and wonder if there was a mistake or if Devonshire cream just tasted like whipped butter.

There was sadly no refill offer on scones. I wasn’t going to accept as I wanted to be able to eat dessert, but as they say it’s the thought that counts.

Fourth course was a layered crepe cake filled with vanilla cream on a raspberry coolie(?). It was light, and creamy. The raspberry was minimal and completely overwhelmed by the vanilla.

Fifth course was a large strawberry dipped in Belgian chocolate, apricot pastry and a shortbread or butter cookie covered in sugar. I devoured the strawberry, it was perfectly ripe and delicious. The pastries were not fabulous, I ended up taking a nibble of each but didn’t bother to finish since I was stuffed.

The waiter came back and asked for my to go order a second time. When he came back with the packaged teas I was dismayed to find that they were bagged teas, and over ten dollars each for 4 teabags per bag. I still purchased them but in the future I will likely not bother to purchase the tea.

The five courses and tea were 35$ plus tax and 20% tip

My bill, with tip, came to 67$

I would recommend this as a nice place to enjoy good tea and food with friends, it’s inexpensive and filling with great, attentive, service. If you are really a tea person though I would recommend you go elsewhere.

Tea & Sympathy in New York, New York
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I decided to have dinner at Dinner at Tea & Sympathy around 9 pm on Saturday.

There is a list of rules on the door, funny enough that Nicky spells her name the same way.

The wait staffs were two girls, one Irish, not sure the other one’s accent but it sounded UK/Ireland.

Overall it’s a tiny place, but when I arrived it was almost full, but no wait.

They discourage lingering, but are pleasant, helpful, and it seems (I have never visited England) like a shop you could find abroad.

I had the soup of the day, squash soup, with a lapsing souchong.

The soup was spicy but nice. It wasn’t heavy and I was glad for that on a hot night.

The Lapsang Souchong was prepared as loose leaf in a postman teapot. They provided a cup strainer to keep leaves out of your cup while pouring.

They failed to mention how long, or that they had not steeped the tea yet. I let it set two more minutes as it was very pale. I think it could have used another minute.

The unfortunate part of the large pot and small teacup was that my first cup was weak, my second cup was perfect, and the third cup was over steeped as there is no way to stop the steeping process other than to drink faster.

Although there is a no lingering policy I never felt rushed, and the girls knew their product.

Sadly I failed to get photos of the outside or inside. The inside walls are decorated with pictures of royalty, and other random British memorabilia. Behind the counter there are many, many different teapots and teacups, which do seem to get used. I wonder if even the ones on the top shelves near the ceiling get used when it gets very busy.

The bathroom was next to the kitchen and was tiny. The door stuck, so at first I thought it was occupied, the staff saw me look dejected and pointed out I just needed to pull harder.

Overall the place was clean, the food was good, the quality of the tea was good, and the staff was very pleasant and helpful. My only complaint is the need to monitor your own tea after it arrives at an unknown steep time. I would recommend stopping by – the people near me were enjoying mushroom pie, scones and clotted cream, and other delicious looking items.

My meal came to $16 including tip.

Next door is the store, Carry on Tea & Sympathy’s, it is small. The store makes excellent use of their space to offer a large selection of teas and china. They also offer to go service for those not wanting to sit for a meal.

Next to the store is an unrelated fish and chips store, making that stretch of street very British.

Lupicia Fresh Tea - San Francisco in San Francisco, California
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We visited the store Sunday morning and were helped by a very nice lady. She was not pushy or intrusive like in some stores but was ready and willing help answer questions or find things when you needed her.

The store had a wall of loose teas, displays of holiday tins, and a small assortment of tea pots and other tea equipment. It was very festive.

There were two samples out in the store. The lady said that during the slower non-holiday season they would also sample other teas at the wrapping table to help people decide what to purchase.

I purchased: Glass Gaiwan, Mango oolong, Melon Oolong, Joyeux Noel, Orzo

Included in the pretty thick (gifting quality) shopping bag were 4 teabag samples of strawberry & vanilla green tea and a pamphlet.


Samovar Tea Lounge - Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, California
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I had the Bai Hao Oolong Tea for breakfast. I ordered it as there was no Golden Phoenix Oolong Tea available. The waitress suggested this as an alternative and i enjoyed it. I had the Ginger Quinoa Waffle (Soft like a pillow, heavenly. Served with fresh fruit & real maple syrup) along with this tea.

MilitiaJim had the Russian Chay Platter & Bottomless Samovar House-Blend Black Tea. The Chay Platter included: Tarragon-Marinated Beets, Smoked Whitefish & Horseradish, paprika Devilled Egg w/ Caviar, Wheat Crackers, Fresh Fruit, Chocolate Brownie.

The location has comfortable benches, outdoor seating, huge windows for natural light and is very cozy. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. The food was great, and the tea was amazing.




I am The Devotea USA. I love caffeine! I prefer tea to coffee. I prefer my flavors to be in your face, not subtle. I plan to use this blog to keep track of the teas I have tried.

I get my daily dose of caffeine from Starbucks (Grande soy no water chai latte).

0-25=Bleh! not again if it were free
25-50=Acceptable, if it were free or there were limited other tea options
50-75=I might purchase this tea from time to time, or select it while out
75-100=A staple in our cupboard from now on, I will purchase and keep purchasing


Blacksburg, Virginia


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