Tea Up

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Slim Paley photo

Vintage feather earrings rest upon a teacup amongst my  tea dresses

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You might recall that a few posts back, en route to N.Y.,  I’d asked for suggestions for great places to enjoy afternoon tea.  Unfortunately  Father Time, the ultimate task master, afforded only one rather rushed late afternoon tea at The St. Regis Hotel.  I must say the tea itself was wonderful; robust and malty, just how I like it. The scones and clotted cream were also delicious, although I do fancy the option of marmalade as well as a berry jam and lemon curd, but perhaps that’s just me.  The sandwiches were good, not great and the petit-fours just so-so.  Given the surroundings and a nod to civility, I wasn’t really able to snap more than a few very quick pics (I felt a bit like an effete spy) but I’m sorry to report the most disappointing aspect of  tea at “Astor Court” was the lack of atmosphere.  The room was poorly lit, felt like it had seen better times and dare I share the worst crime of all, especially in N.Y.; no good people watching/eavesdropping  unintentionally overheard conversations!

I love any good tea, don’t get me wrong, even if I’m tea-ing it up by myself I’m more than happy, just as long as I have a little distraction here and there.The tea room at The Ritz was so dark I couldn’t even pull out my book to save myself.

Alas, the next time my travels take me to Gotham I’m going to be consulting your list again.

 So as I lovingly gather up my collection of vintage and antique tea dresses to be stored away  for yet another season, I thought it would be fun to share all your suggestions in a compiled list  for everyone’s convenience and we can enjoy a cuppa together, shall we?

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Slim Paley photo

Ethereal confections from days gone by…

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Slim Paley photo

Confections of a different sort;

the insanely tantalizing macaroons from Laduree, who have just opened there first stateside shop in NYC, though as yet, with no tea room- whatupwithat??

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Slim Paley photo

Not gonna lie, I do like my tea slightly milkier than this but for posh-posing reasons I took the photo with it a little under-milked.  

I know it’s even more raffine’ to take it with lemon- I guess I’m just an old builder at heart :)

My favourite everyday tea is “PG Tips” but I stock up on “M & S Extra Strong, Extra Malty” whenever I’m in London.

Mariage  Freres, purveyors of certainly some of the most beautifully packaged and merchandised teas in the world, make these positively sumptuous teapot cozies in several colours, including chartreuse, silver and black.  

Paging “Downton Abbey”….

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via Australian Vogue

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Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

Me, in the St. Regis.  Sort of. 

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Slim Paley photo

Gossamer memories, practically  floating away

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Slim Paley photo

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OK, back to food!  

I love a good pimento & cream cheese tea sandwich, and this one looks like it might also have dried apricots- yum!

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recipe for Red Prince Apple Gem Scones via www.redprinceapple.ca

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Although not tradtional, I would most assuredly be overcome with an attack of the vapours if ever this was brought to the table for an afternoon tea

How gorgeous!

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Slim Paley photo

My scone at the Ritz, which was actually not nearly as dry as it looks here.  I told you the lighting was bad!

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Slim Paley Photo

Silly me, I forgot to put my favourite dress in the first photo, the black silk organza on the left with hand painted sprigs of flowers.  I bought it a million years ago in Bath, England.

I practically wept when I saw it.  

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Slim Paley Photo

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Fraises de Bois tart from the Laduree cookbook “Sucre” which I’ve mentioned a couple of times before.

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Slim Paley photo

“Scone Condiments” at Astor Court

Which begs the question, the cream or the confiture first??  (Obviously my previous photo gives my choice away)

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Slim Paley photo

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Slim Paley photo

Is it a tad high-waisted on me? Yes. Does pride feel any pain?? I think we all know the answer to that.

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Slim Paley photo

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My conservatory set for a morning tea

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Slim Paley photo

I also love savoury sandwiches like these ones from the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, one of my favourite hotels in the world (the old wing, of course :) )

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Via “Sucre”

Please, if we ever have tea, just do NOT serve me Madeleines.  

