This past weekend, a very nice friend took me to tea at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena. Formerly the Ritz, it’s a beautiful 23-acre property. Parking is valet only for visitors, and my dirty Honda stuck out like a sore thumb among the shiny Porsche, BMW and Mercedes cars.
Immediately upon entering the lobby, I felt like I was on vacation. There was a sense of peace despite the myriad preparations in motion for a wedding later that day. The walkways are wide with extra thick carpet and tiny chandelier lights perched on the walls. I made my way to the rear of the hotel, where the airy Lobby Lounge was set up with about 15 tables for afternoon tea, complete with a live pianist. (If you go, it’s important to have a reservation. Ours was booked weeks ahead.)
The Langham in London claims to be the first hotel in Europe to serve afternoon tea, so they take their afternoon tea very seriously. The food is a set menu, but just getting through the 19-choice tea menu took us a while. Luckily, the servers are very savvy and helpful.
After much debate, we made our tea choices. I went with the Silk Road Blend, a Chinese Silver Needle white tea with jasmine and Iranian rosebuds. It was so light and delicious that I want to drink it again right now. My friend chose Green Tea Passion, a blend of green teas with tropical fruits. It was good, but we agreed mine was better!
The scones, of course, were my favorite part aside from the tea. I’m happy to say that I have finally eaten decent clotted cream in the United States. And the lemon curd was delicious!
Finger sandwiches have never appealed to me (I don’t like condiments), but the shrimp was very good. Like at the Savoy, the fancy desserts were generally prettier than they were tasty. My favorites were the crème brûlée banana tart and the orange cranberry tea bread.
We couldn’t eat it all, and I was sad to leave my (second) teapot half full. No to-go cups for the tea, but they did pack up the leftover food for us.
After a quick walk around the grounds, it was time to go back to real life. I really enjoyed myself, and I’ll be back to the Langham when I need a good dose of fancy.