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Enjoy the British Tradition of Afternoon Tea at The Grand Tea Room in Escondido

Published by Cathy Hendrie

By Cathy Hendrie
PassPort to San Diego

Around the world, Afternoon Tea bespeaks an honored tradition of elegance and refinement. Fine china, lacy linens and glove- and hat-adorned patrons add grace and polish to the occasion, whether it’s for a light meal or for a more formal affair, such as a shower, graduation or birthday.

Fortunately for San Diegans, the same experience can be enjoyed at The Grand Tea Room, a full-service tea room and gift shop in downtown Escondido. The venue, which also offers patio dining, is where my friend Cynthia and I were lucky enough to spend an early spring afternoon (pre-Covid-19). We were welcomed by smiling owner Louisa Magoon, whose love for tea resulted in the opening of the business in 2011.

Before we sat down, we donned a couple of fancy hats — free to borrow for tea time — to more properly enjoy the English ambiance. The cozy salon, adorned with painted murals and crystal chandeliers, felt more like a beautifully appointed living room, providing the perfect setting for a relaxing experience. We then pored over the delectable menu, filled with a choice of the shop’s 45 tantalizing teas, and our ultimate choice to share: the classic, triple-tried Grand Tea.

And, oh what a presentation. Generously sized tea pots containing freshly steeped flavors such as the robust French Caramel Crème Brûlée and refreshing Mango flanked the centerpiece triple tower — three glass plates containing assorted tea sandwiches, scones, quiche, shepherd’s pie and petite desserts. We had each started with fresh fruit and tomato basil soup, and this culinary main course tickled our already happy palates! Of course, we couldn’t consume it all and were able to take home the sweet treats. We did, however take advantage of sampling other teas — a nice offering.

While we chose The Grand Tea for the occasion, we could have opted for the lighter Cream Tea that includes fresh fruit, a scone, lemon curd and preserves, and a pot of tea; or the Garden Tea, which adds the finger sandwiches and a savory. While the menu is ever-changing,  basic tea sandwiches like chicken salad and cucumber are always served.

The venue’s elegant tea service takes place three times per day, Tues.-Sat., now on the pretty patio. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are also welcome. Also, order “Tea to Go” to enjoy at home or at the office! Planning on a traditional afternoon tea party? Place your order for the weekend, and The Grand Tea Room will have it ready for you. Gift certificates are also available by phone at (760) 233-9500.

Also don’t miss taking home a tea-themed memento or any of the 45 loose leaf teas on the shelves in the gift shop.

For a spot of Afternoon Tea served in style, make your way to The Grand Tea Room in the historical downtown district of Escondido, 145 W. Grand Ave. The tea room is open from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Call (760) 233-9500 or visit thegrandtearoom.com.

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