Afternoon tea: It’s not just for royalty anymore

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It’s time to bring back afternoon tea. There are those who would say it never left, but most of them live in castles. So this article is for those of us who (unfortunately) don’t get to wear tiaras for work.

The custom of tea is said to have originated when a British duchess in the 1800s complained that she felt tired and hungry in the late afternoon — the time between lunch and dinner was too long. Agreed, Duchess.

And so began afternoon tea, offering both a relaxing break in the day and the opportunity to eat scones every afternoon. Sounds brilliant, right?

Luckily for us, there are a few great spots to indulge in this in Charlotte. My top pick is The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.

At The Ballantyne, tea is served year-round, Wednesday through Saturday from 1-5 p.m. You can enjoy it in the elegant lobby lounge — complete with a cozy fireplace on cooler afternoons—or on the gorgeous veranda with sweeping golf course views on warmer days.

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Tea includes a selection of teas (try the their signature blend, which features peach and floral flavors), warm scones and pastries, savory sandwiches such as cucumber and smoked salmon or egg salad, and some seriously decadent sweets like coconut truffles and vanilla eclairs.

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If all that wasn’t enough to entice you to spend an afternoon drinking from fine china and pretending to be a member of the “Downton Abbey” cast, consider this: Tea is also often accompanied by a glass of champagne or sherry. The Ballantyne even offers an “Afternoon Tea Peaches & Cream Cocktail,” a sweet and creamy concoction made with with house made peach syrup and vodka. (You may want to consider incorporating a post-tea naptime into your day as well.)

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Ready to dine like a duchess? Check out The Ballantyne’s website for some especially fun themed teas coming up like a “Downton Abbey”-inspired version March 2-5, one celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday in April, an “Alice in Wonderland”-themed tea in October and even a “psychic tea” complete with a fortune teller in November.

It’s $32 per person and reservations are required, so start making your tea time plans now.

Photos: Sarah Crosland

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