We know we told you we’d post reviews of The Adolphus and Fearing’s tea services first, but we were just invited to the Friendship Tea service at the Dallas Arboretum, and it’s the freshest in our minds, so here goes. We’ll start by telling you we were pleasantly surprised by our experience. (A friend of ours wasn’t pleased with her experience from a year ago.) We were greeted by a friendly face, treated by the pleasant, white-gloved Nelson, and happy with the view of the gardens and our favorite teas, finger sandwiches, and desserts.
Jump for the details of the Arboretum’s Friendship Tea, which ends on February 28.
To begin, you’ll take a little stroll (three minutes) to the DeGolyer Garden Café. It’s a pleasant way to start the day. We checked in, were seated at a table (but take note: there are three couch-y areas to enjoy, as well), and were immediately greeted by sweet Nelson, the tea host, and his white gloves. The first tea in line was Cranberry Spice, a subtle tea with a holiday flavor. Nice, but uncomplicated. (We like our tea with a little complication.) It was served with Lemon Grass Soup, an amazing broth made of heavy cream, curry, and coconut milk. It was a knockout. We immediately ordered champagne—we always take champagne with our tea—and it was tasty, a little on the sweet side.
Peach Cinnamon Hibiscus tea was next, served with tea sandwiches: Poppyseed Bread with Cream Cheese, Turkey with Orange Butter on Rosemary Bread, Egg Salad on Pumpernickel, Creamed Cucumber on White Bread, and Chicken Salad on Croissant. The tea was complex (the way we like it) with a big peach flavor and more subtle floral and spice notes underneath. Though the sandwich breads were a bit dry and the egg and chicken salads needed some life, we loved the pound cake-esque poppy seed bread with cream cheese and the combination of the sweet citrus butter and woody herb flavored bread on the turkey sandwich. The cucumber sandwich was delightful, too, fluffy and fresh.
Fanciest Formosa tea came next, and from what I have researched, it’s a Taiwanese oolong tea, which is described as pale and fruity. We saw the pale, but didn’t taste the fruity. Didn’t matter. Desserts were the star of this third course. On the tiered serving tray we found date bars, tea cakes, chocolate covered strawberries, lemon curd tarts, and orange currant scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. The date bars were a sugar lover’s dream: gooey nutty flavor with a crystallized sugar crunch and a cookie bottom. Delish! The tea cakes were light and comforting. The chocolate covered strawberries had an equal fruit-to-chocolate ratio, and the lemon curd tarts were flaky, tangy, and gooey enough to be served in heaven. But the orange currant scones take took cake. (Get it… cake? I’m so witty.) They were, perhaps, some of the best scones we’ve had. They were warm and flaky, thick on the inside, and filled with sticky currants. With the cream and strawberry jam, we only wished they were bigger.
We went ahead and tried the Vanilla Mint tea, too. It took a few sips to taste the vanilla and the mint, but once we did, we preferred it to the Fanciest Formosa, but either way, a lighter tea is a good way to end this gluttony.
We spent about two and a half hours in the DeGolyer Tea Room, but the pace is yours to set. Nelson will keep up if you’re chugging and gobbling or help you move at a leisurely pace if you’re sipping and nibbling. The tea service runs from Thursday to Sunday and begins at 11 am. (It’s never too early for champagne, is it?) Though the Arboretum does different tea services throughout the year—Holiday Tea is in early December, for example—the Friendship Tea only lasts through the 28th of this month, so make your reservations now. You’ll pay $38 for standard tea or $48 for champagne tea (yes, please), but the price includes admission to the Garden, parking, and gratuity. (Plus, you’ll find a 15 percent-off coupon for the gift store on your plate.) An affordable and worthy experience we say. For reservations, call 214-515-6610.