Editor’s note: This is the fifth post in a series of guest posts from the PRSA National Capital Chapter publicity committee leading up to the PRSA 2014 International Conference, October 12 – 14. Follow the Conference conversation by searching the hashtag #PRSAICON and following our PRSA National Events Twitter handle, @PRSAevents.
Afternoon tea originated in the mid-1800s when Anna the 7th Duchess at Bedford (England) often found herself hungry in the late afternoon between breakfast and dinner which was frequently served at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. To stave off her late afternoon hunger, she ordered tea, bread and butter, and cakes delivered to her room. The tradition caught on and today is known as afternoon or high tea.
Today’s afternoon tea has evolved into a social tradition that is celebrated around the world and at more than a dozen locations throughout D.C. Here are some of the notable D.C. teas:
At the National Cathedral, afternoon tea is served in an observation deck that includes a view of Washington. The tea includes a tour of the cathedral making this a perfect activity for those staying an extra day in D.C.
The Fairmont Washington serves tea in the hotel’s Loggia Lounge overlooking a manicured garden.
At the Jefferson, a boutique hotel, the tea is served within the hotel’s Greenhouse, is complete with royal gates and a bright skylight.
At Strathmore, volunteers serve a pot of tea while guests get to sip their tea among the Strathmore’s art exhibitions, musical concerts or music center tours.
The Hillwood Café at The Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden offers afternoon tea and will accommodate visitors of 10 or more. Enjoy your tea after touring the estate, formerly owned by businesswoman, socialite, philanthropist and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post, The estate features more than 17,000 art objects including Faberge eggs, and 18th and 19th century French art.
At the Park Hyatt’s exclusive Tea Cellar, you can discover more than 50 rare and limited-production, single-estate teas from remote regions of China, Japan, Sri Lanka and the Himalayas. Learn the importance of water temperature and steeping time for each tea and get help from the Tea Expert in selecting your tea–some with the flavor and complexity of fine wines. The Tea Cellar features a glass humidor to store, display and age tea.
The Willard is D.C.’s longest running afternoon tea serving the late afternoon treat for more than a century. Tea goers can enjoy tea in the Peacock Alley room while listening to live harp music and sampling from an array of organic teas. Just a few blocks from the White House, the Willard is the site of many historic moments, It is where Martin Luther King composed his “I have a dream” speech, Julia Ward Howe penned the Battle Hymn of the Republic, and the term “lobbying” was coined.
D.C. afternoon tea costs vary ($20 to $59) as do the days and times tea is served. Check online for days, times and reservation availability.
Even in D.C. where there is so much to do and see, afternoon tea is a popular activity so be sure and make your reservations early. Enjoy some relaxing downtime while you are visiting our nation’s capital.
Lauren Lawson-Zilai is the PR director at Goodwill Industries International.