*My apologies for the title if you are one of my international readers. If your country provides similar information to the following links I provide, please let us know in the comments! We would love to hear.

If you don’t know the answer to this question, you need to find out! I live by at least three and it’s always a treat to visit them. I especially enjoy wooing soon-to-be fans of Afternoon Tea by taking them to places where I know they’ll experience the best.

There are a number of ways to find a great tearoom near you. First of all, every spring, Tea Experience magazine surveys its readers for the Readers’ Choice Awards. Afternoon Tea fans vote on the best small town tearoom, big city tearoom, best Bed and Breakfast tea, Best Spa Tea, etc. Is one of the winners close to you? Last year, Afternoon to Remember, a tearoom within a 40-minute drive to my home one Best Small City/Town Tearoom in America. This year, Rose Mountain Manor, a Bed-n-Breakfast within a 30-minute drive won in the Best B-n-B Tea category. Congratulations to my local tea comrades!

Second, the websites Great Tearooms of America and TeaMap sponsored by Adagio Teas allow you to search tearooms based on your zip code. I also visit these sites when I make travel plans: my mother and I discovered Vintage Tea Leaf in Long Beach this way. Great Tearooms of America provides you a personal listing based on distance from the zip code you entered and information about the tearoom based on what the tearoom owner submits. Important note: This information often changes and it’s a good idea to call ahead when making your plans.

I personally find TeaMap the most helpful. Customers review their experiences which gives you a chance to learn more about the tearoom before visiting it. The tearooms are also categorized by location depending on the zip code you enter. Those rated among the Top 5% earn a blue ribbon making it easy for you to spot the best.

Again, it’s important to remember that not all tearooms are created equal. Opening a tearoom works like many hospitality businesses. Often the idea of working in hospitality is romanticized and new business owners forget it is hard physical work and easy to perform poorly. There are two new tearooms in my area that opened within the last year. I don’t recommend either of them when asked. Two others within forty miles have closed since I started my business 18 months ago. Here are the top three questions I ask when I do investigate new tearooms.

  1. Is it recommended by others, especially someone I know who often visit tearooms?
  2. How am I received when I call on the phone? Are they patient with my questions and seem interested in meeting my needs?
  3. Is their website up-to-date and professional? Does it offer a sample menu with variety?

Some of you may care about a tearoom’s atmosphere. For example, I recommend another semi-local tearoom, Earl Grey Manor Tea Salon often because men feel more comfortable in their art deco environment than in a Victorian setting. And, honestly, I always judge a tearoom harshly if they don’t respect the Tea Party’s Most Important Ingredient. It amazes me how often this is overlooked.

We would love to hear in the comments below about your best and worst tearoom experience. How do you decide whether to visit a tearoom?