OG of Tea Time: The Brown Palace


Image via Dylan Boxer

Afternoon tea at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa on April 9, 2018, in Denver, Colo.

Bursting forth from the busy streets of downtown Denver, you find yourself transported to the year 1892. It’s afternoon tea at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, and you are invited to relax and enjoy all of its robust finery.

The tradition of afternoon tea dates back to early nineteenth-century Europe. It was a social event observed by the upper class; a time to break away from the current drama and discuss anything from politics to gossip. Like many practices performed by the privileged, the trend spread overseas and, eventually, made its way to the fair city of Denver.

From start to finish, the experience of afternoon tea is rich with delightful history. As you enter the anxious blades of the hotel’s revolving door, you’re greeted with the mellow scent of cherry wood, accompanied by the residual fragrance of cigar smoke emanating from the Palace Arms bar across the hall.

Proceeding to the service desk to announce your reservation, the view of the atrium lobby opens up like an oyster presenting a pearl. It’s awe-inspiring the way the natural light from the glass skylight embellishes the grandeur of the atrium. The architecture is reminiscent of what might have been seen on the Titanic.

Image via Dylan Boxer
Tea time in the atrium of The Brown Palace.

The maître d’ then seats you at a comfortable, antique-style dining table with cushioned chairs beneath the skylight. The soothing sounds of live piano lull you into a state of comfort. A waiter approaches you with a red menu, inscribed with The Brown Palace coat of arms. Your journey is about to begin.

Image via Dylan Boxer
A table set for tea time.

For this particular occasion, Mariana Ababeia, who has worked at The Brown Palace for twelve years, recommends the Organic Brown Palace Crown Jewel tea. “It’s like a full-bodied English breakfast,” says Ababeia.

The tea is a blend of Assam and Ceylon black teas that starts with a bright, malty quality and finishes with a robust, yet refined flavor as it leaves the palate. This house-mixed blend pairs perfectly with the array of treats that come with it. Other tea selections range from a bergamot-filled Earl Grey to spiced chai. If caffeine isn’t your style, a selection of luscious herbal teas are also offered.


Image via Dylan Boxer
The Brown Palace Crown Jewel tea is exclusive to the hotel.

Afternoon tea isn’t just a time to lounge and sip, but also a time to enjoy a variety of light fare the hotel offers with each package ordered. Every month the selection of treats is tweaked to display the wide spectrum of food offered during tea time.

Scones, finger sandwiches and mini desserts are served on a multi-tiered platter and accompanied by Devonshire cream. The bottom level of the platter houses a warm homemade, buttermilk scone and a strawberry lemon scone. Three finger sandwiches rest in the middle layer: a curry egg salad sandwich, a ham with horseradish aioli sandwich and a cucumber dill cream cheese sandwich. Lastly, the top layer displays several kinds of desserts, such as a lavender honey tartlet, a caramel chocolate truffle and strawberry preserve shortbread.

Image via Dylan Boxer
House-made scones, finger sandwiches and mini desserts come with each order of tea.

Allergies? No worries, The Brown Palace has no problem catering to those with dietary restrictions. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available for those with sensitivities. All bakery items and pastries are made in the hotel to ensure freshness and quality.

Tea-infused cocktails are also offered, in addition to your order, after 4:30 p.m. Sandy House, the lobby tea manager, recommends a drink named The Lady Grey 75. “We took our Lady Grey tea with lavender and steeped it into a simple syrup.” It is The Brown Palace’s spin on the popular drink, The French 75.

Overall, the quality of everything served is astounding. The waitstaff is incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the area and very friendly. Enjoying the tea and savoring all the hotel has to offer makes one feel like nobility.

That being said, the price tag on such luxuries are bit high. Afternoon tea at The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa will cost, at a minimum, $40 per person.

“It might seem like a lot for hot water and scones,” jokes House. “But it’s much more than that. All of our teas are organic and locally sourced, you’ve also got the entertainment aspect as well as the ambiance.”

The time spent on this trip back to a more sophisticated era will be one of satisfaction and splendor that will definitely leave a pleasant taste in your mouth.

If you’d like to venture into the world of afternoon tea and taste the authenticity for yourself, visit the Brown Palace website to reserve a spot.