Proper Tea and Scones by Manhattan Fruitier

A little surprise came in the mail last week… 

…afternoon tea in the form of a gift basket.

Such a fun idea, and thank you Manhattan Fruitier. Beautifully packaged and filled with a selection of tea and sweets. All the fixings needed to host a simple afternoon tea at home. 

The scones are baked by Sweetleaf in Long Island City (they do great tea and fruit drinks). I received apricot-ginger-pistachio scones though sometimes they switch it up with honey-lavender scones. The crunchy, sugar-dusted tops are my favorite part. Six pieces, individually wrapped. 

No need for preserves and lemon curd because the scones have plenty of flavor. But a bit of honey never hurts so they included raw wildflower honey from Catskill Provisions in upstate New York…

…which came in handy for both the tea and scones. 

As for what type of tea? No. 47, The Queen’s Guard from Bellocq (remember our visit to their Greenpoint atelier?)…

…a delicate blend of black Ceylon tea, rose petals, lavender, and cornflowers. 

And because no detail was forgotten, a brass strainer and set of loose leaf tea filters.

Don’t mind if I do ^_^

St. Regis San Francisco | A Tea Ritual

The St. Regis hotels are big on rituals. The champagne sabering ritual, the bloody mary ritual, the midnight supper, and even a tea ritual. These rituals (which are more like traditions that reinforce the hotel brand), are not readily advertised, though you’ll come across them during a hotel stay. It’s almost like discovering a little secret. 

At St. Regis San Francisco, a tea ritual takes place each afternoon in the Lobby Bar. The ritual involves the pairing of a specific tea and dish (one savory and one sweet) which changes with the season.

I’ve got a soft spot for tea + food pairings, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn about this. Shall we begin? 

Tea is loose leaf from ITO EN. Did you know has ITO EN two offices in the US? One in Hawaii and the other in Brooklyn. So random and awesome.  Their Honyama Sencha is paired with a Kaisen sashimi salad. Think arugula, hearts of palm and a toasted sesame dressing complete with tuna and such tender scallops.

If you stopped by earlier this summer the sweet pairing featured Egyptian chamomile and apple elderberry pie. This was recently replaced with a bold, malty Assam tea and a chocolate-coconut cake…

…which reminded me of home in Hawaii and Ted’s chocolate-haupia pie. The dark chocolate cake was so rich it bordered on flourless. And that coconut topping was straight up haupia.

P.S. Want to take a peek inside the hotel? 

There are two restaurants inside the St. Regis. On the ground floor is Ame (which has a great sake list). It’s run by the same people behind Terra in Napa Valley.

Vitrine is on the 4th floor and they’re open for breakfast and lunch service. They serve ITO EN teas in the Lobby Lounge, but use Tealeaves tea at this restaurant.

And don’t forget to bring your swimsuit. I love swimming but can’t stand the sun…so indoor pools, yes please. The spa (Remède, the St. Regis spa brand) is right across the hall…

…or you just head back to the room for a nap. 

Pratesi linens, deep soaking tubs, beautiful working spaces…and the SFMOMA right next door. What’s not to love?



San Francisco | Kara’s Cupcakes

Trendy or not, I’ll always have a soft spot for cupcakes. Chocolate on chocolate. And at Kara’s they do it right. 

One box, one cupcake. A solo afternoon treat. 

The official name for this is Chocolate Velvet. A simple, moist cake paired with dark chocolate buttercream. Take note, the buttercream is whipped, so airy and light on the tongue.

One of the few cupcakes where I actually eat all the frosting ^_^

Afternoon Tea at Laurel Court, The Fairmont San Francisco

This is an example of a not-so-great afternoon tea service.  

It’s at the Laurel Court inside the Fairmont San Francisco. Tea is $39/person. The setting is fine, but service is sloppy and the food is even worse. I always worry that something like this is what people picture when they think “afternoon tea.” Afternoon tea should be like this! And like this

Not like this.  

Heavy sandwiches that are twice the size a correct tea sandwich should be. Chunky, uninspired.

  • Cider Poached Chicken on Brioche with Watercress and Mission Fig Spread
  • Laurel Chanel Chèvre on Walnut Bread with Quince Paste and Cucumber
  • Red Hill Farms Egg Salad on Wheat with Dijonaise, Scallion & Radish
  • Smoked Salmon on Pumpernickel with Chive Cream Cheese & Caper
  • Deviled Hickory Smoked Ham Salad on Sourdough with Artichoke Spread 

Pale, pasty scones. The devon cream, lemon curd, and vanilla bean-infused quince and pear compote were the only saving grace of this tea service.

And a plate of passable sweets. Fruit tarts, chocolate tarts, bonbons, macarons, and mini madelines. First and last visit, at least we can check this off our list. 

P.S. There are nine teas on the menu including a signature Fairmont blend (Assam, Kenyan, Chinese, South Indian, and Ceylon tea) and a Willow Stream Spa Blend from Clearwater estate in Zimbabwe. Menu notes that this is the only tea that’s decaffeinated at the estate while in the green leaf stage.