Christmas Tea in the Bay Area: Start a Family Tradition

Pinkies out, everybody!

In case you’ve never taken your little girl — or boy — to tea, this holiday season offers a perfect opportunity. One of the best times to take kids for a high tea experience is during the holidays, when everybody’s feeling festive. You just might start a yearly tradition.

Here are some places in San Francisco and the East Bay that have arranged a special Christmas-season event for young tea-lovers. It’s not just for girls, either: my macho eight-year-old loves a good tea service, although he’s not yet a fan of goat-cheese crustless sandwiches. Maybe next year.

The Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz
The Teddy Bear Tea includes hot scones with lemon curd and Devonshire cream.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel, San Francisco

Each child receives a fluffy teddy bear and a souvenir family photo at this luxe Teddy Bear Tea, which features a high-energy, funny musical show performed by wisecracking Stretchy the Elf and his lovely sidekick, Holly Berry. A portion of the proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish® Greater Bay Area.

Teddy Bear Tea at the Ritz
Stretchy the Elf and Holly Berry entertain at the Teddy Bear Tea.

Grownups choose from chamomile or black or vanilla English tea, and enjoy two courses of sophisticated tea-time treats: a savory course, with items such as cucumber and crème fraiche crustless open-faced sandwiches and smoked fish-filled gougeres; and a sweet course that includes macarons, madelines, and warm scones served with lemon curd or Devonshire cream. My son enjoyed the bottomless pot of hot chocolate with unlimited marshmallows, and two kid-friendly courses that include open-faced ham and cheese and deviled egg sandwiches, fruit tart, a decorated cookie and rice krispie treat among other finger foods.

Christmas at Ritz-Carlton on Nob Hill
The tree is up at the Ritz-Carlton on Nob Hill.

December 6-8, 14-15, 20-24, 2013. Seatings at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

$110 per guest (children and adults pay the same price), inclusive of gratuity and tax. Parking included (request a validation).

600 Stockton Street at California Street, San Francisco. Call for advance reservation: (415) 773-6168. See website for more info.

Dunsmuir House, Oakland

This neoclassical revival mansion operated by the City of Oakland takes local kids back in time to the turn of the century for a wide range of Christmas-themed activities, including a tour of the 37-room mansion lavishly decorated for the season. Children’s Teas are held at historic Dinkelspiel House and include a visit from Father Christmas.

Dinkelspiel House in Oakland
Dinkelspiel House is the settting for Dunsmuir House’s Christmas Tea in Oakland.

Dec. 15, 11:15 a.m.

$38 per guest (adult), $36 seniors, $25 juniors aged 6-12. Includes admission to grounds, activities and a visit to the mansion. Children under age 6 are discouraged. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Order tickets online or by phone at (510) 238-3052 Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Julie’s Tea House, Alameda

The well-loved tea spot in Alameda will serve its special recipe Flower Power Cider and its regular menu during its special event with visit by Santa Claus, but they do not offer a typical high tea.

Dec. 14, at 12:30 p.m.

1223 Park Street, Alameda. Visit website or call (510) 865-2385.

The English Rose, Pleasanton

This popular East Bay spot has put up all its best Christmas decorations for what it dubs a “festive and tealightful Christmas Tea,” offering a selection of seasonal treats for kids and adults.
Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 14, Dec. 21, Dec. 28 at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.; Tues.-Fri. at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
$35 adults, $25 children.

163 West Neal Street, Pleasanton, Calif. (925) 462-6233 or see website for more info.

The French Bakery, Lafayette

Kids under 11 year old receive a cuddly teddy bear as they snack on an afternoon tea selection which features a Teddy Bear-shaped sandwich with Nutella or jam and cream cheese; veggies, scones with all the fixings, and a choice of hot chocolate or herbal teas. Reservations required.

Tea time at French Bakery in Lafayette
The French Bakery in Lafayette.

Dec. 8, Dec. 21, Dec. 23 and Dec. 31.

$29 adults, $24 children 11 and under.

71 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette. (925) 283-2226. Visit website.

Westin St. Francis Hotel, San Francisco

The hotel is offering a traditional-style afternoon tea for adults and children in its Oak Room. The lobby features a 12-foot tall castle made from sugar at this time of year.

Tea Service at the St. Francis Westin
Tea Service at the St. Francis Westin

Saturdays and Sundays Dec. 1-22. Call for available times.
$44–$51 adults, $24 children 12 and under.
335 Powell Street (between Geary and Post), San Francisco. (415) 774-0264. See website.

Palace Hotel, San Francisco

The Palace Hotel is famous for its high tea served in its lavish Garden Court, which reopened in 1909 following reconstruction after the 1906 quake and is considered one of the city’s most beautiful public spaces. Among holiday offerings is a Santa Tea held Saturdays in December.

Dec. 7, 14, 21, 28; reservations available between 2-3:30 p.m.

2 New Montgomery Street , San Francisco. (415) 512-1111. Website for holiday events.

Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco

The Intercontinental Mark Hopkins, located at the top of Nob Hill, puts on a Children’s Magical Tea in the Top of the Mark restaurant, with a buffet, magic show and face painting by Fire Pixie.

Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, three seatings a day.

$50 adults and children (bring a toy donation and get a $2 discount). Taxes and gratuities not included.

999 California Street, San Francisco. (415) 616-6941. Download the Holiday High Tea [pdf]

Lovejoy’s Tea Room, San Francisco

One of my family’s favorite tea shops is decorating for Christmas and offering a special menu of holiday teas and menu items during extended holiday hours.

1351 Church Street, San Francisco. (415) 648-5895. See website.


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  1. Rebecca says

    Great list! I spent so much time last year researching all the different children’s holiday teas when my friend and her daughter were visiting.
    We ended up at the Secret Garden Tea House’s Prince and Princess Tea.
    It was very well done, with fancy hats for the kids to try on while they ate.

  2. Lisa Tsering says

    Celia I researched both of those for the article. Captain’s Cottage never answered my requests for info! And the place in Benecia looks cool! I left it out for geographic reasons, but it will definitely be on our radar.