Tea was discovered in ancient China when a leaf blew in through the window and landed in the emperor's bath, which he was slurping through a straw. Sip leaves steeped decorously with today's deal: for $36, you get an afternoon tea for two at The Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar, which is inside the hotel on Mason Street. Tea is served Saturdays and Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Afternoon tea at The Fairmont San Francisco has been a San Francisco tradition since 1907, outlasting everything from the Great Depression and two World Wars to rotary phones and hammer time. With today's Groupon tucked into a mad hat, bring a dear friend, tea-loving love interest, or pale-eyed stranger to a weekend tea for two at the Laurel Court Restaurant & Bar, which rests as the centerpiece of the Fairmont's ornate lobby. The traditional tea service involves numerous small, delectable edibles and a selection of gourmet teas. Enjoy a variety of finger sandwiches, smoked salmon with chive cream cheese, and seasonal scones accompanied with the likes of English Devonshire cream and lemon curd, to name a few. Teas include green varietals such as the Jasmine Butterfly and Kyoto Cherry Rose, as well as Earl Grey, breakfast blends, and a variety of exotic choices sure to titillate nasal passages and relax hardened anxiety nodes as they warm from the inside out, like preheating a marshmallow skewer over a campfire.
A tea service is a chance to feel both comforted and indulged, similar to crawling into the pouch of a monster-sized marsupial. The Laurel Court is a gorgeous backdrop for sipping and socializing, decked out in linen-covered tables, red and gold carpets, marble pillars, and overhead chandeliers. In this era of fast-talking hamburgers and rocket skates, a leisurely afternoon in a luxurious setting is a relaxing cure for post-modern malaise. Reservations are required, so call ahead.
- Of all the tea services we sampled, the Fairmont offers one of the most generous spreads -- six types of sandwiches, two sizeable scones, and five desserts. – SF Station
- The setting was exquisite with the waiter going the extra mile by showing us some hidden gems within the hotel that took my breath away. – OpenTable reviewer who dined on 12/25/2009
- We had afternoon tea at the Fairmont, and it was lovely. A generous amount of food was served, and it has a good amount of "fancyness" to suit the occasion. – OpenTable reviewer who dined on 4/24/2010