(April 20, 2016)—One of my favorite stories retold by Disney is Alice in Wonderland. It’s odd and teaches interesting lessons, but most of all there is a tea time full of silliness. Growing up my sister and I always wanted to have tea parties just like the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, but of course it was always just pretend. So, when a friend of mine invited me to the St. James Tearoom many years ago, I thought I had fallen into a dream come true. I immediately googled the place and found that they offer a set menu every month accompanied by three teas (one for each tier of food).
Everything sounded good, but since I had never been to a “high tea,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. When I walked in I was astounded to find that I immediately felt transported to a different time. The low ceilings and fanciful shop make the world seem slower and quieter than it had been just seconds before on the outside. As you walk through the building toward the back where they seat you when the tea time bell rings, you find a wall of hats available to wear for your tea. As my friends and I sorted through I found the most incredible hat to wear during our time there. It was large brimmed, floppy and covered in lace. I felt so uplifted because I felt so fancy. This is just one of the things St. James does to make you feel like you’re at a high tea in another place. They guide you back to your seating area which themed after places abroad. The lighting in “The Library” (which is where I sat for my first tea) is low as it is in most of the other rooms I have had the pleasure of sitting in. They play music softly in the background and the servers speak in the most peaceful voices I have ever heard. You’re transported not only back in time, but also always to a different place. When I went with my friends many years ago it was just before Christmas and the theme was the Nutcracker. The music from the ballet played in the background and the food was delectable.
When they first brought out our food I thought, “well this looks tiny! I’m going to be starving after this.” However, I quickly realized that although the bites are small they are filled with fresh ingredients and are perfectly made. They fill you up with heartiness despite their size, and it’s like this every time. The three tiers of food are always savories on the bottom tier where you begin, scones and bread in the middle tier, and desserts on the top where you end. Each tier is served with a different tea (although you are never rushed, and can switch anytime you’d like – you do not have to drink a specific tea with a specific tier though I like to) all of which are also carefully picked and wonderfully paired. This was where I was introduced to two of my favorite things at the St. James Tearoom; the traditional scones with the clotted cream and lemon curd, and the sparkling sugarplum fairy tea (this tea is why I try to go in December every year). While I have never had a bad meal or a bad tea at the St. James Tearoom, those are my absolute favorite things to have there. The flavor of the curd sometimes changes (and they are always equally as delicious), but together with the clotted cream on the scone, it is simply mouth watering.
If I didn’t feel the need to be so fancy/proper while I was there, I would probably try to lick the curd bowl every single time. I have gone back at least 15 times since my first time at St. James. It’s a place where the outside world falls away and the joy of being with friends or family is magnified. Some of my favorite memories are from this place. They are always filled with laughter and joy, and of course tea. If you’re looking for a place to feel a little bit fancy, all the while escaping the outside world, the St. James Tearoom is the best place in town to go. They offer so many seating times now, it’s easy to make a reservation (which you do need to do). They also offer so many fun special events such as their murder mystery tea which they do every year, and which I’ve participated in twice. They offer children’s teas and offer champagne for special events (for an extra charge). They really can do it all, and don’t worry guys! You can go too. This isn’t just for ladies! They offer an evening of cigars on their patio, and I know I would love to have a date here (just saying). This is one of the many reasons I am loyal to this place. So when I found out they offered a “rewards program” I had to partake. You can purchase a passport which is filled with all of their themed rooms. As you come to tea they will stamp your passport for you. After 8 teas, you earn your 9th tea for free. I have never felt like anything was more worth my money.
Address: 320 Osuna Rd NE # D, Albuquerque, NM 87107
Phone: (505) 242-3752