Editor’s note: Oringally published in 2017, updated to reflect this years dates and prices.
When I was in college, I spent a year studying in Norwich, England, where I fell in love with its tea culture, especially during the holidays. There is nothing more satisfying than disconnecting from the craziness of life by enjoying a hot cuppa tea, paired with a buttery cucumber sandwich and sweet cranberry scone topped with smooth, rich Devonshire cream.
Since then, I make a point of treating myself to afternoon tea at least once per year. The holidays are a perfect time to partake in this lovely British tradition. As Henry James once said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Fortunately, Lake County is home to several establishments where you can celebrate the holidays just as our neighbors across the pond would want us to do. And if you feel like venturing out a little further, check out our recommendations for afternoon tea in Chicago. Don’t forget to make reservations ahead of time!
Holiday Tea in Lake County
High Tea with Gerri
Gerri’s Tea Room, 44 Old McHenry Road, Long Grove
Open Monday – Sunday, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. by reservation
Prices range from $21.50 – $41 per person.
The owner, Gerri, draws on her culinary training in London to prepare a fresh, authentic tea daily. Choose from eight varieties of sandwiches, followed by scones, apple-rhubarb pie with fresh mint and cream, and other pastries. Gerri and her staff dress in authentic Victorian attire and serve tea in antique china teacups. Options include a traditional four-course tea featuring sandwiches such as Scottish Smoked Sandwich Pinwheels and Open-Faced Asparagus Rounds, to the Emperors Six Course High Tea, which consists of a soup, aperitif, and variety of petit pastries.
Deer Path Inn
255 East Illinois Road, Lake Forest
Tuesday – Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., reservations required
$45 per adult; $25 per child.
Teas at the Deer Path Inn have been carefully selected with the help of Malcolm Ferris-Lay, Master of Tea, whose family has been connected with the tea trade since 1842. The Deerpath Inn features a range of teas, including traditional English and Chinese teas, which are paired with sweet and savory treats, such as shrimp and lobster salad croissants and assorted petit flours. Make sure you try the ham and swiss quiche and scones with fresh lemon curd and cream. Their seasonal teas are lovely – try the enchanted forest tea, which has aromas of black forest cherry cakes, and the chocolate cream truffles tea, which is a good as it sounds – it’s like liquid chocolate topped with sweet coconut shreds and can easily pass as dessert.
St. Lawrence Episcopal Church, 125 W. Church Street, Libertyville
Saturday, December 1 and Saturday, December 8, 2018, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Tickets are $30 through November 26 and $35 beginning November 26.
Come to St. Lawrence Episcopal Church and have a classic Victorian style tea right in Libertyville. There will be English teas, scones, finger sandwiches, and bite-sized desserts for indulging. Space is limited, so please make your reservations as soon as possible.
Worth the Trip
Holiday Treasure Hunt and Tea Party at the Art Institute of Chicago
Modern Wing Entrance, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Sunday, December 9, 2018, 12:00 p.m., or 1:30 p.m.
$50 per adult; $25 per child; free for children under 2
Learn about select works and enjoy an array of fun activities as you visit five stops within the museum’s galleries and in the Ryan Learning Center. This special event is targeted for families with children. After the treasure hunt, enjoy a tea party and entertainment in the historic Stock Exchange Trading Room.
The Celtic Knot Public House
626 Church Street, Evanston
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
$19 per adult; $12 per child.
The Celtic Knot features an afternoon tea with an assortment of mini sandwiches, including egg salad, ham with stone ground mustard, and smoked salmon with dill sauce. For a sweet treat, try their homemade scones with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
140 East Walton Place, Chicago
Holiday Tea dates November 23-January 13 with seatings every half hour 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
$52 per person for adults; $25 for children ages 4 – 12 years old.
Enjoying afternoon tea at the Drake Hotel is a holiday transition for many Chicagoans and suburbanites. The elegant atmosphere will make you feel like a king or queen for a day (Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana dined here), and kids will love the elaborate decorations, carolers and a harpist. Enjoy a selection of finger sandwiches, English scones, and festive petit fours.
2108 N. Clark Street, Chicago (Lincoln Park)
Holiday Tea is available from November 25 – December 31, seven days a week at 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m.
$45 per person for adults; $19 for children ages 4 – 12 years old.
Enjoy gourmet tea, signature pastries and an assortment of special holiday-themed pastries such as gingerbread macaron, pecan tart, and pumpkin curd in addition to other homemade jams and curds, finger sandwiches, and lemon pepper quiche. Delight in Vanille’s signature hot chocolate with a house-made marshmallow and peppermint macaroon.
Where will you enjoy a cuppa this holiday season?