Well scones actually. And finger sandwiches, soup, desserts, which means that I recently had afternoon tea. It’s something I used to do a lot more of, but lately it’s been a rare occasion and this one was definitely worth it. My good friend and I treated ourselves to an afternoon tea in Long Beach, CA at Vintage Tea Leaf.
Taking afternoon tea is about stopping for a moment and taking that time to enjoy the slow crawl of afternoon into evening. It was once a meal to enjoy between luncheon and supper since that was taken so late in the day, like a snack time. In England, especially during the Victorian Era, it was a social event to be asked to. There was a prestige to being invited to tea or being the hostess whose tea others wanted to be invited to. We don’t generally have tea parties in our homes now, but we can go to places like Vintage Tea Leaf to gather with friends and catch up, share our lives, and enjoy a moment out of time.
The beauty of it is that I saw ladies and gentlemen of all ages there. An entire group of young teenage girls were celebrating a friend’s birthday, the parents at a separate table enjoying their own tea service, groups came in and left either having full tea service or just a cup with some scones, the servers walked around to ensure we were all comfortable and getting our comestibles at the right time and even engaging in conversations with each table. The different conversations we were privy to…
Coffee houses serve the same purpose to an extent, but I associate them more with first dates, quick meetings, or a short catch-up session. Like the caffeine rush from coffee reflects the social situations that occur under it’s influence. But tea time…it’s to be savored and there is nothing like having a proper afternoon tea to really settle your spirit.
I first became aware of this place through one of my tea magazines – yes there is such a thing – and am so glad they did a spotlight on this place.
After walking in through a little gift shop you make your way back to shelves filled with teacups, because you get to choose your own cup. How awesome is that?!?!
Of course the problem with this is there are so many to choose from and what if you make the wrong decision? There’s a lot more pressure in picking the perfect vessel for your tea than having one provided for you. Ultimately I picked one that I feel clearly reflected me:
Reminds me of autumn in Scotland 🙂
The parlor itself is quite lovely
and I loved the Halloween/Fall decorations and mismatched furniture. After settling in and choosing my tea from the 130 offerings (130 different teas!) we peaked over and watched their preparation at the bar. A tea bar. A tea bartender. I think I’m in love.
Once we had our teas brought, mine a black tea with chocolate, raspberry and rum notes to it, and the first cup poured for us, I was ready to sit back and enjoy the afternoon repast.
Most places you have tea at will serve it on tiered trays with each course on a different tier, Vintage Tea Leaf might do this for certain tea services, but the one I chose came in courses.
A caramel pecan scone and a ginger pear scone served with clotted cream and lemon curd. The scones were slightly sweet, but not like a dessert, and just the perfect consistency. The cream was the perfect amount of decadence that cut the sweet of the scone and the tart of the lemon curd. I will say that the lemon curd didn’t necessarily pair well with the pecan scone, but the cream went with everything.
Soup or salad. Of course being me the moment I heard the magic words “Pumpkin Soup” there was no other choice.
It was tasty, and more on the savory side which was a nice change after the sweeter scones.
Tea sandwiches. They give you several options and you get to choose three. I chose the requisite cucumber along with a chicken salad and a cheese and apple combo.
The chicken salad with tarragon was lovely. The cucumber was good but nothing different. The apple one had blue cheese on it, which I am not a fan of at all, but I felt like they were light handed enough with that so that it didn’t overpower the apple.
Dessert: My friend and I decided to get one of each of their selections of the day and share. I got the Pecan Cake with a Caramel sauce and she got the Apple Crumble.
The caramel sauce was lovely but the cake was a little dry and just alright. The crumble on the other hand was sooo tasty!
All in all it was 2 wonderful hours of feasting and drinking enough tea to make your insides swim. We’re already making plans to go during the Christmas season to see how they decorate the parlor and what seasonal goodies they will serve.
If you’re in Long Beach and have a couple of hours to spare I highly recommend going to the Vintage Tea Leaf.
Share on Facebook