Seriously- the most boring, over-rated petit-four ever in my humble opinion.

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Tea in N.Y.

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Cafe Sabarsky on 5th

Alice’s Tea Cup

Bergdorf Goodman’s Upstairs

The Plaza

Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon at Irving Place

Tea & Sympathy, Greenwich Village

The Carlyle

The Waldorf Astoria

The Mark (Tea by Jean George)

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Please feel free to add to the list!

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Shall I take out my flask?! :)

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46 thoughts on “Tea Up

  1. Beautiful post, Slim. I LOVE to take tea! I have many times enjoyed tea at the Plaza in New York, but that has been years. The Ritz in London for a very civilized, formal tea, or Fortnum and Mason for something quicker and a bit more relaxed are both delicious. I also highly recommend the Windsor Court in New Orleans for their champagne tea. A glass of lovely champagne WITH all the tea accoutrements is over the top delicious!

    I like cream, then confiture, raspberry being my favorite.

    And I also have the same splendid cupcake/rose tower in my photo file!

  2. Who doesn’t feel like a cup of tea after reading this post? :)
    My kettle is about to whistle.
    Confession: I am not wearing a beautiful vintage tea frock . . . it’s more of a stretchy gym shorts and big running shoes type of a day for moi.

    Best Afternoon Tea in Vancouver? The Wedgewood Hotel. We are talking spectacular.
    (Little bonus FYI: the bar in this hotel also serves the coldest, biggest and most delicious vodka martini in the city.)

    I cannot report that the Empress Hotel in Victoria serves a beautiful tea anymore. It’s more of a tourist attraction these days.

    Best Afternoon Tea ever? Harrod’s 4th floor, a million years ago with one of my most precious friends in the world.
    xoxo

  3. A beautiful post! That incredible collection of twenties tea gowns, lilacs, macaroon from Laduree — who could ask for more. Afternoon tea is my favorite “meal” of day. Best people watching I’ve ever had at teatime was Claridge’s London some years ago. Every afternoon two Arab princesses would return from a day of shopping fully covered, get rid of their little guard who carried the bag of money after he’d checked to see the room was free of males, removed the burkas the minute he was gone revealing skimpy Ungaro brightly printed very short dresses and lots of jewelry, take out their cigarettes and settled in for some gossiping fun. Only wish I’d understood!

  4. That is one of the loveliest post about tea and romance I’ve ever seen. Your photography is so beautifully done and presented, and I simply love your primo vintage silk chiffon tea dresses, being a collector of antique clothing myself. Each of your photographs take us back to a place of time that was so romantic and charming.

    The last photo of the tea cup, with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) sparkling inside of it, was amazing….I don’t know how you came up with that one, it’s beyond clever and fun.

    Thank you for all the daily enjoyment, ideas and eye delights. mari

    • Thank you Mari!
      I can’t take credit for the sparkling teacup though- The last two images are from Tumblr and I thought they were fun :)

  5. Oh my your conservatory is a vision just love it. I have always been a fan of
    shield back chairs they look so fresh in white. Did you find them that way or did
    you have them painted?

  6. Believe it or not, my favorite places to have tea are in California: the Rose Garden Tea Room at Huntington Library and the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point.

    Gorgeous dresses, Slim.

  7. Lauduree in Paris is my fav. The line at lunch a block long just for the take out of their yummy pastries. I ate in their new “neptune” fantasy room. The upstairs dining room is stuck in time of the 1930′s with velvet and trims. Love Love love this place.

  8. This will be one of my all time favorite Slimmy posts. Perfect all round. In agreement on the Madeleines, too.

  9. ahhhhhh….so lovely! headed straight off to make a cuppa jasmine tea…my fave. now if only i had some of those macaroons….yum. thanks again slim!
    xx

  10. Enjoyed the lovely photos even though I have never had a cup of tea. At age 5 a babysitter forced me to drink iced tea which I promptly gave back to her (slightly used)…..The lovely tea gowns look like ghosts in these photos …am feeling nostaglic for the golden days of wearing nothing but dresses. Beautiful post as always.

