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TEA TIME

8 PLACES TO ENJOY AFTERNOON TEA IN ORANGE COUNTY

By Allison Hata | Contributor

SPRING 2024 ISSUE

Fancy a cuppa? Orange County is taking cues from across the pond to deliver afternoon rituals fit for royalty. If you’re craving a proper spot of tea and tiered trays of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and dainty cakes, there’s no shortage of places to gather — each with its own SoCal twist on tradition. From posh establishments with formal service and ocean views to charming cafes with options for all ages, here are some of our favorite tea rooms around town. 

SPRING 2024 ISSUE

MORNING LAVENDER CAFE

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Photo courtesy of Morning Lavender Cafe

Nestled in the heart of Old Town Tustin is a cafe-boutique known for its colorful lavender lattes. While the cafe is a cozy spot to catch up with friends during the week, the patio is reserved every Friday through Sunday for afternoon tea. Smoked salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches are served with a scone and desserts including macarons and a miniature sprinkle doughnut, paired perfectly with a selection of hot teas like the popular peaches and cream. Champagne and mimosas are available to order, including a glass of bubbly infused with the cafe’s signature lavender syrup. There’s also a special Tea for Tots hosted monthly for children ages 2-5, which includes storytime and a singalong with a themed character like Alice in Wonderland along with lemonade and treats. 

Afternoon tea: $39 adults, $29 children ages 7-13; Tea for Tots: $25 per child

 

IG: @MORNINGLAVENDERCAFE  |  MORNINGLAVENDERCAFE.COM

HELLO KITTY GRAND CAFE

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Photo courtesy of Hello Kitty Grand Cafe

This Irvine Spectrum Center spot is the embodiment of the popular Sanrio character. The front of the cafe offers counter service with beverages and baked goods, but those with afternoon tea reservations will be invited to step into The Bow Room. Awash in pink, the cheerful seating area features playful touches like Hello Kitty-shaped tiered trays and teapots topped with a signature bowl. Sweet and savory items are on the prix fixe menu, which includes cucumber and egg salad finger sandwiches and a scone along with unexpected bites like a pesto tart and smoked salmon croissant. For a sweet finish, bite into a Sanrio-themed cake as you finish a pot of sweet and tangy hibiscus birthday tea. Afternoon tea is held every Wednesday through Sunday. 

Afternoon tea: $60 per person, ages 4 and up

 

IG: @HELLOKITTYCAFEIRVINE  |  HELLOKITTYCAFE.COM

TANAKA FARMS

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Photo courtesy of Tanaka Farms

Irvine’s family-owned and operated 30-acre farm launched its own take on high tea this year, a special event held one Sunday a month. On the menu is farm-to-table fare like salads, quiche, and finger sandwiches prepared with fresh-picked produce from Tanaka’s own fields, along with a selection of sweet treats and scratch-baked scones with lemon curd. While sipping on your black or herbal tea, enjoy a storytelling session that will guide you through the history of the farm. Every session ends with a signature wagon ride around the property. 

Farm-to-Table High Tea: $65 per person, ages 12 and up

 

IG: @TANAKAFARMS | TANAKAFARMS.COM

MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH

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Photo courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Perched on a seaside bluff, Montage Laguna Beach offers a new kind of afternoon tea for those 21 and up. Called Tea with a Twist, this spirit-centric experience features a craft iced tea along with two tea-based cocktails of your choice or a half-bottle of Champagne. It’s held in the Lobby Lounge every Friday through Sunday, complete with views of the Pacific to enjoy with a selection of the resort’s traditional tea bites like a miniature lobster roll and pink macaron. 

Tea with a Twist: $216 per person

 

IG: @MONTAGELAGUNA | MONTAGELAGUNABEACH.COM

THE TEA HOUSE ON LOS RIOS

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Photo courtesy of The Tea House on Los Rios

Sip tea in an enchanted garden setting at this San Juan Capistrano spot that offers daily seatings. It’s a whimsical experience straight out of a fairy tale — complete with an historic 1911 restored cottage. There are several tea experiences to choose from that all include assorted tea sandwiches, a freshly baked currant scone, fresh fruit, sweets and a pot of loose leaf tea. Optional upgrades range from a glass of Veuve Clicquot or a mimosa to heartier bites like soups and garden salads. For little ones, peanut butter and jam, grilled cheese, or turkey and swiss tea sandwiches are on the menu with sweet sips that include a Shirley Temple or pink lemonade. 

High tea experiences: $42–$74 adults, $29 children ages 10 and under

 

IG: @THETEAHOUSEONLOSRIOS  |  THETEAHOUSEONLOSRIOS.COM

PAMELA’S TEA ROOM

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Photo courtesy of Pamela's Tea Room

Tucked away in Huntington Beach’s Old World Village is a quaint tea room and British market run by a woman who arrived in the States by way of Yorkshire, England. She’s created a traditional English tea room that serves both high tea and afternoon tea Tuesday through Sunday, with the former including a hearty bowl of the soup du jour along with the requisite finger sandwiches like coronation chicken and curry, side salad, and warm scones. Children have their own “Little Princess” tea menu, and can join in the fun with milk or lemonade served in a mini teapot. 

Tea experiences: $31–$36 adults, $16.50 children ages 12 and under

 

IG: @PAMELASTEAROOM  |  PAMELASTEAROOMBRITSHOP.COM

MCKENNA’S TEA COTTAGE

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Photo courtesy of McKenna's Tea Cottage

Offering indoor and outdoor seating in Old Town Seal Beach six days a week (closed Tuesdays), the quaint tea room has a traditional menu of tea and treats. You can choose to indulge in soups and salads along with your pot of tea and assorted sandwiches — just be sure to leave room for a homemade scone in seasonal flavors like Earl Grey blackberry. Kid-friendly sandwiches are available along with lemonade for younger guests.

Tea experiences: $31–$36 adults, $16.50 children ages 12 and under

 

IG: @MCKENNASTEACOTTAGESEALBEACH  |  MCKENNASTEACOTTAGE.COM

KNIFE PLEAT

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Photo courtesy of Knife Pleat

This Michelin-starred restaurant in South Coast Plaza offers an afternoon tea experience that is as decadent as it is elegant. Held every Saturday, the refined ritual begins with your choice of French handcrafted loose leaf teas, followed by a selection of seven savory bites like a Maine lobster eclair and caviar deviled egg, as well as delicate pastries such as a red bean mooncake and Parisian macarons. Indulge with a caviar service upgrade, which includes pomme gaufrette, toasted brioche, and oeufs brouillés along with one ounce of your selected caviar. 

 

Afternoon tea: $115 per person

 

IG: @KNIFEPLEAT  |  KNIFEPLEAT.COM

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