Recently I got to experience Afternoon Tea at the beautiful Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. I have been a long-time fan of afternoon tea, and have been fortunate enough to experience tea houses big and small. With some of my most memorable being in Canada at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC as well as at The Butchart Gardens, also in Victoria. When I lived in Fresno, my girlfriends and i had a favorite spot called The Primrose Cottage, serving tea in an old Victorian home. When I worked for Princess Cruises, my fellow youth counselors and I would look for any excuse to take a group of kids to tea in one of the formal dining rooms. When I moved to Los Angeles almost 15 years ago, I set out to discover every afternoon tea in this city. I’ve enjoyed finger sandwiches and scones at such varied places as The Peninsula Hotel to the Chado Tea Room to the Beverly Hills Hotel to Jin Patisserie, which used to have a garden patio on Abbot Kinney. I think I was saddest when The Tudor House in Santa Monica closed down a few years ago. That was always a reasonable, reliable spot to take visiting friends or just stop by the cute British market and gift shop for a Cornish Pasty and a Treacle Tart (I know my Harry Potter foods)!
But when I discovered recently that the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena offered a specialty Chocolate Tea on Sunday afternoons, I knew I had to experience it, and I knew just the occasion. I sent off a text to my friend Robin and asked if she would like to celebrate her upcoming milestone birthday in this fashion, and her answer was a resounding YES. She flew in for the weekend with her college-aged daughter, Rachel, who we have dragged around to many a tea shop over the years. Now she is old enough to appreciate the tradition along with us.
We were promptly seated for our 1pm reservation, and offered unlimited champagne, apple juice or Elderflower Lemonade in addition to pots of tea. Let’s just say I would have been happy with just the lemonade, it was that good. I must have had 3 champagne flutes full of the sparkling, refreshing lemonade. Who cares about the tea? Among the three of us, we only shared one pot of Vanilla Rooibos. The tiered tray held our sandwiches and scones. Each of the sandwiches were filled or spread with a variation of chocolate mousse. We got to sample two scones, chocolate marble and chocolate chip, along with the requisite clotted cream and lemon curd. For dessert, we actually had to get out of our lovely seats and walk to the serve-yourself pastry presentation, which was a beautiful table filled with at least a dozen chocolate delicacies. Plus a delightful chocolate fountain, with handmade marshmallows, fruit and cakes set nearby for dipping. The pianist played the Happy Birthday song for Robin as the staff brought her an extra dessert with a lit candle! Speaking of staff, the service was impeccable. After two hours we forced ourselves outside to take photos around the beautiful property, commenting the whole time about our wonderful, decadent Chocolate Tea experience!
By Trish Procetto