Growing up in Los Angeles, my aunt and I often celebrated birthdays going to High Tea. It was a magical event. We got to dress up, wear hats and boas, drink tea, and spend quality time with each other over food and mouthwatering treats. It was pure perfection. When I saw on Facebook that Diamond Steakhouse had a high tea, I knew I had to grab a few of my girlfriends and see if I could recreate some nostalgia. It truly was an experience not to be missed. The best part is, Diamond Steakhouse does it on the last Sunday of every month.
Legend has it that high tea and afternoon tea traditions began in England during the mid-1800s. Historically, high tea and afternoon tea are two different things. Afternoon tea was for the upper class and high tea was for the lower class.
Afternoon tea took place between lunch and dinner and comprised a three-course meal of dainty, bite-sized finger foods. It was truly a social event for the time period: Women would wear beautiful gowns, gloves, and hats for this afternoon tea party.
In contrast, high tea was for the working class and served as a family meal in the evening after everyone was home from work. People enjoyed high tea between 8 and 9pm with fuller meals meant to keep their bellies full and minds happy.
Today, high tea and afternoon tea are used interchangeably, at least in America. In England, they still do things more proper: Bruce Richardson, a historian who specializes in British tea, says that "The Ritz-Carlton staff in London always can tell it's an American when they call for high tea at 2 in the afternoon.”
There was no better feeling than waking up that Sunday morning knowing that later in the afternoon, I would be going to high tea with my closest girlfriends, dressed in a light pink dress, a white fascinator for my hair, and red flats for no occasion other than high tea. Finding parking on a Sunday during the 3pm time frame was no problem.
Walking into high tea at the Diamond feels a little bit like walking into high society, which is a great escape from the day-to-day of my ranch life in Durham. Walking through the bar right next to the historic Hotel Diamond was majestic. When we got to the steakhouse, the side tables were lined with afternoon tea stands. We were taken to our table and given a menu: on one side were the choices for tea; on the other, a list of what the finger foods for the tea would be.
The room was full of mostly women, but some men too, of all ages—friends with their girlfriends, husbands with their wives, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters. It was a truly magical moment seeing everyone come together all dressed up, some with decade-era dresses and hats, while others simply were in their Sunday best.
The tables were set with beautiful English teacups and saucers. Many of the tables had different sets, so it was fun to look at the delicate details on each one.
The tea arrived in a tea press, which allowed the tea to steep to perfection. Once it was finished, we could share tea among the group or indulge in a flavor of our own choosing. The tea choices that particular afternoon were orange blossom, peppermint, and chai, and each option was delicious.
Shortly after the tea arrived, the reason I really came was delivered to our table: the food.
The food was to die for. Coming out on a three-tiered tray holder was so much goodness and sweets, we didn’t know where to begin.
The food was organized by levels. The bottom level had crispy bacon deviled eggs, smoked salmon and caviar canapes, and curry chicken open-faced croissants. The second level had delicious almond scones and raspberry scones. The raspberry scones came with a raspberry jam that tasted like heaven on earth. It was unbelievable. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. On the very top of the delicate three-tiered tray were macarons, chocolate mousse cups, and Meyer lemon bars. It was just as good as it sounds. Although the foods were all tiny and dainty, we still couldn’t finish everything.
High tea at the Diamond Steakhouse is $25 for adults and $10 for kids. It’s rare to have an excuse to gather your friends, treat your daughter, spend quality time with a parent, or dress up for no apparent reason. If you are into delicious tea, flavorful treats, and quality time with the ones you love, this might be the event of the season for you.
Diamond Steakhouse offers high tea on the last Sunday of every month. If you didn’t make one this month, they’ve got one next month, giving you plenty of time to gather your tribe and make a reservation.