Hot Cha in the City
The Tea Cellar is a great place to get spendy. If you don’t consume alcohol but want to order a top-of-the-line, ultra-expensive beverage to impress, you can do it here. The priciest one commands $300 a pot. The cellar serves more than 50 vintage and rare teas from China, Japan, Sri Lanka and even the Himalayas, all served by a tea sommelier!
I started with a tea that is technically black but is called First Flush Darjeeling ($10), which is a full-bodied tea from the Himalayas. Hand-roasted Dragonwell ($9) was next. This tea prides itself on long, thin leaves (the smaller, the better). The competition oolong ($16), also known as the Iron Goddess of Mercy, was one of my favorites. This tea is full-bodied without being overbearing, and naturally sweet.
On weekends, partake at the Tea Table. Like most top notch spots, the menu is seasonal and local. Start with savories, as is the norm at tea time. A pulled pork wrap was bursting with pork, spices and seasonings plus cool lettuce on a lovely spinach tortilla. There was a tiny crab salad sandwich with egg on pumpernickel, beautifully adorned with a slice of radish. That taste of the Chesapeake reminded me of summertime crab abundance.
The lentil butternut squash salad was earthy and intensely spicy. Insanely spicy. I could not handle this heat. Brie and housemade jam on ciabatta helped extinguish the fire. Don’t miss the house-smoked turkey thigh on brioche with housemade ketchup, tempura crunchies and chives (delicious). And (surprise!) a SAVORY scone. Yes, the scone had Kennett Square mushrooms, scallions, and cheddar cheese. Devon cream optional. Yes, please.
Buttery Linzer torte was packed with tart cranberry, cinnamon, allspice, and of course, a touch of sugar. It was so beautiful, I didn’t want to eat it. Then I realized how delicious it was and didn’t want to stop. The banana walnut bread is not for the faint of heart nor weak of jaw, as whole walnut pieces were plentiful and amazing.
Mini Red Velvet cupcakes with pearls and cream cheese frosting will have you run down South and slap ya mama. Creamy almond pastries had what I thought was a cherry on top, but turned out to be a little, tiny lady apple. The vanilla bean panna cotta with clementines is real panna cotta, so get your Lactaid ready.
Tea from 2:30 pm – 12:30 am every day. Tea Table from 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday.
Photos: Kelly Greene
The Tea Cellar
Park Hyatt Washington
1201 24th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037