The tea parties of yesteryear’s noble courts were notoriously difficult to get into, largely due to the fact that guest lists were composed almost entirely of stuffed animals. Uninvite delusional bluebloods with today’s Groupon: for $18, you get Lucia Holman’s tea service for two on Friday or Saturday at Mission Houses Museum Café and Tea Parlor (a $39.90 value).
Cozily tucked within a cluster of missionary houses erected in the 1820s, Mission Houses Tea Parlor reawakens 19th-century English etiquette with old-fashioned tea parties. Named for an 1820s missionary, the Lucia Holman tea service brandishes fine china harboring cups of burbling warm tea steeped from the finest loose leaves. From underneath centuries-old trees, outdoor tea sippers can nibble on flaky, buttery scones, slathering them with generous layers of house-made lemon curd and rich devonshire cream before scarfing them down with the traditional British swiftness. Patrons can munch on an array of dainty sandwiches, grasping the moist miniatures between graceful fingers, or whetting broken broomsticks and piercing them with swift thrusts. Chocolaty desert pastries add elegance to the midmorning feast, allowing guests to enjoy sugar without catapulting bags of it across the street at neighbors’ houses.