  11. Love your post. Lovely dresses too! I’ll be attending the afternoon tea by the sea at Getty Museum Villa in Malibu this weekend. The menu is prepared using ingredients from their authentic 1st century Roman gardens.

    Looking forward to the Mediterranean inspired tea. Will let you know.

  12. Great Post ! LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE those dresses. Ah .. love! I crave the Earl Grey that they have at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC .. you can buy it on line and if you are a fan of the “EG” I promise a home run.

  13. Oh Slim. Thank you for taking me back to my very first tea at the Dorchester in 1974. I remember ordering more cream for the scones. Twice.

  14. You have wonderful taste in tea. Builder´s tea is the best of all – it keeps builders going for godness sake. Need a better recommendation? I think not. The very best bulder´s tea I know is Yorkshire Tea – and if you can find it, Yorkshire Gold. I know you will love it. And if you ever find yourself in Yorkshire I recommend a visit to the home of Yorkshire Tea, Betty´s tearooms in Harrogate: http://www.bettys.co.uk/bettys_harrogate.aspx
    Sadly, in the part of Sweden where I live, there are no tearooms at all.

  15. Such lovely images and commentary. The gossamer dresses are fabulous as is your table setting in the conservatory. I am a coffee fan, but I do have a large collection of antique tea cups, teapots and dessert plates for the occasional (read “rare”) afternoon teas I like to host. Earl Grey, please, with a touch of honey. Thanks for the NYC list and have a great day.
    Best…Victoria

  16. Whenever I find myself near a Laduree, I order a box of one of each (un de chaque!) and my hubby and I nibble on them for days. Just Heaven!

  17. Dear Slim,
    Your tea dresses are excruciatingly lovely and worthy to be wept over. They look especially delicate contrasted with the dark wood of your mahogany dressing room – brilliant!

    In Boston, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Arlington Street provided the finest experience for afternoon tea for many years. I used to take my children there after a swan boat ride at the Public Garden. In 2006, the Ritz-Carlton sold the grande dame hotel on Arlington Street to the India based Taj Hotel group. The Ritz built a new hotel on Avery Street and still serves a decent tea. However, the Taj has continued the tea tradition in its finest form.

    The Boston Teacup reviewers write:
    “The Taj is still very much the Ritz in style, grandeur and attitude. This is where you would expect to get a great afternoon tea, with top-notch service and surrounded by expensive antiques and living ones too. They’ve been serving here since 1927! Tea at the Ritz… it’s the classic phrase. It doesn’t quite sound as good to say Tea at the Taj, but rest assured that Indians are tea lovers through and through.

    Afternoon tea is served on Wednesday to Sunday at 2 pm and 4 pm sittings, and it’s wise to make a booking. It is served on the first floor, so enter through the front door and take the grand spiral staircase up to the high-ceilinged lounge adorned with traditional artwork and bedecked with antique furniture. A harpist plays and the window seats look out over Newbury St below and the Gardens across Arlington St.”

    If you’re ever in Boston, try tea at the Taj!

    All the best, Ruth

  18. I wish you were here in Lexington Kentucky, so you could join us at Greentree Tea Room, it is simply wonderful and beautiful. You would love it and we will have a cuppa for you, This was a wonderful post, I am a real afternoon tea lover. It is part of my daily regime.

  19. Such beautiful dresses Slim and I am sure you look gorgeous in any of them. I miss a good dress, no-tan legs (no, self-tanner doesn’t work either) have necessitated this rule. Come to think of it, I am downright Victorian. Perhaps I should drink more tea? Much love. XO

  20. I spy ethereal polka-dotted frock also! After reading through this my one non-tea thought was that I hope, for you, that your sons bring young women into your life that enjoy your sense of beauty and whimsy.

