I am sure this is not what ReneG has in mind, but I do have to report on my recent experience at the Penisula for High Tea, afterall, there just aint that many high tea threads around.
Our older daughter, Hannah recently had her birthday, and the Condiment Queen came up with the idea of having a tea party. Hannah is at just the age where she and her friends can stay well behaved for high tea, appreciate the scrumptious fare, yet not treat anything as the least bit ironic. It was another in the long line of simply brilliant ideas from the CQ (or as we call them in the house, sb's).
Two winters ago, we tried the tea at the Drake, and it was really nothing that special. After some calling around, we really had two choices, the Penisula and the Ritz Carlton. We decided on the Penisula simply because it was newer.
So, obviously, I cannot say this was the best tea in town, but it was pretty darn best. It's advertised as a 3 course affair, savory tea sammies--no crust! scones and jam, and plenty of pastries. They snuck in an un-disclosed 4th course, a lemon poppyseed souflee, but who'd complain about that. You get a pot of tea or coffee. The teas included some Asian varieties, in a nod to the Penisula's origin, no? as well as the more Brit stuff and the modern herbals too.
Oddly, the tea was the worst part of the equation. The only thing poor all afternoon. Even after extensive seeping, my Indian Assam Gold Leaf tea remained weak. Frankly, I did not care. I was having so much fun eating all the other things. The scones, even if served without clotted cream, were "the best". Crispy and light, these were not your hippie type scones. Of the tea sandwiches, I really liked the rolled up and oddly cut salmon; of the other pastries, nearly everyone agreed that the strawberry rhubarb crumble took the cake.
Service was young and eager if not polished. The room itself is very polished and classy appearing if nothing like the true glamour of the old hotels. (For instance, the Driscol from my recent visit to Austin, now there's a hotel!). Still, everything added up nicely. They charged half-portions for the kids, so it was not THAT outrageous either. I'd return next time I want high tea, although I might order the coffee.