“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
Henry James from “Portrait of a Lady”
The centuries-old tradition of afternoon tea has fallen out of popularity in recent decades, but Amanda’s Tea Room in Palm Desert is resurrecting the convivial practice of sharing the indulgence of a spot of tea, tea sandwiches, and a sweet or two with a friend or a group of friends.
Barbara Chavez, the proprietress of Amanda’s Tea Room and Boutique, has created a charming and relaxing tea room of antique furniture and “shabby chic” decor. She serves tea and sandwiches on her extensive collection of antique and family heirloom china that adds to the experience of bygone days.
As you step through the door at Amanda’s Tea Room, you’re transported to another world. Your tea experience begins as you choose a hat to wear from the enormous collection Chavez provides her tea guests. Next you are seated at your table for the fun 90-minute ritual, which includes a menu with your choice of tea, a variety of delicate tea sandwiches, scones and bite sized sweet treats – Chavez’s blueberry scones are her specialty. You can also add a glass of bubbly to make it more festive.
Read the Tea Leaves
Chavez has always been passionate about afternoon tea and she visited tea rooms wherever she traveled. the idea of having her own tea room as a business turned from a dream into a reality after she and her husband retired to the desert in 2008 from Stockton. She took a three-month online course on how to run a tea room and shadowed the owner of a tea room in Escondido.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY AMANDA’S TEA ROOM
Barbara Chavez pours tea at the Palm Desert location, which was named after her late Golden Retriever.
Chavez’s tea room is named after her beloved Golden Retriever, Amanda, and the menu items are named for her other past four-legged companions who have departed.
“Everyday someone thanks me for offering the community a place like this,” she says. “I tell my husband that I have to keep it going because I don’t want to let my tea guests down. I want to offer a place where my guests can make memories.”
The ever-so-civilized ritual of afternoon tea nurtures the social aspect of enjoying a cup of tea with friends or family and letting life slow down for a bit. It’s about taking a brief break from the hectic pace of life and enjoying a few moments of quiet reflection or casual conversation. “I wanted to create an atmosphere for my guests to leave their worries behind,” says Chavez.
She hosts a variety of special events – wedding and baby showers, bachelorette parties, and of course, birthday parties. For Valentines Day, Mother’s Day or any other occasion, Amanda’s Tea Room hosts theme afternoon teas. For little girls, there’s a special princess party room she calls the Tea Party Palace complete with princess dresses, accessories, and other items for dress-up. The room accommodates groups of 16 “princesses.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY LYDIA KREMER
The Tea Party Palace comes with princess dresses and accessories and can accommodate groups of 16 “princesses.”
The custom of afternoon tea was popularized by Queen Victoria at the turn of the century and spawned the English national pastime of “taking tea.” It was intended to be an interlude to enjoy light refreshment before the customary late dinner hour. Taking tea at 4 o’clock in the afternoon is the established practice but afternoon tea can be enjoyed any time.
Amanda’s Tea Room, 73625 Highway 11, Suite C, Palm Desert. Reservations recommended. 760 341-4101; amandastearoom.com.