Afternoon tea goers in Atlanta certainly have a reason to be thankful. A decade ago, finding a spot to enjoy the traditional service was a feat, but now the city is teeming with cozy spots to enjoy a cup. Angela Renals, founder of Destination Tea and knower of all things loose leaf and tea tradition, believes millennials are to thank.
“Atlanta is at the forefront of a trend gradually developing across the country,” said Renals. “Thirty- and forty-somethings are finding out that afternoon tea is the perfect scrumptious, leisurely get-together for catching up with friends or celebrating special occasions.”
Perhaps the new generation is also to thank for the melting pot of perspective on tradition. According to Renals, the way Americans serve afternoon tea today is as different from one another as our country’s diverse heritage. You’ll find tea served in British, Russian, Japanese, Indian tradition and more. Renals' favorite is a Southern afternoon tea: a dolled-up, lavish cousin to the British version, with generous servings of BBQ, pimento cheese or chicken salad. In addition, you can find tranquil, Asian-influenced “tea bars” across the country or hearty, unconventional menus from the Italian-American tradition in New Jersey.
No matter your cup of tea, in Atlanta you’ll find local spots that infuse tradition with a unique personality and unbelievable creativity to beckon walk-in cravings and elegant reservations alike.
Our Roadmap to the Best Blends Across Atlanta
The best part about Jessa's Tea Parlor, a mother-daughter owned shop, is the overflowing creativity that accompanies every afternoon tea experience. From handmade table napkins at each place setting, to jewelry, teacups and pincushions for sale in the gift shop, to a menu made from scratch and served on chic, upcycled furniture, this elegant homespun vibe is a true blend of tradition and history with a new age, modern personality.
A staple teahouse for almost two decades, Tea Leaves & Thyme invites visitors to revel in decadent family recipes that make each personalized experience truly one-of-a-kind. Tea Leaves & Thyme has it all, from a welcome board donned with guest names and reasons for celebrating, to custom place cards at the table, tea hats and dresses to borrow, an extensive tea list and a great gift shop.
Visit Dr. Bombay's Underwater Tea Party for a blend of eclectic décor (think Harry Potter meets quaint bookstore) and gracious customer service. It features a quality tea selection, a close-to-perfection family recipe for clotted cream and service at a doable price point. Sip with a purpose—its mission is to pay college tuition and house female scholars in Darjeeling, India. Walk in or book The Caroline Tea for personalized perfection upon arrival.
The team at Just Add Honey is always in a good mood, and it’s probably because they know how good their teas are. The private blends are sourced globally and use only organic and whole ingredients, while its creative menu uses local caterers and bakeries. Choose traditional service at the Hammonds House Museum or go casual with counter service or a rooftop seat at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market cafe.
Even though The Ritz Carlton’s famous tea service left the city last year, the menu at this notable luxury hotel has more than filled the void. The Mandarin Oriental delivers a hint of Eastern influence with unique blends such as the Shanghai Rose, handpicked fresh black tea leaves infused with lychee and red rose petals or Sencha Fukujyu Cha, a popular natural leaf tea in Japan known for its sweet, earthy flavor.
With no shortage of unique nosh spots outside the city, it’s no surprise a worthy tea shop has popped up as well. With more than 100 loose teas, tastings daily and monthly educational classes, Urban Tea is a tea lover’s Starbucks. Order to go or sit down to dessert tea with a warm scone, Devonshire cream and luscious preserves. The Communi-Tea Table takes reservations at a super-affordable price.
A quiet, neighborhood staple for afternoon tea, standout lunch and desserts, Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary offers a unique tea sniffing bar to choose the perfect blend to stay and enjoy or take home. Its menu of afternoon tea service varies, but includes a hard-to-find and ridiculously enjoyable Vegan Tea.
The majority of the teas at Jayida Ché Herbal Tea Spot are herbal tisanes because the owners source and blend based on a passion for using herbal teas as natural remedies. Their goal is to blend teas that are "tasty to the palate and beneficial for the body."
Steeped in Tea Lore
Need a tune-up on your tea knowledge? Here are nine facts every tea drinker should know.
1. There are more than 3,000 varieties of black, pu-erh, oolong, green, yellow and white tea.
2. All tea comes from one plant, the Camellia sinensis.
3. Tea is high in vitamins A, B, C, and E and minerals such as fluoride, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc and potassium.
4. Herbal infusions, called “tisanes,” are often caffeine-free, chamomile and ginger included.
5. Children’s mini tea sets were originally manufactured as samples for tea-set salesmen.
6. Iced tea was born at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair as a sales tactic.
7. Traditional British scones are like biscuits, while American scones are like cake.
8. A true clotted cream is difficult to find in the U.S., so, unless it’s imported you’re usually spreading whipped cream or another substitute.
9. High Tea is not the same as Afternoon Tea. "High Tea" was actually the term for the working class supper, a hearty meal at the end of the day.