542 Ramona St., Palo Alto
One of my favorite things to do with a friend is to share an elaborate, leisurely afternoon tea. I felt a little bereft, lunching solo at Tea Time.
But it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, there were tables and comfortable chairs set up on the sidewalk, and I could pick up the free Internet access from the busy Coupa Café two doors down. What more could a singleton diner ask for?
Since it was warm outside, I chose a cheery red berry flavored iced tea, which proved to be just sweet enough, not overpoweringly fruity.
A plate of three good-sized tea sandwiches is $7.95, with a choice of about 8 varieties. The egg salad supreme sandwich was good; I liked the poppy seeds in the white bread.
Smoked ham with mustard mayonnaise and pineapple was subtle, with a very thin slice of ham and a sliver of pineapple garnishing the top. I didn't taste mustard, and I guess I was expecting something along the lines of a pineapple chutney spread, for some reason.
The heart-shaped chicken-apple-pecan salad sandwich was recommended by my server, and it was the best of the three. The chicken salad was chopped very fine, making a smooth spread, with just a little crunch from the apples and pecans.
I passed on the sweets (yes, I realize that's very unusual behavior for me), thinking that the petit fours in the display case looked a little tired. Later I realized that they were probably just that, for display only.
Individual quiches, crumpets, a few salads and a soup of the day round out the menu. There are several delightfully named set-menu teas: Oriental Romance, Summer Garden, and Emperor’s White Delight.
Tea Time sells over 100 varieties of loose tea. One wall of the store is devoted to an attractive display of teapots and cups, from vintage English to Asian and modern styles.
I don’t know a lot about tea – I tend to order jasmine ‘cause it smells pretty – but I imagine that an aficionado could go wild in this place, and happily order sweets or savories to accompany any choice.