Where to Have Afternoon Tea in Seattle
The menu at Ravenna’s Queen Mary Tea Room helpfully describes afternoon tea as a meal designed for “high-society ladies” looking to fill “the void between lunch and dinner,” presumably in comfortable, regular-level chairs. High tea, on the other hand, dates back to workmen of a bygone century. It’s served at high tables, the kind you find in a pub “to not dirty chairs and table linens with their work boots.”
Might that confuse barbaric coffee-loving Americans? Perhaps. But nomenclature aside, the ritual of afternoon tea has a lot going for it. It’s a holiday tradition, a fun event with kids—perhaps a way to commune with her late majesty Queen Elizabeth, or process everything you just read in Prince Harry’s new memoir. While most afternoon teas are more than happy to throw some champagne in the mix, it’s also a great way to catch up with friends who want to steer away from alcohol. Either way, raise those pinkies and bring on the clotted cream.
Cedar and Elm
Queen Mary Tea Room
Tea is a longtime tradition at the downtown hotel. After a lengthy renovation, weekend-only tea service now happens in the lounge area of the lobby's extremely handsome Olympic Bar, where armchairs and love seats deliver a more relaxed feel. Each person receives a personal tower of sweets, sandwiches, and savory bites that reflect the polished fare inside the George restaurant just up the stairs. Your selection from the dozen loose-leaf tea offerings gets steeped in the pot, so the outcome is finessed, but not overly complicated. The bookshelf-heavy atmosphere skews decidedly adult, but the Fairmont has a tea menu for kids that trades crab profiteroles for cake pops (and even tea for cocoa or lemonade). Reservations open one month in advance and book up fast.
Technically this longtime local haunt in downtown Bothell is a tea-centered event venue—a place awash in lace and floral china that hosts parties, showers, even the occasional wedding. But on event-free days, owner Christy Graham opens the dining room for regular high-tea service. You have to pick up the phone and call to gauge availability (425-686-7670) but tea-takers here can choose from five different menus, which focus on scones, finger sandwiches, and bottomless pots of tea. (A kids menu lets you swap in lemonade or cocoa, and more child-friendly sweets.) Covid retired the popular costume room, but you can still dress for the occasion by borrowing from the house collection of fancy hats and fascinators. Seasonal teas for holidays like Mother's Day sell out fast.