High times and low tea

January 15, 2013
I’ve been craving a nice high tea these days.
Not just any high tea, but one in a beautiful, elegant setting.
And then I learned that swanky tea is actually “low tea,”
named for the low tables on which it was served.

“High tea” is actually more like a ploughman’s hearty meat supper.
Who knew?

Most of the tea rooms around are chintz-quaint and homey,
but not elegant.

I want a real low tea. Fancy.
Fancy tea service means dainty china teacups with pink painted flowers 
and the aroma of fine, English tea leaves.
Scones and cream, crumpets, tiny cucumber sandwiches served on small
gold-rimmed plates and the company of a fine woman friend–doesn’t that sound good?

A real tea includes five savory items and three or four sweet ones
per person, or so I read the other day.

Back in the day, the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco (now a Westin) had a wonderful tea 
at the Compass Rose lobby bar. I miss walking up the few steps and taking a seat near one of the gorgeous silk kimonos hanging on the rich, dark wood walls.

The ambience made it easy to imagine yourself back in the 1940s, maybe even
in some elegant tea room on the subcontinent, 
with women in hats, tailored suits with pencil skirts and seamed stockings.

I can remember so many lovely afternoons there,
the buzz of women talking, the clink of china,
the three-tiered plate of tea sandwiches.
It evoked another age and I loved it.

No resemblance to the grand, elegant Compass Rose, which now exists only in my memory.
But, the Compass Rose closed 
some years back, replaced by a Michael Mina restaurant.
And they’ve just destroyed the beautiful, historic ambience
by renovating it into his Bourbon Steak restaurant.
So much for progress.

And bad timing, too.
Teas have been gaining in popularity for years.
With the return of Downtown Abbey TV show,
tea’s more popular than ever. 

I hear San Francisco’s Nieman Marcus and the Ritz have tea
and next time I’m in the City I’m going to try it.

And I know exactly with whom.

10 comments on “High times and low tea
  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t have low T but am worried about an enlarged prostate. What hotel do I visit about that?

  2. I had to laugh at your “Low Tea” given all the commercials on the TV now for men with Low T…I thought this post would be about that. Snort. But I did enjoy it. Tea is such a comforting beverage. I just did a post on Tea if you want to see it. http://stillblondeafteralltheseyears.com/2013/01/heirloom-icebox-oatmeal-cookie-recipe/ It includes my Grandma’s recipe.

  3. Second blog I’ve read about tea today. Love it! I’m lucky to be a member of a Garden Club (Montclair, NJ) that still has a low tea after every meeting. Cucumber finger sandwiches, stuffed dates, the whole thing. It’s such a treat.

  4. amkovacs says:

    I was craving high tea as well and indulged, this past December. A girlfriend and I made it out of the suburbs to downtown Chicago to have afternoon tea at the Palmer House. http://www.palmerhousehiltonhotel.com/
    It was so civilized and worth every penny. 

  5. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Yes, I was thinking this was a play on words as well! I remember taking my daughter to her first High Tea. It was such an elegant girlie experience. We both loved it!

  6. Grace Hodgin says:

    I have found that a lot of tea houses do not serve as they do in Great Britain but enjoy them just the same.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Diva, you are just way too sharp for Anon Y. Mous.
    Touche! Remind me to exchange bon mots with you in the future!

  8. Anon: 12:58pm
    I advise you to see the Hotel California.

  9. Anon, reveal yourself! or give me a clue….why do I think we have exchanged bon mots IRL? LOL

  10. Anonymous says:

    But then I couldn’t call myself Anon Y. mous!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.