Tea for two: Mother’s Day tea service in Orange County

Afternoon tea service at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel includes a menu of tea sandwiches and sweets.
Afternoon tea service at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel includes a menu of tea sandwiches and sweets.
(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel)

The practice of enjoying a cup of tea in the afternoon is as much about the comfort of the ritual as it is about the tea. It is a chance to relax as you patiently wait for tea to steep and an opportunity to catch up with friends. Plus, there is almost always cake. The leisurely nature of the modern tea service has made it a popular addition to some of Orange County’s favorite restaurants.

This Mother’s Day, treat Mom to a tea experience for two (or more) with afternoon tea services that range from the fancy and formal to the cute and adorable. It will give her a chance to indulge in a little luxury that is just her cup of tea.

A special “Spring Par-Tea” afternoon tea is being offered at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel.
A special “Spring Par-Tea” afternoon tea is being offered at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel for Mother’s Day.
(Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel)

RAYA at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel
1 Ritz Carlton Dr, Dana Point

The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel is bringing back its Spring ParTea afternoon tea experience this month to celebrate Mother’s Day. Hosted at the resort’s RAYA restaurant now through May 16, afternoon tea is $115 for adults and $90 for kids with reservation available from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and presented in partnership with Parisian tea brand Palais des Thés. Loose leaf tea is presented in glass jars for guests’ inspection, while servers trained by Palais des Thés tea sommeliers go over the finer points of the tasting notes for each. Once your tea of choice is selected, you’ll receive your own teapot, set atop a small burner to keep it warm throughout the afternoon. If Mom would like to toast with something other than tea, she can add a tea-infused cocktail to her experience. Afternoon tea service includes a variety of tea sandwiches like a curried chicken salad tartlet and rib-eye steak sandwich with brie and balsamic caramelized onions. An assortment of delicate sweets includes a chocolate tulip, blueberry tartlet and guava cookie. One of the best treats at this tea party though, is the panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean.

Handmade pastries served at Knife Pleat's afternoon tea service.
(Courtesy of Knife Pleat)

Knife Pleat
3333 S Bristol St, Costa Mesa; (714) 266-3388

Knife Pleat, South Coast Plaza’s one-Michelin-starred French restaurant from Chef Tony Esnault and restaurateur Yassmin Sarmadi, offers an elegant afternoon tea each Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. In honor of Mother’s Day, Knife Pleat will be open an extra day to offer afternoon tea on Sunday, May 12. Tea service is $135 per guest and includes a selection of loose leaf teas from La Maison du Thé that go beyond black tea. A Japan Sencha special tea, for instance, is a green tea grown in Shizuoka and high in antioxidants, while the nutty Gen Mai Cha is a blend of sencha, roasted brown rice and corn. Savory tea sandwiches are elevated with luxury ingredients like black truffle and Maine lobster, while pastries are baked with finesse. Guests can enhance Mom’s experience even further by adding champagne or caviar to the tea service for an additional charge. If Mom prefers a cocktail party to a tea party, Knife Pleat has recently launched a bar menu with bites like deviled egg toast, a mix of mustard, chive, celery served on brioche to go with their craft cocktails. (The bar menu is served daily at the bar only.)

Afternoon Tea service at Hello Kitty Cafe in Irvine.
Afternoon Tea service at Hello Kitty Cafe in Irvine.
(Jakob N. Layman)

Hello Kitty Grand Cafe
860 Spectrum Center Dr, 92618; (949) 536-5357

The Hello Kitty Grand Cafe in Irvine serves seasonal goodies and beverages themed after Sanrio’s most famous cat, but there are even more experiences hidden in the Bow Room. Just beyond the cafe’s main room, pink booths surround a marble-topped bar in the small 30-seat lounge, where a cocktail service is offered after 5 p.m. for guests over 21, and a special tea service Mom will love is available in the afternoons. Available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, afternoon tea service is priced at $60 per person and is family friendly. Enjoy a prix fixe menu of sweet and savory treats and a pot of tea of your choice, with blends like Lychee Peach and Earl Grey. Crustless cucumber sandwiches are cut in the shape of Hello Kitty, and egg salad is served in a fun mini ice cream cone. Everything is served on adorable Hello Kitty china, and small details like a tiny red bow adorning the macarons and a sparkling pink Hello Kitty sugar cube on your saucer evoke Sanrio’s motto: small gift, big smile.

A spread with tea sandwiches, pastries, salad, teacups, a teapot, a glass of water and champagne.
The assorted and substantial lunch menu at the Tea House on Los Riosa.
(Courtesy of the Tea House on Los Rios )

The Tea House on Los Rios
31731 Los Rios Street, San Juan Capistrano; (949) 443-3914

The Tea House on Los Rios in San Juan Capistrano is what cottage core dreams are made of. Delicate floral print tea cups and white lace doilies top the tables in a garden party setting where afternoons are known to slip away unnoticed. To honor moms, the Tea House is hosting a special tea experience, available daily through the entire month of May. The two-hour experience is priced at $85 per person and includes organic loose leaf tea service and choice of champagne, mimosa or sparkling cider. The menu covers all the traditional bases with classic tea sandwiches like cucumber and herbed cream cheese and house cured pink peppercorn salmon with beet creme fraiche and caviar, but guests will also get a choice of heirloom tomato bisque or a baby spinach and strawberry salad. Mom can also indulge in a trio of Mother’s Day petit fours and plenty of the Tea House’s famous currant scones, baked fresh and served with lemon curd, raspberry preserves and early California cream.