Although the history of tea in the United States may not reach as far back as it does in Asia, India and the United Kingdom, Americans still share a deep-rooted respect for this complex and aromatic beverage.
From tranquil afternoon teas to instructional, Japanese-style tea ceremonies, we’ve assembled a compendium of must-tries around Palm Beach County and beyond to savor, shop, luxuriate and learn about the rituals of tea.
Ever wondered how tea came to be, or why some teas, like matcha, are so popular? These experiences will steer you toward the path to tea enlightenment.
Robin Durfee believes every cup of tea has a story to tell. The South Florida tea sommelier hosts themed tea classes with tastings, like “Tea 101” and “Intro to Green Tea,” as well as tea flights at Fort Lauderdale’s Zen Mind Space. She also teaches cha dao, an ancient Chinese practice that melds meditation with tea drinking. At Robin’s House of Tea, she sells more than 50 tea varietals from around the world, including India, South Africa and Taiwan.
Tea enthusiasts who prefer a more hands-on experience can take part in the Omotesenke-style tea ceremony workshop taught in the Seishin-an Tea House at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach. Yoshiko Hardick instructs students in the art (and the ABCs) of sado, or “the way of tea,” which includes whisking matcha tea as well as serving and drinking it properly in the tea ceremony tradition. Additional classes examine the various styles of serving and delve deeper into the intricacies of the tea ceremony itself. Afterward, stop by the Cornell Café for a cup of green tea and drink in the verdant surrounds of the Morikami’s Japanese gardens.
Get brewing with these fabulous, tea-instilled essentials.
Prepare the perfect pot with Tea Forté‘s pyramid-shaped Icon Lusso platinum tea infuser. To use, remove the bottom stopper and add loose tea. Set back on ceramic turquoise tray after steeping; $100; available at Neiman Marcus locations; neimanmarcus.com
Potter and bon vivant Jonathan Adler marries functionality and design with his Dora Maar teapot he designed with Pablo Picasso’s muse, Dora Maar, in mind; $138; available at Saks Fifth Avenue locations; saksfifthavenue.com
A cup of tea is so powerful it can manifest flowers, exotic spices and desserts. At The Spice & Tea Exchange, black chocolate, crème brûlée and hazelnut cookie-flavored teas serve as zero-calorie cures for a sweet tooth. Add extra dimension with aromatic sugars, like salted caramel, Key lime and mango habanero. Teas start at $5.89 for 3 ounces, and $4.89 for a 1.5-ounce bag of sugar; available at The Spice & Tea Exchange, Palm Beach Gardens, spiceandtea.com
Every tea party deserves to win the gold. The Cheval d’Orient teacup and saucer by Hermès was inspired by Persian miniatures, small paintings designed to add vibrant color to literary works and ancient texts; $950; available at Hermès in Palm Beach; hermes.com
Luxuriate in the remedial and beautifying benefits of tea-based therapy.TEA-INFUSED SPA SERVICE
Beauty gurus have long preached the benefits of facial teas. At Kaffee’s Garden Spa in West Palm Beach, spa-goers receive a facial tea compress during the Garden Salt Kur, a hydrating and exfoliating body treatment performed in their Himalayan salt room, or add one onto a facial. Skin care pro Kaffee Keldie fills her compresses with good-for-your-skin herbs, such as wild-crafted rosehips, dandelion and oat straw, whose remedies range from brightening dull skin to soothing skin conditions, like acne and eczema.
The Azul Marine Wrap at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach takes its cue from the restorative, cerulean waters of the Atlantic Ocean. After a light loofah to eliminate dry skin, the body’s covered with a calming chamomile tea and sea kelp mix then wrapped in thermal Mylar blanket and covered in a warm towel. Shea butter is applied at the end, leaving the skin glowing, supple and deeply hydrated. The 50-minute treatment includes a choice of a scalp and face massage or a foot reflexology massage.
DRINK & EAT
So many teas, so little time. Here’s what and where you need to be drinking, and eating, right now.
Introduced in Taiwan in the 1980s, bubble tea is a whimsical elixir concocted from cold tea, milk, syrup and marble-sized tapioca pearls, or “boba.” Inside Delray’s buzzy Ramen Lab Eatery, customers flock to Sugar Milk Boba and Dessert Bar for owner Elizabeth Thepithack’s bespoke iterations, like the honeydew tea with egg pudding, lychee jelly and bursting boba (pearls that “pop” with flavored juice). The boba-centric shop serves up other Asian tea drinks with delicious flavors and kooky hues. There’s even an arcade with classic video games and a pinball machine.
If you haven’t tried cheese tea, you must. Similar to the frothy head of a cappuccino, this cold tea drink is topped with a foamy layer of whipped cream, or condensed milk, and cream cheese and is typically finished with a pinch of salt. At Yum Creamery in West Palm Beach, cheese tea is made in 10 variations of Chinese tea, including peach chin and roasted oolong.
