The midafternoon slump hit hard on my first day back in the office after a recent trip to England. “I really want some tea and a scone right now. Why don’t Americans take tea breaks like the British?” I lamented. What’s an Anglophile to do in America when she wants a good cup of tea and a delicious treat for an afternoon break? Fear not, we have plenty of options in Colorado Springs, formerly known as Little London.
The experience of having tea is about taking a daily pause and enjoying time with other people. So I gathered longtime friends, sisters Annie and Leah Wade, to explore the local tea scene.
First up was a formal, British high tea with sweets. The Wade sisters and I took our mothers to the British Pantry and Tea Room for a full course high tea. We enjoyed trying on fancy hats and eating freshly-made scones and sandwiches. The experience takes a full hour. So if you’re looking for something quicker, the British Pantry also serves PG Tips, a British brand, with a simplified menu of scone and jam or biscuits and a crumpet.
If you prefer to take your tea in a castle, there are two options nearby. Glen Eyrie serves a luxurious high tea with a menu that changes seasonally. Guests can gaze out at the striking red rocks and may even spot a bighorn sheep in the rugged valley. Miramont Castle also serves a high tea in Manitou.
If you’re in the mood for authentic Chinese tea, pay a visit to the Yellow Mountain Tea House in Old Colorado City. Annie, Leah and I first encountered the teahouse when it opened several years ago. We walked in expecting to grab a cup of tea at the counter, only to be surprised to find ourselves in the middle of a full-on Chinese tea ceremony. The shop has since expanded, and we recently returned to see what had changed. Today, customers can order organic dim sum in addition to traditional Chinese medicinal teas. Jars with custom blends of tea line the walls, and customers sit by low tatami tables. We chose our teas, ordered steamed beef buns and veggie dumplings and settled in for the experience. “It has a good atmosphere here,” Leah remarked.
Yellow Mountain Tea House owner Tanya Baros met her American husband in China, and the pair moved to the U.S. nine years ago. “Tanya’s grandfather was an herbalist, so she’s been brewing tea and making herbal mixes since she was 7,” our server, Coco Lucero, told us.
The shop offers teas for all kinds of ailments, from hormonal imbalances to high blood pressure. The night we visited, I had yet another one of my chronic headaches, so I chose the migraine blend to see if it helped. Lucero poured hot water on the table surface to begin. Then she put our blended tea leaves in large cups and gently swirled the water over the herbs before serving us. “We have a lot of customers who swear by the medicinal teas that they drink,” she said.
After finishing dinner and tea, I seemed to feel some relief from my headache, although it’s hard to say what helped the most: the tea, the nourishment of food after a long day or relaxing with friends. Maybe it was simply all of these combined in the unique experience.
Where to find your comforting cuppa or special tea ceremonies
The British Pantry and Tea Room
2403 W. Colorado Ave.
Yellow Mountain Tea House
2616 W. Colorado Ave. #21
3820 N. 30th St.
9 Capitol Hill Ave., Manitou Springs
1019 S. Tejon St.