Tea Time in the Valley
While the tradition of afternoon tea originated in England in the 1800s, it has become popular across the U.S., including in the Valley.
Jo Gemmill, who is from England, opened the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree in 2002. “I wanted to provide a beautiful space in the desert for a good cup of tea and homemade food,” she said. “Over time, we have built relationships with repeat customers and have become embedded in the community.”
Gemmill describes afternoon tea as a celebratory meal ideal for various occasions. “I love seeing our customers celebrate life events, including baby showers, bridal showers and birthdays,” she said.
Guests at the English Rose Tea Room can enjoy a pot of tea, lunch or formal afternoon tea featuring the traditional menu of sandwiches, scones and petit fours served with a pot of tea. The English Rose Tea Room’s most popular teas include London Fog with lavender and vanilla, and Paris with vanilla, caramel and black currant. They also offer a menu for children.
The English Rose Tea Room has several themed teas, including celebrations to commemorate events in Britain’s royal family, as well as Halloween, Mother’s Day and an English-style Christmas with festive decorations, Santa Claus and carolers.
Another option is The Phoenician in Scottsdale, which offers an elegant afternoon tea Thursday through Sunday in the resort’s lobby.
“Afternoon tea is a time-honored tradition that we have been celebrating since The Phoenician opened in 1988,” said Michelle Wrobel, the resort’s assistant director of food and beverage.
The resort offers a traditional three-course afternoon tea menu and 15 flavors of tea, including chocolate coconut, which is blended exclusively for The Phoenician.
The Phoenician has a special holiday tea from Nov. 25–Dec. 30. “Our holiday tea has an enhanced menu with an additional finger sandwich option and festive pastries,” Wrobel said. “Our holiday tea tree features a variety of antique tea cups and saucers. We have many repeat guests who travel specifically to enjoy our holiday tea.”
Opened in 2020, Drink Me! Tea Room in Tempe offers a plant-based and gluten-free afternoon tea menu focusing on sustainability and an “Alice in Wonderland” theme. Open Wednesday through Sunday, Drink Me! Tea Room creates all menu items in-house using as many local ingredients as possible. The full afternoon tea includes options such as cucumber and cashew cream crisp, sun-dried tomato hummus, chocolate espresso cake and vanilla shortbread.
Drink Me! Tea Room has literary-themed tea parties, including “Harry Potter,” “Peter Pan” and “Bridgerton,” as well as Tipsy Teas with tea-infused cocktails and mocktails. Holiday theme events include the Nightmare Before Christmas, from Nov. 25–Dec. 4, inspired by the mash-up of Halloween and Christmas. From Dec. 7–30, Drink Me! Tea Room transforms into a festive Winter Wonderland Tea.
Reservations for afternoon tea are highly recommended, especially during the holidays.