This year, winter break is a nice long stretch. The hustle and bustle of Christmas might have been a lot of fun, but perhaps you’re wiped out from the travel, the shopping, the wrapping, and the reveling. On Facebook, I read about many friends who had to roll with the punches this Christmas with flu and other ailments hitting at the most inopportune time. Whatever Christmas brought you (coal, gifts or other), it feels great to be home and if you’re home in Boston there are still many ways to do something special. From going to the movies to see the newly released Annie at the new Assembly Row Theatre to catching Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker before it closes on New Year’s Eve. Sometimes, just a stroll through the city whether you window shop on Newbury Street or a walk through Boston Common, is a perfect way to enjoy the holidays. I like to get off the T at Charles/MGH and stroll down Charles Street. We’ll do a little shopping of the sales at The Red Wagon, Blackstones, Moxie, Wish and The Flat of the Hill. On the way back to the T I’ll stop into Savenor’s and get something delectable to make for dinner. To make a day of it, whether you stroll Newbury Street, Boston Garden, or Charles Street, I recommend a “pause thé” for tea at The Taj.
Isabelle and I were recently invited to experience Tea at The Taj Boston. I was introduced to the Taj earlier this year, when I attended an event at the rooftop café which has a stunning view of the city. Before that, I had been to brunch at the Ritz Carleton but didn’t know much about the Taj. Tea at the Taj was the perfect moment to share with my daughter. We had a little time before her ballet class on a Thursday, so we got dressed up, took a deep breath, and strolled into the Taj to take it all in, and enjoy some mother daughter time together before the flurry of family gatherings, and parties that Christmas and New Year would bring.
I had the Royal tea which comes with a glass of Prosecco. At first I thought it might be odd to have Prosecco and tea together, but it totally worked. Isabelle had a tea pot filled with her favourite kind of “tea”: Hot Chocolate. Often at “fancy” places the hot chocolate is too rich or too sweet, the Taj had it just right. Isabelle gave it her highest honours and she’s a tough critic. As for the tea, I chose a Vanilla Earl Grey which was also just right. I usually stay away from vanilla because it is often too artificial and sweet, but I felt like a bit of a sweet treat with my tea, and this one was also just right. Vanilla flavor came from vanilla bean so there was nothing artificial about it. Tea had two courses a savory course (my favourite) and a sweet course (Isabelle’s favourite).
The savory course had some classic tea sandwiches such as the Taj’s very refined egg salad sandwich and the cucumber sandwich. There was also a perfectly cooked shrimp, a prosciutto sandwich, a chicken salad sandwich, and smoked salmon. We both love a good cucumber sandwich over cream cheese, which must be our British roots showing. The shrimp was a perfect bite with a hidden slather of rich aoili underneath. I never turn down a smoked salmon anything and this tea sandwich was not too salty and melted in your mouth. I forgot to mention, there is also a child’s tea menu which includes peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate covered strawberries and pots of hot chocolate
Once we were done with our first course, a three tiered tray of petite beautiful sweets arrived. I loved the mix of types of treats from the maple pecan scone and apple scone served with clotted cream and lemon curd to the chocolate covered strawberries, the Taj’s version of a truffle and a perfect pâte de fruit. There were linzer cookies and mini macarons. There were madeleines, which was the one thing we found a bit off: it was too stodgy for our liking. As I mentioned before we are tough critics (which is why I don’t like to be considered a critic because my tastes may not be yours) and having one tiny treat out of dozens be the lone thing that we didn’t like is pretty good.
The Taj is located at 15 Arlington Street Boston on the corner of Arlington and Newbury St.
Tea is available on Saturdays & Sundays with seatings at 1:30pm & 3:30pm