Looking for a great girls' day out to celebrate the season? Start a new holiday tradition and have High Tea at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh's "Grand Dame" of hotels located in the heart of Downtown. The atmosphere is festive with decorations and a huge Christmas tree in the center of the lobby. On select days there are local choirs singing seasonal hymns. It really puts you in the holiday mood.
High Tea, which originated in the 19th century, is eaten in the late afternoon or early evening, and typically consists of a cooked dish, bread and butter and, of course, tea. There's something about drinking tea from beautiful cups in a historic, elegant hotel that makes it a decadent experience.
Served at the Omni's Palm Court, you have a choice of two tea selections: The Victorian Tea ($25) and the Royal Tea ($32). The difference is that the Royal Tea comes with your choice of either a champagne cocktail, a mimosa, or a Kir Royal. Regardless of which service you go with, you have your choice of teas. There's the rich, woodsy Darjeerling; flowery Earl Gray; cool, Organic Peppermint Leaves or Old Blue Eyes, sweet berries with a hint of caramel and vanilla.
Once tea is served, they bring out the mini sandwiches which include smoked salmon; cucumber, and cream cheese on a dill gougere; ham, gruyere, tarragon mustard on white bread; and arrugula, goat cheese, and marinated artichokes on a spinach tortilla. Don't eat too many sandwiches because dessert comes next - a three-tiered tray stacked with delectable sweets, each one yummier than the next. Flaky scones (plain and blueberry) with Creme Fraiche, raspberry preserve and orange marmalade; chocolate cups with amaretto mousse topped with almonds and coca nibs; and fruit tartlets of mascarpone topped with kiwi, blueberry, strawberry, and raspberries. Fresh fruit kabobs are available if you choose to go the healthy route (I didn't!)
If you want to take the kids, they also offer The Mad Hatter Tea ($15) for children 12 years and under. Beverage choices hot cocoa, cold milk or organic vanilla rooibos tea paired with fun sandwiches like Ham and Cheese Pinwheels, Peanut Butter and Jelly or Nutella and Banana Sandwiches.
You can also purchase tea to take home. It comes in a lovely tin with either Old Blue Eyes, Cherry Blossom Green or Organic Vanilla Rooibos tea.
So indulge yourself and all the tea lovers on your list with a memorable day at the Omni William Penn Hotel for Traditional Afternoon Tea, served Monday-Saturday, 2:30-4:00 p.m. Reservations are required.