Philadelphia has its fair share of top-rated coffee houses, from local startups to imports. But the City of Brotherly Love is also home to equally top-rated tea shops. After all, the brew was all the rage when Founding Fathers were building a new nation, and historical accounts show Philadelphians inspired the Boston Tea Party with a nonviolent protest in October of 1773. The rest, as they say, is history, and today, the tea drinking tradition continues at spots all around town. Here are a few of our favorite places to sip.
Named for the artist who studied at Philadelphia’s own Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Rittenhouse Hotel’s tearoom serves as an elegant backdrop for a traditional afternoon tea with all the bells and whistles. Choose from two menus: the Signature Afternoon Tea or the La Belle Epoque, which comes with champagne. Both come with tiers of picture-perfect nibbles prepared by Lacroix’s Jon Cichon accompanied by tea from a wide-ranging menu: single estate Darjeeling to specialty flowering teas, aromatic blends and healing tisanes. Reservations recommended. 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, 215.790.2533
Chinese reds, Pu-Erh, yerba mate, tisanes—you name it, this cozy tea house and store most likely has it. They’ve even got an herbal “apothecary” for drinkers who need advice and certified massage therapists providing total relaxation. 713 N. 4th St., 267.639.2442
This family-run under-the-radar gem is a local favorite for Chinese food and some of the city’s best siphon coffee. But it’s also a recommended spot for tea that’s brewed with just as much care as the coffee. Find classics including green and oolong, but also specialty leaves, like charcoal-roasted black tea, served with a cookie on a homey tray. 141 N. 9th St., 215.922.5122
Celeb chef and restaurateur Stephen Starr’s homage to classic British pubs offers a Pinterest-worthy backdrop for updated across-the-pond classics like Welsh rarebit and shepherd’s pie. It’s also a lovely spot for a fuss-free afternoon tea. Tiers feed two, but the famished can shell out $10 for another round of nibbles. $5 gets you a glass of house champagne or a rosé mimosa. But tea is the star here, with choices from classic English Breakfast and Earl Gray to decaf options like rooibos and even “tea cocktails.” 124 S. 18th St., 215.558.2500
Located inside an unassuming commercial building, this shop is where the die-hard go to stock up on their loose-leaf stash. But newbies also benefit from expert guidance by staff with more than 15 years of experience. The minimalist, studio-like space puts the focus on tea, which trots the globe from China to Sri Lanka, with specialty blends and tisanes rounding out the offerings. Not sure what to get? A wide variety of samplers opens up the possibilities. 211 N. 13th St., Suite 304, 215.568.2920