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.
Dunsmuir Hellman 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.
When: Children’s Tea is offered only once this season on Sunday, December 13th 11:15 AM seating and you can expect a special performance of Nutcracker Suite as well as admission to grounds, activities, and a visit to the mansion.
Cost: $45 per guest (adult), $43 seniors, $38 juniors aged 6-12. Children under age 6 are discouraged. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Where: 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Order tickets online or by phone at (510) 238-3052
Tyme for Tea, Fremont
Tucked away in Fremont’s charming old Niles neighborhood (right next to the Niles Canyon Railway) is Tyme for Tea & Co., an antique-filled hideaway that is offering a seasonal December menu plus a special weekend “Tea of Good Tidings”. They specialize in a Victorian tea with a modern twist, featuring eggnog scones with cinnamon butter; fig & goat cheese puffs; prosciutto-wrapped dates with pecans and Christmas cranberry crostini.
When: Dec. 12 and 13 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. $42 per person, includes tax and gratuity. Reservations required.
Where: 37501 Niles Blvd., Fremont, Calif. (510) 790-0944. Learn more on the website.
Julie’s Tea House, Alameda
The well-loved tea spot near the Alameda Theatre will serve its special recipe Flower Power Cider and its regular menu, but they do not offer a typical high tea. Nobody will stop you from getting a little dressed up as you order your tea and scones. Santa may or may not stop by.
When: Regular hours are Monday through Friday 7am to 7pm. Weekends opening at 8am.
Where: 1223 Park Street, Alameda. Visit website or call (510) 865-2385.
In the (925) and beyond, make your holiday tea service in Pleasanton or Benicia.
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 beginning November 27th. Seatings are 3 times daily for most weekdays and 4 times on weekends. Reservations strongly recommended.
Cost: $38 adults, $28 children.
Where: 163 West Neal Street, Pleasanton, Calif. Reserve a spot at (925) 462-6233 or see website for more info.
Camellia Tea Room, downtown Benicia
This Benicia spot, about half an hour from Berkeley, is already decked out for the holidays. They host an annual Teddy Bear Tea, complete with traditional tea service, costumed characters, storytellers, Christmas carols and a visit from the man in red, all as a fundraiser for the Benicia Main Street Program. Timing still TBD.
Where: 828 First St., Benecia, Calif. (707) 746-5293. See website.
San Francisco Holiday Tea Services
Downtown near BART or ferry
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. Their Saturday high tea service is continuing as always. Among holiday offerings is a Santa Tea held Saturdays in December.
When: Holiday Afternoon Tea is held in The Garden Court Tuesday – Saturday beginning Nov. 27 and running through Dec. 29 with reservations from 2pm to 4:30pm. The Palace Santa Claus Tea will be held in The Garden Court on Mondays, December 7, 14, 21 & 28 with reservations from 2pm to 4:30pm.
Cost: Holiday High Tea is $90 Adults / $60 Children (5 – 12); Santa Claus Tea is $5 more per ticket.
Where: 2 New Montgomery St., San Francisco. For reservations call (415) 546-5089. See website for holiday events.
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 as well as a brand new sweet shoppe (as in, you might never make it to the tea service). High tea service is elegant, traditional, and may be upgraded with sparkling wine for the adults.
When: November 29-December 21; available Saturdays and Sundays only, 2pm to 4pm
Cost: $45 Adults Complete Tea; $47 with Red Blossom Tea; $49 Adults Royal Tea; $53 with Red Blossom Tea; $25 for children 12 and under for regular tea. Reservations are required. Please be sure to book early. For reservations, call (415) 774-0264.
Where: 335 Powell Street (between Geary and Post), San Francisco. (415) 774-0264. See website.
Ritz-Carlton Hotel, San Francisco
Each child receives a fluffy teddy bear and a souvenir family photo with a giant teddy bear 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.
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.
November 27-29, 2015 and December 5-6; 12-13, 2015 – 1 p.m.
December 17; 19-24, 2015 – 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Cost: $120 per adult; $115 per child, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Purchase tickets.
Where: 600 Stockton Street at California Street, San Francisco. Call for advance reservation: (415) 773-6168. See website for more info.
Sir Francis Drake Hotel (served by Crown & Crumpet)
Crown & Crumpet’s “Tea Under The Tree” service at the Sir Francis Drake features both classic and limited edition teas from Crown and Crumpet with a selection of tea sandwiches, crumpets, scones, macarons and more. Service includes a glass of sparkling wine for adults and sparkling cider for kids as well as a craft for the kids (felt ornament kit) and a limited edition (and limited quantity) glass blown ornament for adults! Reservations are strongly encouraged.
When: Weekends from Nov. 28 to Dec 27 with weekday service Mon – Wed (Dec. 21 – 23 and Dec. 28 – 30) between 11am to 3pm.
Cost: $85 all inclusive for adults; $45 for children 12 and under; Tickets can be purchased through Crown and Crumpet Tea Stop, 415-771-4252. Tickets will NOT be available through the Sir Francis Drake.
Where: Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Also in San Francisco
Secret Garden Teahouse
The afternoon Prince & Princess Tea (for 12 and under) includes fancy festive sandwiches (hopefully peanut butter and jelly), holiday sweets, fresh fruits, plus their choice of tea, hot cocoa, egg nog or lemonade. For Reservations please call 415-702-0398 or see the website.
Where: 721 Lincoln way (between 8th & 9th Ave) San Francisco, CA 94122
Lovejoy’s Tea Room, San Francisco
One of my favorite tea rooms, Lovejoy’s has a loyal following for its funky, antique-filled décor and tasty menu items such as finger sandwiches with Branston chutney and cheese or roast beef and horseradish; or scones with preserves and Devon cream.
They promise to decorate the tea room in high spirits for Christmas this year, and are open extended holiday hours. Prices vary. Reservations suggested.
Where: 1351 Church St., San Francisco. (415) 648-5895. See website.
The Crown & Crumpet Tea Stop Cafe
Located in the stylish New People building in Japantown, this is a very popular (but cramped) spot that draws crowds for its daily High Tea. Christmas program adds an English Christmas Cracker and hands-on craft to the festivities. Reservations strongly recommended.
When: Saturdays 12/5 to 1/3 from 11am to 5pm
Cost: $38.00 per adult and $22.00 per child (12 & under)
Where: 1746 Post St., San Francisco. (415) 771-4252. See website.
Since last year, these reader favorites have closed their doors to the public:
- Captain’s Cottage in Pinole is no more.
- French Bakery in Lafayette is closed. No more nutella teddy bear sandwiches.
[Photos used with permission from the businesses as indicated]