Afternoon Tea with Lady Camellia

What. A. Dream.

Lady Camellia is a quaint gem tucked into a Georgetown side-street. To celebrate Emily’s birthday, we headed to this beautiful tea room on a sunny Sunday afternoon. My mom, sister and I walked up to an inviting painted row house; the calming pastel, a pistachio green, projected an air of sophistication I couldn’t wait to join. Here, I discovered an untapped love of tea and finger sandwiches.

As I sat, a floral plate with a gold-trimmed saucer greeted me. A small golden spoon, shaped as a rose, rested next to a bright white teacup. It had a few pink roses highlighted by gold embellishments which matched the larger plate below. Each table placement had unique china – some mismatched – and a large window illuminated the entire space. Guests immediately become immersed in the experience as they huddle together, comparing the beauty of their differing teacup designs. Picture frames of all shapes and sizes, some filled with mirrors, hung from the side wall. The interior is delicate, with a modern vintage-esque style.

afternoon tea

As the three of us drifted through conversations, the tea room saw customers come and go throughout the morning. It’s a small space which fills up quickly with people dining slowly, so I definitely recommend making reservations before you come.

I’m learning to appreciate the subtlety of tea flavors. As someone used to the bold smoothness of coffee, it’s hard not to turn my nose up to flavored hot water. However, as I pay attention to the spirit behind afternoon tea, I can slow down and take the time to appreciate it. Afternoon tea is meant for stealing a quiet, relaxed moment from the day. It’s catching up with loved ones over light snacks and indulging in dainty sweets.

Highlights
My favorites*

Cucumber tea sandwich*
Brie + apple tea sandwich
Blueberry tart
Passionfruit panna cotta
Pecan tart
Chocolate croissant
Apple croissant*
Vanilla crème brûlée

The menu at Lady Camellia offers a robust selection of both teas and pastries. I wanted something strong, but not overehelming. Sweet, but a savory sweet, so as to not distract from the food. My eyes landed on a white ginger tea. Perfect!

First, as much as I absolutely love smoked salmon, the brie and green apple proved a hard choice to ignore. For my second sandwich, I knew I wanted the quintessential cucumber. Thin slices of cucumber were layered in between soft pieces of bread, their moisture caught in a light cream cheese spread. Chunks of creamy brie cut through the tart juiciness of the green apples. Somehow, these sandwiches reminded me both of a child’s meal and an upscale lunch. They were addicting and the absolute perfect items for tea time.

I ordered the blueberry tart, passionfruit panna cotta, pecan tart, and vanilla crème brûlée. However, the pastry options change daily. My two croissants were chocolate and apple. As far as the desserts go, the apple croissant was my favorite, with the crème brûlée a close second. Flakey croissant dough hugged a warm apple filling which tasted like the an award-winning homemade apple pie. The crème brûlée had the perfect trademarked crunch; its caramelized top shattered into the cold custard layer, velvety and smooth. I can’t decide yet whether or not I like passionfruit. It’s such a distinct, intense flavor but the panna cotta immediately mended the shock of it. Jury is still out on this one…

Enjoy an experience, not just a meal

Lady Camellia is an absolute must in Georgetown. I’m a huge fan of a classic brunch with eggs benedict and mimosas. However, sometimes you need to break from tradition. You won’t be disappointed when the waitress presents your table with a tower of elegant finger foods. The service here is perfect; in no way do they rush you and they swiftly come and go to intrude as little as possible.

At the end of this beautiful experience, my mom surprised us both with our own teacup. Elated and in awe, we each chose from a gorgeous box full of teacups and their matching saucers. My cup, bright white with a brushstroke scarlet flower, is my precious memento. When I sip from it, I’ll be taken back to this charming morning spent with my mom and sister.

 

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