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New Info on WEEKDAY Afternoon Tea in Boston

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Trying to get a decent afternoon tea service for a birthday this Friday. Much of what has been posted on this topic before looks out of date. Here's what I do know:

-The Taj only starts serving afternoon tea on Friday's in March (currently only Sat and Sun).
-The Four Seasons serves it, but I am not impressed by their use of stainless steel teapots; food looks mediocre.
-Metropolitan at the Langham (not Fleuri) serves a modernized tea that looks unimpressive.
-Boston Harbor Hotel is not serving tea until April due to renovations.
-L'Espalier only serves their French version of tea on weekends, like the Taj.
-You must know someone to get into Athenaeum.
-Haven't been too impressed with reviews at Swans At Park Plaza.

At this point I am thinking that Novel in the Boston Public Library looks like the best overall for nice ambience and great tea (and china!).

Thoughts? What am I missing?

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  1. The Mandarin Oriental on Boylston serves an afternoon tea Thursday to Sunday from 2:30 pm to 4 pm.

    http://www.mandarinoriental.com/bosto...

    1 Reply
    1. re: viperlush

      MO looks interesting, but it also looks like a lobby lounge, unfortunately. A bit too modern for what I'm looking for though. I think I'll check out the Novel.

    2. If the birthday is for a younger one, Upstairs on the Square is serving a childrens vacation week tea this Friday from 2:30-4:30p
      http://www.upstairsonthesquare.com/ha...

      You left the Ritz Boston Common off your list, but like the Taj it's only on Saturday and Sunday, I believe.

      1. Park Plaza used to serve rare and refined teas (various parts of China, Japan, India); do they still do?

        3 Replies
        1. re: limster

          Yes, Swans Cafe at the PP. Heard it is also mediocre. Unless we hear strong objections here, I think we'll try Novel.

          1. re: tennisboy

            I hope you report back and let us know how it was.
            Good luck!

            1. re: tennisboy

              The food is very average at PP. But I've had carefully brewed teas (temperature, water quality etc.) there that aren't so easily found in Boston. Among other things, I had a very high quality scarlet robe from Wuyi mountains in Fujian that was grown very close to the original bushes and a very well aged pu-erh (15 years). If they're still doing that and if tea (rather than food) is a priority, it might be worth checking out.

          2. So we went to the Boston Public Library.

            In the more formal part of the dining room, where we were, there were only 3 other ladies there, and our server was very kind and accommodated our request to turn the table around so we had a better view of the beautiful courtyard. It's really a gorgeous building.

            Having had afternoon tea all over the world (the best being The Old Parsonage Hotel in Oxford, England, and The Empress in Victoria, Vancouver Island), we are pretty picky when it comes to tea. The actual tea (Earl Grey) was very good, and the scones and accompaniments (cream, excellent raspberry jam, and lemon curd - in most places usually get cream or curd, so having both was a bonus) were excellent!

            The sandwiches, sadly, were underwhelming (since when is a slice of cucumber with a mozzarella ball considered a sandwich?) and the sweets were not good (the tiny piece of chocolate cake was OK, though). There were many strawberry slices scattered around in the trays which was nice, however.

            I would go back to have the tea and scones only. It has a beautiful atmosphere, and the service was also excellent.

            4 Replies
            1. re: tennisboy

              Thanks for the report. Is it an option to just choose tea + scones? Also, is it clotted cream or just regular cream? Lastly, are the scones plain or do they come with raisins? What was the cost for the afternoon tea set?

              1. re: y2000k

                Yes
                Clotted
                Raisins/Currants
                $19.95 for it all, $15 for scones w/treats, $10 just scones

                1. re: tennisboy

                  Thank you so much! One more question if you don't mind: do you happen to know any place that serves plain scones (ie, without raisins)?

                  1. re: y2000k

                    This is not tea service but the Japonaise bakery on Beacon street makes a delicious plain scone. Theirs is a slightly different style, a bit more cake like, but I do love having a plain scone so I can add my own fruit and cream.

                    They also have a Porter Square Location.

                    Japonaise bakery
                    http://www.japonaisebakery.com/index....

            2. Hi Tennisboy,

              While Wednesday afternoon tea is for members and their guests (space is too limited to make it open to the public), new members are always welcome at the Boston Athenaeum.

              Thanks for the round up of places to go for tea. It's not in Boston, but I also like the Wenham Tea House for a low-key tea.

              Cheers,

              Kirsten Alexander
              Marketing & Communications Officer
              The Boston Athenaeum