Celebrate the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party (Dec. 16, 1773) and find sanctuary from your daily routine with a stop at one of the great tea rooms springing up across the USA. Jennifer Sauer, author of The Way to Tea: Your Adventure Guide to San Francisco Tea Culture (waytotea.com), shares her picks with KathyBaruffi for USA TODAY.
Dushanbe Teahouse Boulder, Colo.
"When you enter this soulful Persian teahouse, you will feel blessed by the people of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, who lovingly crafted it in Dushanbe and shipped it to the Rocky Mountains," Sauer says. "This handcrafted, colorful and whimsical artistic masterpiece, with its painted ceilings, ceramic panels, copper sculptures and hand-carved plaster panels, took more than two years to create. The exotic and eclectic menu complements the architecture. You'll find teas from all over Asia, including some limited-edition rare teas." 303-442-4993; boulderteahouse.com
Tea and Sympathy New York City
"Thank goodness the Brits didn't completely give up on America after the tea party scuffle. Otherwise, we might not have this endearing tea room in Greenwich Village," Sauer says. "British memorabilia, including several vintage photos of the queen, cover the walls. Besides great scones, cakes and English tea, they serve excellent bangers and mash, shepherd's pie and pasties. Join the wistful Brits and Anglophiles for some fun, tea and sympathy." 212-989-9735; teaandsympathynewyork.com
Samovar Tea Lounge San Francisco
"A good deal can be learned here about tea and tea cultures from around the world while enjoying premium teas and culturally diverse meals. They offer myriad expressions of tea within a stunning environment that is simultaneously rustic and contemporary," Sauer says. "Check out their outdoor seating, which puts you in the catbird seat for San Francisco's chic fine arts district. You will wish they offered sleepovers." 415-227-9400;samovartea.com
The Tea Room Savannah, Ga.
"Savannah's charm, soulfulness and Southern whimsy all come together here to create a uniquely inviting atmosphere. The Arts and Crafts feel of this tearoom offers a distinctive simplicity and elegance," Sauer says. "The afternoon tea spread includes lemon chiffon pie (made fresh from the lemons of a favorite customer's tree). The lapsang souchong-infused chicken salad sandwich will leave you speechless. There are three good words to describe afternoon tea at The Tea Room: Yum, yum, yum." 912-239-9690; savannahtearoom.com
Ching Ching Cha Washington, D.C.
"It's a surreal and marvelous experience to find an exotic, classical Chinese tea room in the midst of historic Georgetown," Sauer says. "You can sit on the floor on silk pillows around a low table where a ceramic pot sits over a candle for brewing their outstanding tea. This peaceful haven, with high ceilings and skylights, eases you into a delicious rest from daily toil." 202-333-8288; chingchingcha.com
Sawa Tea Lounge & Gallery Vancouver, B.C., Canada
"A large cast-iron teapot hangs from an antique wooden lever as if over a country hearth above a large octagonal table here," Sauer says. "The large table inspires the meeting of new friends over a bowl of Japanese matcha tea or a Japanese lunch. Handmade textiles crafted by owner Ruriko Shimomae add a touch of soulfulness and beauty — two hallmarks of a great tea room." 604-733-7900; sawatea.com
The Dunbar Tea Shop Sandwich, Mass.