Time for Tea

My girlfriends and I love tea. Especially the accompanying scones with clotted cream and jam, little pastries, and savory sandwiches. There’s nothing like getting a sugar rush and a caffeine high at one sitting! As opposed to the sometimes harried pace of holiday reservations at restaurants, tea is designed to let you linger. It’s the perfect relaxed get-together. For that reason it’s also wildly popular this time of year – we couldn’t even get reservations this month at the venerable Four Seasons in Georgetown. But luckily we decided to take the plunge and try a new spot this past Saturday, the Jefferson Hotel, which turned out to be perfect.

The Jefferson is a lovely boutique hotel at 16th and M Streets. Tea is served in the lounge, with regal red walls and a distinctly “Ol’ Virginia Hunt Country” feel. We were lucky to have a private room all to ourselves, with Mr. Jefferson himself holding court in the form of a letter signed with a flourish on the wall. There was a good selection of teas, ranging from black to green to herbal, and the nibbles were divine – savory sandwiches of cucumber, duck, egg, and salmon; three tiers of pastries (“we have plenty,” our smiling waiter teased, “please ask for more whenever you like.”); but the standout definitely was the basket of piping hot currant scones. Brought out at precisely the right time, after a necessary lull that followed our ravenous devouring of the sammies and pastries, we all agreed that they were the best scones of any afternoon tea we had tried in Washington.

There was initially some debate as to whether the Jefferson would unseat our previous favorite, the Four Seasons. But we eventually agreed that the “old country” atmosphere of the Jefferson helped emerge it as the winner. Though Four Seasons has outstanding service and noshes, it’s a bit too modern and not nearly intimate enough in that glass-windowed lounge.

For a completely different take on afternoon tea, the girls and I agree that you should try the luscious Ching Ching Cha. It’s a Chinese tea room in Georgetown where you can loll around on satin pillows while being gently educated on the many rituals of Chinese tea. They have a tasty selection of goodies and a beautiful gift shop where you can get elaborate tea sets. With a luminous skylight and quiet music, it’s one of the most relaxing places for tea in DC.

Ah tea. Here’s looking forward to the next outing!

2 Comments so far

  1. amy (unregistered) on December 12th, 2005 @ 3:04 pm

    As I personally devoured several of those yummy scones in quick time, I can attest to their scrumptuousness. Is that even a word? If it isn’t, it should be one — just to describe the hot scones and clotted cream.

  2. Greta (unregistered) on December 13th, 2005 @ 9:50 am

    mmmmmm I didn’t know scones could be so good… it’s a good thing they don’t sell them to go or I’d have more holiday pounds to shed.

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