Afternoon tea is a chance to drop the cares of the world and, for at least one golden hour, share a gracious little meal rich in tradition.
Here are five places where you can make tea time your own:
When/Where: Saturdays from 3 to 5 p.m. A plush, comfortable room with an equine theme and autumnal color scheme.
Chef Steven DeBruyn offers three options: the "traditional" tea ($29) of assorted sandwiches (smoked salmon, egg salad, cucumber mint and smoked ham and asparagus, scones and Devonshire cream with house-made preserves, assorted tea breads and miniature pastries. The "chocolate" tea ($34) features Callebaut hot chocolate as well as tea sandwiches, scones, chocolate pastries, bonbons and truffles. Finally, the "royal" tea ($39) includes everything in the "traditional" version plus a glass of Champagne with fresh strawberries and crème Chantilly.
When/Where: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop features a cozy storefront with pink walls and feminine touches: flowers, dolls, candles and even a Victorian settee.
Tea service ($18.95 per person; $29.95 for two) includes a pot of freshly brewed loose tea and a tiered platter of small sandwiches, two per person; choices include tomato and vegetable cream on whole wheat, and egg salad with baby spinach on croissant. There also are scones and pastries from the nearby Spiga bakery.
When/Where: Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday 10 to 6; Sunday 11 to 5; closed Mondays. Decor includes lace curtains, floral tablecloths, lots of flower arrangements, teapots and cups, which are for sale.
Tea service includes pot of freshly brewed loose tea and tiered plate of house-made scones, clotted cream, raspberry preserves, assorted finger sandwiches (ham salad, tuna salad, cucumber), assorted pastries (vanilla custard tart, white chocolate mousse in chocolate candy shell) and petits fours.
Tab $25 a person
When/Where: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Half retail tea store, half sit-down restaurant, this comfortable spot has a sunny English look, with yellow striped wallpaper and Bentwood chairs.
Tea service includes a three-tiered plate featuring scones with jam and cream, assorted tea sandwiches, miniature pastries, fresh fruit and cream, accompanied by a pot of freshly brewed loose tea. $25.75 for two.
When/Where: Daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A tasteful space with lots of polished wood and a contemporary French feel.
Tea service, $16 a person, includes a tiered plate holding miniature sandwiches (among them a light and tangy cucumber and crème fraîche combo), house-made scones and miniature pastries courtesy of pastry chef-owner Emily Tso. A pot of freshly brewed loose tea accompanies.
Call 24 hours in advance to reserve tea for two or more (private parties, too) at this atmospheric space.
When/Where: Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 2:30 p.m. Take tea in the library of Westbrook, the 1886 Victorian estate of William Bayard Cutting. The book-lined room overlooks the Connetquot River.
A tiered platter holds mini sandwiches (a layered "ribbon" sandwich of ham salad and scallion cream cheese, turkey with cranberry mayo, date nut cream cheese on cinnamon-raisin bread, egg salad with sprouts and cucumber with dill), scones with cream and jam and assorted desserts and pastries, most house-made. Cost is $25.95 a person (plus a 20 percent gratuity).