The Tea Cellar Edit

8 ratings
1 2 3 4 5
Type Tea Room
Style Modern
Serves Loose-leaf
Food Pastries, Sandwiches
Features Afternoon tea, High tea, Tastings
Good For Groups, Dates, Meetings
Hours
Sat Sun 2:30 PM 4:30 PM
Photo submitted by takgoti
Photo submitted by takgoti
Photo submitted by takgoti
Photo submitted by takgoti
Photo submitted by takgoti

7 Reviews

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
2/5
Edit
AmazonV rated this place
2/5
and said Edit

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 www.parkhyattwashington.com.

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.

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
4/5
Edit
slygirl rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I’ve enjoyed quite a few pots of tea in their lobby lounge when I’m flush with cash, but I haven’t had the opportunity to experience their Afternoon Tea.

When you’re at the Park Hyatt, you want to dress up a little bit. They won’t turn you away if you’re in street clothes, but you’ll feel a bit self-conscious as you’re sipping your tea in this swank environment. You won’t feel out of place if you’re dressed elegant casual or smart casual. You’re really paying for the ambiance. A pot of tea ranges in price from $8 and up, with the blooming teas (“performance tea” on the menu) is priced at $12-18. Your tea expert is really a lounge server, so their tea knowledge varies.

I would recommend splitting a pot of tea with a friend and stick with teas in the $8-18 range. They do refill your pot upon request, so that kind of offsets the costs. In my experience, the water temperature ranged from being just right to near boiling, so I wouldn’t risk ordering a delicate white tea. However, they seem to get a lot of requests for blooming tea, and those are prepared correctly. As for food, you are limited to the lounge menu, which is also expensive. If you want to really treat yourself, the Blue Duck Tavern is one of the best restaurants in the city.

After consuming all that tea, be sure to utilize their lobby restroom, with your own private sink in each stall.

As an aside, The Park Hyatt’s former Assistant F&B Manager was a former colleague of mine, and he was a certified Tea Sommelier. He is definitely passionate and knowledgeable about tea (especially Chinese teas), but the Tea Cellar was already established before he joined the team. I hope he had the opportunity to add his touch to the menu or impart some of his tea knowledge to the staff before he left.

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
4/5
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RogersCK rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

I visited Tea Cellar with my husband and a couple of friends back in 2008. The ambiance was warm and comfortable and for about $20.00 per person (can’t remember the exact price), the buffet of finger sandwiches and desserts was well-stocked and pretty good for the price. The tea options were limited but nice. I was expecting great service but was disappointed, the waitress was pretty snotty. Overall, I enjoyed the experience. We talked about visiting the place again but they were closed when were last in DC. Besides, I heard that the buffet price almost doubled and the selection are still similar to before?

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
1/5
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Sipagolda rated this place
1/5
and said Edit

This place was such a disappointment especially since I was really looking forward to going there. The tea was expensive and then incorrectly brewed. The staff stuck us in a corner and then ignored us. The so-called tea sommeliers knew nothing about the teas. And did I mention that the teas were were incredibly expensive!!! But they did have some lovely looking teas on the menu.

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
4/5
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leaf and root rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

This is a high end place, in cost and environs. It’s in the Park-Hyatt and you wouldn’t be out of place coming in with a suit and tie. I’ve been here twice and enjoyed it a great deal. If you want to talk tea, go on a weekend and ask to speak with the tea sommelier. (Some folks do not seem to like using the word sommelier to refer to anything but wine, but it seems to fit here and that was the term the Tea Cellar was using. However it seems they changed that to “Tea Expert” on their website so perhaps someone complained. I liked the idea of a Tea Sommelier.) Unfortunatley the average servers may not be knowledgeable in tea, but the sommelier/expert will answer any questions you have about the selection and make recommendations if you tell her or him your tastes. The first time I was there, the tea sommelier on duty was a young Japanese woman, who took many tea classes in Japan. She was soft-spoken but kind and helpful.

The selection of tea is very nice and they have several rare teas, and we had a sampler of three different pots. A simple pot isn’t too expensive but the bill can add up very quickly depending on your taste. There is a $300 pot of Puerh. We went with the less expensive cave-aged vintage reserve at about $25, though you can find many pots of greens or blacks at $8-15. The emphasis here is on the tea experience.

