The Willard (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW) already has one of the best afternoon teas in Washington. This time of year, it not only adds festive touches to the menu, but in Peacock Alley—the elegant space where the tea is held—potted topiary trees are draped with Christmas decorations and white lights.
The $47-a-person tea starts with a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne or a vodka-tea cocktail—your choice. While you sip, you can dip into a chocolate sleigh filled with fresh berries sprinkled with powdered sugar. That’s just one treat. Other sweet touches include cranberry and gingerbread scones—accompanied by jams, lemon curd, and Devonshire cream—as well as such pastries as bite-size fruit tarts and delicate chocolate napoleons.
The scones and pastries are presented on a three-tiered china tray; the top layer is devoted to savory finger sandwiches, including ham and cheddar on a Scottish oat cake, turkey on a buttermilk biscuit with orange-cranberry chutney, maple-smoked salmon on New England brown bread with fennel butter, egg salad with poached quail egg on rye, and shaved English cucumber and watercress with cream cheese on country white. If you want more of anything, just ask.
Then, of course, there’s the tea.
Besides more than a dozen loose-leaf choices—which range from a special Willard blend of Darjeeling, green, and red-bush teas to decaffeinated African amber, an infusion of hibiscus and exotic fruits—there are two holiday brews: chocolate-mint truffle and pear-caramel truffle. (We can vouch for the latter, which has a decadent aroma.)
The price includes parking, which normally costs $16 for up to two hours, and live piano or harp music. And, of course, the impeccable service the Willard is known for.
Tea is served Monday through Friday 2:30 to 5, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5. The holiday tea is being offered through December; call 202-637-7305 for reservations.
Interested in other holiday teas? Here are the details for a few.
The Hay Adams is doing a holiday tea every Sunday until December 30. Tea is served from 3 until 5 p.m. and costs $38 for adults and $30 for children ages 12 and under. 1 Lafayette Square; 202-638-6600.
The following are not specifically holiday teas, but are still taking place through the month of December. Call in advance to confirm times and holiday schedules.
Mayflower Hotel Afternoon tea Monday to Saturday 3 to 5; Sunday 3:30 to 5:30 $25.99 to $32.95 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW 202-347-2233 cafepromenade.com
Park Hyatt Afternoon tea Every day 2:30-5:00 24 & M Sts., NW 202-789-1234 parkwashingtonhyatt.com