Before diving into the best tea rooms in Philadelphia, we want to talk a look at the history. When tea rooms became popular in turn-of-the-century America, they were mostly owned and operated by women. As hosting and serving were an expected part of a woman’s work, this was an exceptional way for them to enter the workforce. Middle-class women would prepare a room in their home, or set up a table in their lovely garden, and serve a light meal of scones, sandwiches, or salads.
As another benefit for women, this also paved the way for them to enjoy a meal outside the home, without being escorted by a man. We think nothing of having a girls’ night out, but it was unheard of at the time. In the male-dominated world of taverns and hotel cafes, a lone woman would have caused a scene. A tea room was specifically designed to be welcoming, and feel more like a home, which made it more acceptable. It was a place to meet with friends, have conversations, and find respite from a busy day. It’s even believed that early suffragettes planned and plotted the women’s rights movement over cups of Earl Grey.
Today, the modern tea house boasts broader menus and an exotic collection of teas, but they are still one of the best places to enjoy an afternoon with friends. Whether you are taking a break from your hectic schedule or plotting to change the political fabric of America, here are 5 of the best tea houses right here in Philadelphia.
A Taste Of Britain
Snugged in the corner of Eagle Village Shopping Center, this cheerful little tea shop provides patrons with a traditional English experience. Favorites such as shepherd’s pie, pasties, and sausage rolls are made in house. Afternoon tea mimics that of a traditional tea in London. Gluten free tea sandwiches, desserts, and pastry offerings are also available. The scone of the month is a favorite for both traditional and gluten-free customers. The attached store gives customers the opportunity to take home imported goods like groceries, sweets, and home goods. It’s a perfect place to find a unique and memorable gift.
The Mary Cassatt Tea Room
Named after the acclaimed Impressionist artist, and located in the exquisite Rittenhouse Hotel, this tea room celebrates the time-honored tradition of afternoon tea. Chef Jon Cichon created a menu of savory scones and petite-desserts to pair beautifully with exclusive blends. We recommend sampling the signature teas Marry Me Again or Duchess’ First Love
Oozing with old-world charm and ambiance, this pub-style eatery has brought the best of London to Philly. Traditional small bites like sandwiches, tarts, and pastries are menu staples. The Dandelion also offers heartier favorites like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and even an upscale bacon cheeseburger. This makes it the best tea house to convert your coffee drinking friends.
The Random Tea Room
With a nod to healthy living, this tea house offers a variety of teas to soothe body and mind. The Random Tea House strives for sustainability, so packaging is compostable or refillable. Inside their bump bar, added boosters like bee pollen and burdock root to amplify the benefits of the brew.
Tilly Mint’s Tea Room
With all the charm and fine china, this sweet little shop offers the coziest side of high tea. Seasonal soups, crusty bread, and dainty desserts provide balance for the extensive tea selection. With options for even the tiniest of tea drinkers, this is the best tea house to visit with children.
If these tea rooms have made you fall in love with tea, we have amazing options for you from the high-tea capital of the world, London. Read our top choices of the best afternoon tea experiences in London here. Did we mention your favorite place? Use the comments to tell us who you think is the best tea house in Philly.