The Tea Cellar’s style and decor is very modern chic and sometimes there is a dessert bar. At times the service seemed slow, and I wasn’t certain whether we were actually being neglected or purposely left to quietly enjoy the tea. It was busy that day. Because of the cost, I will not go here frequently, but it was fun and I do recommend it for a bit of a posh kind of tea experience.

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
1/5
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the_skua rated this place
1/5
and said Edit

The cafe/dining/tea room was relatively empty and waitstaff lacking, so we had to hunt down a waiter and asked to sit for tea and to see the list of teas.

Blown away by the sheer expense of almost every tea on the list, including obscure white teas that quickly ran upwards of 20-30 dollars and vintage puerhs that ran up to 300, I selected the cheapest puerh, a 1999 tuocha, not realizing that it would probably be one of the mini-tuos we saw in the showcase. The description for the tea did not differentiate between sheng or shou (they did for others), so I asked our waiter if the 1999 tuocha was a green, or sheng, puerh, like the 2003 entry listed below it. He said, “Yes, that’s a green tea.” I should have left then and there, either that, or I should have made it clear that I knew a thing or two about tea, because I think he took me for sap. Instead, I thought, “Well, this is a well-established tea venue, I’ll take his word that it’s a green sheng.” He, however, must have thought, “This guy must want some green tea.”

What came out was a pot of Japanese Gyokuro. At this point, I gave up and just let the experience be what it was going to be. The tea was okay, with too hot water and too little leaf. I quickly blew out the tea candle that had been placed beneath the tea pot. We sat and drank the mediocre gyokuro and discussed our plans for the day. Fortunately, he didn’t bill us the listed $26 for gyokuro and we paid our bill and left. I should have known better.

There was something alluring and enjoyable about the room and what I had heard about the place, but, honestly, it’s obviously just a place to suck the wealthy dry of free cash for what they must be perceiving as the finest in tea. On top of the brainless service was the fact that the dining room was filthy. There was food smeared into the carpet that looked liked vomit and half of the tables were cluttered with dirty dishes. I just don’t understand how such a supposedly prestigious establishment (and I’m extending this to the Park Hyatt) can run such an embarrassing operation.

Full blog post: http://tea.theskua.com/?p=445

The Tea Cellar in Washington, District Of Columbia
4/5
Edit
takgoti rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

This place is a pinkies-out type of tea room. I love the aesthetic, so I’m all over it, but I can certainly see this being a not-for-everyone type of location.

The tea is pretty good. I have a feeling that the people there are pretty knowledgeable about the tea, but we were just there to drink tea and chat and catch up with each other, so we didn’t really take advantage of our server. Apparently, a tea master comes around and does tea tastings on occasion, so I’ve got my eye on nabbing a ticket [though it might be a while, as it runs something like $180 a head].

The tea itself actually isn’t terribly expensive, especially since they’ll continue filling your pot up with hot water so you can spend a good amount of time there. They do have some vintage pu-erhs that’ll put you back a bit, but we’ve got plans to go back and split a pot to cushion the blow. I had the Hidden Orchid Oolong and I thought it was pretty delicious. It ranked as my favorite among all the other teas our table had [Gyokuro, Genmaicha, Yerba Mate, and First Flush Darjeeling].

They also have a little spread of finger sandwiches and desserts. The watercress and creme fraiche sandwiches were particularly scrumptious. The hotel’s reputable Blue Duck Tavern is also adjacent to the Tea Cellar, if you find yourself hankering for a meal afterwards.

All in all, the space is absolutely gorgeous, if not necessarily applicable to all situations. I probably wouldn’t feel completely comfortable traipsing in with flip-flops and a ratty t-shirt, but this is also the type of place that I’d go to for the experience and I think that getting a little dressy supplements that. I’m putting some pictures up because really, my words can’t adequately describe the breathtaking atmospheric quality of the space. They are from my phone, so I apologize in advance for the fuzziness.

If you’re in the area, definitely consider dropping by here as it’s soooo pretty. They recommend making reservations, but the cap is for four people. It was a bit empty when we were there, so I’m not sure how busy it gets. The website also says that tea is served all day, but tea tables are only available for a couple of hours on the weekend. [I think they mean if you want to have a supervised tasting, but I’m not 100% positive.]