Civility, Calm and Scones: My Campaign to Reinstate Afternoon Tea

Please don’t think that I’ve possibly been channeling a little too much Downton Abbey, but I believe that the time has come in American society to reinstate the afternoon tea.

This plan came to me after having afternoon tea on Friday in the lobby of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The Brown Palace, founded in 1892, is the second oldest hotel in Denver and it has a tradition of serving afternoon tea. While anytime of the year is worth a stop at the Brown Palace, the holidays, with the lobby so lavishly decorated, is probably one of the best times to slow down, sip some tea, nibble on a finger sandwich, and just steep in the holiday spirit.

My mom had always wanted to have a “ladies’ tea” in the hotel lobby during the holidays, so as a surprise birthday gift, Maddie and I bought tickets and arranged for tea with her and my sisters-in-laws.


Walking into the lobby of the Brown Palace you are greeted by the spectacular chandelier that hangs from the atrium ceiling.

brown palace lobby

A huge Christmas tree soars to meet the chandelier.

Christmas tree brown palace

We were seated at two couches in the center of the lobby and the location of afternoon tea. Our first order of business was decided what three teas to have. We chose an English Breakfast tea made especially for the hotel, a pumpkin creme burly (which was my favorite!) and a hibiscus-fruit tea.


pots of tea

Now this was far from my “throw-a-cup-of-water” into the microwave version of having tea and dunk in a tea bag.

serving tea

sugar cubes

Then the desserts, finger sandwiches and scones were placed on the table. This was no time to be paleo-vegan about anything. Not to taste the lightness of these scones with a smear of devonshire cream would be like missing your child’s graduation.

desserts, scones and finger sandwiches

And the tea sandwiches were also very light and flavorful. One was egg salad on crustless white bread and the other was cucumber on rye.

tea sandwiches

Of course, it was the holidays. . .so cue the Victorian carolers.

Brown Palace Carolers

I ordered the tea that came with a little something extra because. . .well, heck when was the last time I sat in a beautiful lobby sipping anything!


The tea has me thinking. Usually when the kids come home from school I’m throwing them a snack (maybe some popcorn. . . maybe a cut up apple. . .or, more than likely they’ve snuck some candy or other sweet). Wouldn’t it be nice to fix everyone a cup of tea, have some light munchies and regroup as a family? As any parent can attest, the worse part of any day–the witching hour–is that 4-7 pm period.  People, big and small, are tired and hungry and having a tough time waiting till dinner.

What if we took ten minutes–heck, even if you are at work–to fix some tea, sit among family, friends or co-workers, nibble on a cookie or a light sandwich and chat and relax. Just the thought of it makes the push for the rest of the day (homework, dinner and bedtime) seem doable. We might be able to reconnect, think, and recharge. We might just for a moment be like Lord and Lady Crawley. . .having the leisure to take afternoon tea.

afternoon tea




I am a mother of two sets of twins and a singleton. I explore the wild world of multiples and provide resources for other parents of multiples.
  1. Lovely tribute to afternoon tea! Did you ever think about sending this to the Brown Palace?

  2. LOVE this post and I completely agree…it should be re-instated! How much fun would that be.

    1. Pam,
      I had a mug of tea with the kids when they came home from school today. Three of them sat with me at the kitchen island and we talked about their day. What I realized was that I very rarely, except for dinner, sit still with them and just be present. Sipping a hot tea and munching on yogurt covered pretzels was a way to regroup, refortify and transition to homework and dinner prep. Maybe tomorrow I’ll break out the bone china:)

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