March 5, 2013

Tea for Two … or Four

by

Phoenician Resort Scottsdale, AZ

You’ve been to afternoon tea, right? Or maybe you call it high tea. Either way, it’s one of the little indulgences every girl should experience. And if you ask CycleGuy, it’s cool for guys too!

I was 12 when I first experienced high tea. My Auntie Emma (my Grandma’s sister) invited me as part of my Bat Mitzvah prep. We went to the country club and it was quite a fancy affair. It was just the two of us and it made quite an impression. There were no men, as this was a “women members only” experience. I remember the piano player and all the nicely dressed women and young girls. And that first experience taught me so many things. It was very formal but there was a lot of laughing and talking. My Auntie was relaxed and funny and shared quite openly, which wasn’t something she normally did when we visited.

It wasn’t until I was out of college when I decided afternoon tea shouldn’t only be for “life events”. Periodically I’d gather a few friends and we’d spend a Saturday afternoon sipping tea and eating the most adorable and delicious little sandwiches and pastries. Sometimes I’d convince CycleGuy to come along, but usually he’d be the only guy and would rather it be a girls’ afternoon for me.

That was until we went to London when I was 8-months pregnant and I mentioned going to Afternoon Tea at The Ritz. So in all my pregnant-ness I squeezed into a lovely dress and CycleGuy donned a coat and tie and we sat among locals and tourists alike for what was probably 4 hours. The interesting thing about tea at The Ritz was how many men were there. No matter how many times we’d had tea before, there were rarely men. Not here, though. There seemed to be an expectation that men would attend, or maybe it was that these men didn’t think women should be the only one to enjoy such a delicious and relaxing time.

Fast forward a few years and my friend Zoni and I were hired to write reviews of the several locations for afternoon tea in Phoenix and Scottsdale. That was a no brainer! Afternoon tea at the finest locations, with BabyGirl and CycleGuy? Absolutely! It was an amazing experience and we definitely had favorites.

When I was asked if I’d like to experience Scottsdale and write about it from a local’s perspective, of course I said yes. And I knew exactly what I’d do, Afternoon Tea at The Phoenician. Known the world over as a top resort destination in Scottsdale, The Phoenician opened 25 years ago and was once owned by a royal family.

The Lobby Tea Court is a spectacular setting and has been home to the Afternoon Tea tradition since it opened. It’s definitely an experience, not an afterthought. From the moment you’re welcomed into the intimate, but open, lounge your cares and stresses start to melt away. For the next two or so hours your biggest decisions will be what type of tea you would like and if you want another chicken salad sandwich (or two).

Tea at Scottsdale Phoenician

While it’s not common to see children at Afternoon Tea, they are welcomed and offered the same tea service. For some this may be a deterrent, but BabyGirl was 4 the first time she had tea at The Phoenician (actually, she was 3 months old but being there isn’t quite the same as actually having tea) so she’s fairly familiar with the options. And oh, the options! This time there were almost 20 teas to choose from, all described so deliciously it was difficult to choose.

Tea is as much about the relaxing and visiting as it is the food. And The Phoenician doesn’t disappoint with either. Fine silver, Wedgewood China, beautiful piano music, amazing views and delicious food all create an experience you’ll want to have again and again.

We’re very fortunate here in Scottsdale to have more than one place to have afternoon tea. But The Phoenician is definitely my top choice. It hold so many memories for me, having been here numerous times. It was the first place CycleGuy and I had tea with BabyGirl, introducing to a tradition we hope stays with her.

Every time I have tea I’m taken back to that first time, at the country club with my Auntie Emma and the laughing and sisterhood. Afternoon tea may have started as a way for royals to have a little bite to eat and get them through until dinner. Today, it’s less about that and more about slowing down, relaxing, letting go of stress and technology and the fast-paced world and just being with friends having some tea and talking about life.

The Phoenician’s Afternoon tea isn’t a showcase of culinary excess or musical interludes. It’s traditional and relaxing. There are big windows with views that are truly breathtaking, fine linens and comfortable chairs. You look around and imagine the celebrities and royalty that has been there before you.

Every time I’ve been to the Phoenician it’s been nothing less than perfect. And for a few hours, perfect is gladly welcome!

 

Disclosure: This post is part of a compensated project by the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. I was asked to share some of my favorite places, from the perspective of a local. This post was not reviewed by a 3rd party. All opinions are mine and may not reflect those of the company. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. All photos are mine and subject to copyright.

Sara

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