ALCOHOLIC TEA BEVERAGE
The Beauty and The Beeeef in Wellington offers a long list of inventive cocktail choices, but the Jing Jang, a libation made from chamomile tea and Southern Comfort and Jameson Irish whiskies, is definitely worth a try. Delivered in a steaming teapot with an empty cup and one with ice, it can be sipped hot or cold and will either have a wicked bite or a soft, floral taste.
Prefer your kombucha with an extra kick? Head over to City Oyster in Delray Beach where bar manager Ted Downey is shaking up a series of Non-Prophet kombucha-laced cocktails, like the Mexican Bucha, a flavorful mix of organic tequila, agave nectar and passion fruit kombucha garnished with lemon and lime wedges. If you prefer your cocktail sans spirit, there’s a non-alcoholic flight with four, 4-ounce pours.
TRADITIONAL AMERICAN-STYLE TEAHOUSE
Housed inside a kaleidoscope-colored, Victorian-style home in downtown Delray Beach, the Yaxche Tearoom + Emporium steeps some of the best teas in the state. Proprietor Alexandra Wayne scours the globe for teas she keeps stored inside the glass jars that line the walls. Teas have funky monikers, like Good Omen and Soul Mate, and deliver holistic benefits, like the Nirvana tea that incorporates coconut, almonds and roses to calm the mind. Adaptogens, or natural herbs with health-promoting properties, can also be added to drinks. Loose teas are packed in reusable, zero-waste tins.
NON-TRADITIONAL TEA PURVEYOR
Jupiter-born brothers Alex and Christian Le Clainche launched Pumphouse Coffee Roasters in 2016 and serve a couple of tea options at their Grandview Public Market location. Organic teas, like the sencha green with olfactive notes of butter, steamed greens and pine, are sourced from Royal Tea New York. Loose leaf and iced teas are available including matcha and chai lattes served cold or piping hot. For a caffeinated kick, ask the barista to make you a Dirty Chai with espresso.
TRADITIONAL AFTERNOON TEAS
Diamond Tea Room & Bistro is a Treasure Coast gem. Jeweler Terry Rieger fell in love with tea while studying gemology and antique restoration in England. She opened her teahouse 10 years ago and offers a six-course high tea and an eight-course Queen’s Tea. The cheese plate with seasonal fruits nods to life across the pond. We dare you to pass through her store, Diamonds by Terry, and leave empty-handed.
For nearly two decades, Serenity Garden Tea House & Café has been serving afternoon tea from its cozy perch near the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach. Dublin-born owner Audrey Farrelly brews more than 50 teas and prepares from-scratch, flaky orange scones, mini-quiches, her famous soups and bite-sized sandwiches in flavors like turkey with cranberry. Whatever isn’t made in her kitchen gets sourced from small businesses within a 1-mile footprint.
At Teapots and Treasures Café and Curiosities in Juno Beach, this adorable, shabby chic-inspired teahouse is made up of semi-private vignettes with gracious touches that guests can call ahead to snag. Owner Barb O’Donnell’s tea presentation showcases praise-worthy finger sandwiches and heavenly desserts that include Orange Delight and Black Forest cakes. The gift shop sells whimsical keepsakes and millinery ladies can wear while they dine. O’Donnell says no one has ever left hungry, which explains why most leave with a to-go box.
Delray Beach’s Tealicious Tea House celebrated its 10-year anniversary in December and will be opening a Parkland outpost this spring. The jewelry box-imbued space has an intimate ambience with tables set with fresh-cut flowers and luxurious tea settings from Sadler, Royal Albert and Royal Grafton. Cordon Bleu master and chef Luciana Capanema sends out seven types of afternoon tea, including the Abigail Rose high tea, with an emphasis on wow-worthy desserts patrons aren’t shy to share on social media.
Palm Beach’s Chesterfield Hotel sets the quintessential, British-style afternoon tea, complete with five kinds of finger sandwiches, including a savory roasted chicken salad, traditional British scones and decadent, miniature-sized desserts. Afternoon tea can be sipped in the tropical, outdoor courtyard, cozy, wood-paneled library or famed Leopard Lounge Bar. Whichever you fancy, we’re pretty sure Britain’s late prime minister Margaret Thatcher, a past guest, would approve.
EA-FLAVORED ICE CREAM
Proper Ice Cream in Delray Beach is well known for its wildly creative flavors, like cornbread and apple tartin, mascarpone and toasted nuts, and a plain strawberry so well made, you think you’re eating just-picked strawberries. The matcha ice cream is formulated with equal pride and boasts super-premium matcha green tea imported directly from Japan.