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Afternoon tea? Rose Tree Cottage?

My mom is in town this Sunday and I want to take her to tea - I thought the Ritz in Pasadena would be perfect but they are booked the entire day. I saw an old post re the Rose Tree Cottage and booked it, but then I read several posts saying it was awful, went downhill, etc. Anyone been there recently? I am wondering if I should cancel.

I prefer not to go to go to Beverly Hills/Bel-Air, so that eliminates most of the great tea spots. When I did tea at the Huntington Library, it was buffet-style (for food) in a huge room, which is not the atmosphere I am looking for.

If Rose Tree is bad, any other suggestions? How is the atmosphere/food quality at the Tea Rose Garden in Pasadena? I also saw that mentioned in a post or 2.

Thanks in advance! My mom has very high standards for tea--she always takes me when I'm back east--so I want to be sure to pick a winner.

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  1. Personally, I love Rose Tree Cottage. I have not been in over a year, but I think if you want the "real deal" this is it - complete with the VERY British owner in tux and tails. My mom's friend was a little miffed that you did not get to choose the tea (they serve their own house blend) but my mom and I both LOVED it. If you plan on going, and seeing them in their current adorable courtyard setting, you will want to do so soon since they are being forced to move out to make way for some "affordable housing". Reservations are needed as they fill up on the weekends and only do 2 or 3 seatings a day.


    3 Replies
    1. re: WildSwede

      Considering going there (finally) later this month -- with an out-of-town friend who's an afternoon tea aficionado; wondering about price of afternoon tea there (can't find through search; and surprisingly their Web site didn't list which always raise a yellow flag for budget-minded me).


      1. re: AquaW

        I believe it's $30 plus champagne (they have a tasty almond champagne), tax and tip for the five-course tea (strawberries, scones, sandwiches, sorbet and petits fours). You should call and ask.

    2. Jin Patisserie is pretty good, but it might not be as formal as what you are looking for.

      1. I have only been there once, it's okay, nothing that exciting.

        1. It's not nearly the Ritz, but the tea at the Pacific Dining Car is actually quite nice, and doesn't generally require reservations. It's very old school and peaceful if you're into that (which my grandmother is), and will do quite nicely in a pinch and don't have either the forethought or opportunity to make reservations weeks ahead of time.

          Actually, I have reservations to my grandmother to tea at the Peninsula on Sunday, and I can't believe I had to make the reservation a month ago.

          1. Okay, Chowhound staffers, delete again if you must.

            I think the tea itself is better at the Ritz, but Rose Tree is probably the most British tea place/shop around. British luminaries visit them when in so cal. And so your mom will experience the last of a little bit of history.

            however, the tea area is very small, not sure if it's cramped bc they block it from view.

            1 Reply
            1. re: slacker

              How does the Rose Tree Cottage compare to the Tea Rose Garden, also in Pasadena?

            2. Here's a sure bet to make mom happy, the Scarlet Tea Room on Green street at Fair Oaks in Pasadena. Great overall experience, and they only do tea service on Sundays. Highly recommended.

              3 Replies
              1. re: gordita

                That sounds great, but unfortunately, the website says Sunday is for private parties only.

                1. re: meganinlosfeliz

                  I know that they will take other reservations other than private parties, I'm going to call Karen the owner for you and see if she can take you.

                  1. re: meganinlosfeliz

                    Karen can take you at 11am or 3:30, tell her your the friend Karin was just asking for.

                2. What about Chado Tea Room?

                  1. I was at Rose Tree this week and I really enjoyed it; the sandwiches are excellent, the scones are awesome, and they use high quality devon cream. That said, I didn't love the tea that they used; it was a bit too tannic for me. What they do is keep one pot going for the whole tea room, whihc is pretty smart. I'd go but suggest asking for a different kind of tea than they're serving.

                    Also, you need to book one week in advance, but I bet if you call they might let you in.

                    1. Can't comment on rose tree cottage or scarlet tea room yet, have yet to go- how are the prices?

                      Tea Rose Garden - I like this place a lot, but not particularly formal, and it's a small dining area, made even more crampy if there's a bridal/baby shower going on (pretty regularly.) One of the few places that let you choose your own scones.

                      Chado - meh! The 200+ varieties of tea is a nice draw, but almost all their teas are very bland - and the experience isn't particularly special.

                      Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena - very nice environment, and food's not bad (when I went, last summer) ~ but pretty steep on the price (35/pp, which I guess is comparable to other hotel teas) and I heard that the pastries is no longer made in-house.

                      Jin Patisserie - I love this place - but as noted above, the setup is more contemporary-fusion than traditional-British ~ the dining area's out doors so not as fun on chillier days.


                      1. I wouldn't recommend Rose Tree Cottage, although it's been a while since I was there. Service was terrible, no choice of tea.

                        I like Chado, but it's not a particularly "special" atmosphere. It's one of the few places I can order pu-erh!

                        Doesn't the Huntington have a tea room?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LBeff

                          The OP already mentioned not caring for Huntington's Tea Room (I didn't either - the buffet style service only meant hordes of people lining up all the time and having to get up a lot 'cause of the small plates, not exactly an afternoon tea experience - and the food/tea didn't wow me either.)


                          1. re: AquaW

                            ^ ditto to all of the above. I used to make it a part of any visit to the Huntington Gardens but now I go elsewhere.

                        2. Have you looked into the scarlet tea room in Pasadena? I love that place. It is very girlie and the service is great!! All the friends I took there love that place.
                          Their website is:

                          18 W Greene St, Pasadena

                          1. Try out the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre on Baldwin. It's really a cute place with very reasonable tea. Their scones are really good.

                            As for Huntington - don't care for the food or buffet style.

                            Rose Tree - just OK

                            Chado - OK food, great selection of teas, boring atmosphere

                            Scarlett Tea Room - good food - have other selections such as salads/sandwiches, OK selection of teas, pretty atmosphere (no teas on Sunday - only for private parties)

                            Hope this helps.

                            1. I'm late to the party on this post, but want to say the tea at The Raymond Restaurant is very nice, although the days and hours are limited.