9 Inventive Spins on Afternoon Tea

Looking at the way countries around the world do tea

Places around the world are putting together some creative afternoon tea celebrations.

We’re obsessed with the timeless elegance of afternoon tea, and it seems that there are various traditions for afternoon tea around the world. A special treat for the classiest of connoisseurs, we enjoy the experience as much for the atmosphere as for the delicious treats and teas. However, there are a few spots around the globe that are making our favorite hot beverage even more fabulous with some truly inventive twists on afternoon tea!

Chocolate Tea

Photo Credit: The Langham Hotel

The chocolate lovers among us are beside ourselves since we learned that Langham Huntington Hotel Pasadena holds a “Tiffin Chocolate Tea” event, where you can enjoy a classic afternoon tea with a chocolaty spin. All the savory tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream, fruit tarts, mousse torts, and crème brûlées contain different essences of chocolate! The grand spectacle is topped off with an epic chocolate fountain and surrounding chocolate sculptural art. 

Vintage Tea
Sofitel Philadelphia's Liberté Lounge offers a vintage inspired, French tea service served in their ultra-chic, contemporary lounge right in the heart of bustling Center City Philadelphia. Executive chef Justin Perdue skillfully prepares classic tea sandwiches, such as egg salad on white Pullman bread, as well as interesting diversions such as cucumber and mint tea hummus or smoked salmon with horseradish mayo on pumpernickel. Liberté's team of pastry aficionados have crafted a scone and pastry menu fit for a queen, featuring warm seasonal scones with double Devonshire cream and preserves, royal chocolate petit fours, and pear financiers.

Alice in Wonderland-Themed Tea

Photo credit: Katie Goldstein

Travel writer Katie Goldstein experienced an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea at the Sanderson hotel in London. Their aptly named Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea invites guests to "tumble down the rabbit hole" and enjoy the wonderful world of tea. It’s a tea of fun and whimsy, where guests enjoy sweets like “strawberries and cream homemade marshmallow mushrooms,” a carrot meringue served on a bed of pea shoots, a “Tick Tock” traditional Victoria sponge clock, and a melting mango cheesecake coated in rainbow-patterned white chocolate. You can also have a taste of Jelly Wonderland!

Time Travel Tea
Pickwick Society TeaRoom, Gifts & Antiques, in Frankfort, Ill., offers six annual Timely Tea events featuring fictional and historical characters discussing their life and times and taking questions from the audience. This is paired with an Afternoon Tea that is customized to that particular time period. Some tea themes include Mary Todd Lincoln, Dolly Madison, Jackie Kennedy, and “Nostalgic Christmas”! 

Fashionable Tea

Photo Credit: Berkeley Hotel in London 

For a couture tea, the Berkeley Hotel in London’s "Prêt-à-Portea" is designed for the fashion crowd, featuring original cakes and pastries that take the form of edible handbags, stilettos, dresses, and much more. It's consistently hailed as one of the best high tea experiences in London, says travel writer Travis Levius of travel blog Mister Levius. ( http://misterlevius.com).

Southern Tea

Photo Credit: Sea Island

Sea Island, the five-star resort located on Georgia’s coast, puts a Southern spin on high tea, calling it “a classical tradition redefined.” Some examples of the Southern twists are: Georgia shrimp salad, Bibb lettuce on wheat bread, maple glazed ham, brie, apple on white bread, and Pimento cheese on white bread. High Tea is held at The Lodge at Sea Island, one of the resort’s accommodations, which is modeled to resemble an old English manor.

Artsy Tea
The highly coveted Art Tea at The Merrion Hotel in Dublin is inspired by the hotel's own extensive art collection. The in-house pastry chefs created Art Tea, a witty interpretation of pieces by contemporary Irish artists whose works hang throughout The Merrion's four Georgian townhouses. Ranging from Mainie Jellett's Madonna and Child to Pauline Bewick's Path Moorea, the works of art have been chosen by the pastry chefs. Each painting hangs in the front hall and reception area or in the classically elegant Georgian Drawing Rooms where afternoon tea is served. Guests usually linger, as the Art Tea is served course by course to enhance the leisurely indulgence.

Japanese Tea

Photo Credit: Intercontinental Hong Kong

Exclusive to NOBU at InterContinental Hong Kong, the new “T-Set” is a twist on the time-honored tradition of afternoon tea. A selection of innovative Japanese savory umami dishes and sweet items are served alongside fine Rishouen green teas. Guests enjoy eight unique dishes and unparalleled views across Victoria Harbor.

Room Service Tea


The Cromwell, which recently opened up in Las Vegas, is working with Art of Tea's Master Tea Blender Steve Schwartz for a special tea program at the hotel. As part of their "turn-up" in-room dining service, they are offering guests full tea service in the room; that’s right, guests can have their tea prepared bedside by a dedicated server.