Philadelphia’s relationship with tea is nothing short of historical, with the Philadelphia Tea Party — when American colonists forced an intercepted British ship to return home — taking place a full two months prior to the famous Boston Tea Party in 1773. The City of Brotherly Love is now a haven for lovers of tea, and while aficionados can get their fix of this time-honored beverage at any number of local restaurants and cafes, there are a number of tea houses and shops that serve up an exceptional blend. Whether you plan to celebrate a special occasion or simply wish to meet up with family and friends, we think you’ll agree that these top tea shops in Philadelphia are spot on when it comes to service and product.
124 S. 18th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Located in the heart of Philadelphia, this Rittenhouse gastropub blends cozy and hip with Old World charm. The Dandelion is known for serving up tasty, traditionally British classics — in some cases, with an American twist — like shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash and that classic favorite from across the pond of fish ‘n chips. While popular for its food and cocktails, afternoon tea, which is served daily from 3 to 5 p.m., is also a big draw. Tea is ordered from a special afternoon tea menu that features an assortment of fine teas as well as cocktails and specialty soft drinks like Fentimans Rose Lemonade and FeverTree Tonic. Menu items include ample servings of savory fare and an assortment of delicious desserts, including sticky-toffee pudding and a well-appointed tea cookie plate that arrives at the table laden with a variety of shortbread biscuits and scones.
The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop
713 N. 4th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Touted as a place for restoring one’s spirit and wowing the palate, The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop serves up artisanal teas and house-blended herbal infusions. Whether stopping by for a spot of tea with friends, or celebrating a special occasion in style, patrons find themselves enveloped in “a whimsical selection of sensory delight.” The menu boasts international teas from around the world, and for the tea aficionado there are also an assortment of trinkets, tea accessories and hand-crafted jewelry available for purchase. Themed musical events are common in this venue, and the art gracing the walls, many visitors are pleased to find, is that of local artists. The star attraction, of course, is the selection of teas, which include over 40 delicious varieties to choose from.
Ray’s Cafe and Tea House
141 N. 9th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Find someone who knows coffee in Philadelphia and you’re likely to hear rave reviews about Rays Cafe and Tea House in Chinatown. In addition to the coffee, which is brewed via siphon to extract the full flavor of the grind, this eatery also pours an exquisite cup of tea, with a variety of premium black, green and herbal teas to choose from. Served up with a smile, patrons rave over the fare, calling Rays Cafe and Tea House the best restaurant in Chinatown, serving up a veritable cornucopia of fine coffees and teas, as well as an assortment of bubble teas in addition to delectable, authentic Chinese fare, which is all prepared sans MSG and trans fats.
Related: Top Coffee Shops For Work Or Studying In Philadelphia
The Rittenhouse Hotel
210 W. Rittenhouse Square
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Afternoon Tea at the Mary Cassatt Tea Room in the historic, grand, Rittenhouse Hotel is a time-honored tradition for many who live in the Philadelphia area, and an unforgettable treat for visitors who discover the charm of partaking in the age-old tradition of high tea in this most elegant of settings. This venue celebrates the traditions of the great tea cultures while adding a splash of local flavor along with a bit of whimsy and imagination. Traditional afternoon tea is served daily from 2 to 5 p.m. in a well-appointed setting that abounds withe elegance and charm. Traditional afternoon tea, served up in style, includes savory pastries, fresh-baked scones and a wide assortment of teas. During the holiday season the hotel also serves a “Teddy Bear Tea,” which includes a complimentary Teddy Bear and lunch for your little ones that can be ordered from a specially-themed, child-friendly menu.
The Talking Tea Cup
301 W. Butler Ave.
Chalfont, PA 18914
The Talking Tea Cup in Chalfont is brimming with charm and character. Regular patrons of the 250-year-old farmhouse turned tea shop keep coming back for the attentive service dished up and the friendly atmosphere of this quaint, country cottage. The fare, which is simple and plentiful, includes scones, sandwiches and an assortment of desserts, but the highlight is, hands down, the tea. Whether you visit for breakfast, lunch or high tea, you will undoubtedly be impressed with the vast selection — more than 100 varieties — of tea to choose from. From delicate to decadent and everything in between, tea is the star at The Talking Tea Cup. Open Tuesday through Sunday, this tea shop serves lunch daily and breakfast on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.