    My mother was born in Ireland so I have tea ritual (hots the pot!) in my DNA. I have a tea tray on my desk each morning and like to make fun and pretty tea cozies to keep myself amused.

    Thanks for sharing another glimpse of some private beauty.

  21. Slim – I dig you so!! The dresses are so beautiful. And I grew up with tea (Irish grandparents) everyday of my life. I can’t image managing past the 3:00 hour with out a cup of tea. Lovely post.

  22. Simply lovely, Slim!

    I was reminded of taking tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria BC in the spring of 1971 with my favorite aunt and uncle. Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Princess Anne had come for a visit to celebrate the bi-centennial, and the whole city was brushed and fluffed and so lovely with tulips and flowering trees blooming everywhere.

    The Royal Family arrived and departed on The Britannia; and naval officers patroled the water surrounding it in little speedboats, laughingly returning kisses flung to them by the teenaged girl who was so enchanted by the pagentry, the hospitality and the fun felt by everyone throughout the city. Mounted Police in bright uniforms added to the color and to the excitement in the air. A magical time.

  23. Oh, how sad about your feelings toward Madeleines. I had some made by a young girl who insisted on true farm butter, farm eggs and probably special flour. I was given six and after the first, there was no thought of saving the rest. I suspect that in spite of your travels and your incursions into the best stores for everything and anything, you have been deprived of truly fine Madeleines. I have to admit that I have never had anything quite like that box of six.

    Your dresses are more than beautiful. The black one is a work of artisan magic and I’m glad you treat it as such; it’s in good hands.

  24. I collect English teacups and chintzware and the beautiful cup you have at the beginning of your post is a pattern that I don’t recognize. Would you be willing to share the name of the pattern? Thanks! Love your photography. Every post has something amazing to look at… :-)

  25. What a coincidence! This posting just came right in time :-) I’ll be in London for a day next week waiting on my flight to Budapest and have made reservations for an Afternoon Tea at Fortnum and Mason in London…hope there won’t be any madeleines served. Thanks Slim Paley, I always enjoy your postings.

  26. Oh how I love afternoon tea, and when we were in NYC last Thanksgiving, Kristy and I had tea at BG Restaurant at Berdorf’sf and it was lovely. Beautiful photos – especially love the one of all of your gorgeous dresses!

  27. I love your dresses!!! A gorgeous collection. And I would surgically lower my waist to be able to fit into your favorite black organza one.

  28. Being half English I’ve tea in my genetic makeup. It reminded me of a lovely time in my life when I had tea at the Ritz in London with my family for my 60th birthday. Loved this blog with its fabulous photography and I swooned over the tea dresses – just beautiful. Thank you Slim for keeping this aspect of gentler times alive. I think I’ll make tea sandwiches for dinner tonight!

  29. Wow, the dishes at your tea looked so much like mine I had to get a saucer out. Not an exact match, but mine has the same flavor. Tea is wonderful; but having a good tea is sometimes hard, as you found out. Much prefer the one you show in your conservatory!

  30. A lovely tea room if you are ever in Pasadena….The Scarlett Tea Room
    http://www.scarlettearoom.com/

    As well, one can spend a lovely afternoon enjoying tea at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena…formerly the Huntington Hotel.

    Lovely post, Slim. Always enjoy your work.

  31. I haven’t been to a good tea room in too too many years. Best teas are in the sitting or living rooms of my English friends who, even stateside, manage to brew a perfect cuppa! Earl Grey from Harrod’s, of course….always begging friends to bring it back for me… Your dresses are ethereal!

  32. Slim, coffee is still king in NY but my vote for tea in the city is Cafe Sabarsky–the room itself is perfection and I could never turn down a good German strudel! Cheers! Barbara

  33. The Muffin Man in London is nice, especially if you want to sink into a scone but aren’t especially “gussied up.” The pumpkin scones at Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC are TO DIE FOR. No joke.

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