Join me in welcoming guest author Kimberly Button with a review of the Royal Tea at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando Resort.
Tea time seems to be a vanishing indulgence in today’s modern world. So when I found out that the Waldorf Astoria Orlando is bringing back the culinary experience steeped (pardon the pun!) in tradition, I was happy to check it out.
You have got to make plans ahead of time for The Royal Tea at Waldorf Astoria Orlando. It’s not a “just pop in” kind of dining experience. The Royal Tea is served only on Sundays, and only from 3 – 5 p.m. The culinary staff needs advance notice to prepare platters of sandwiches and treats to be available for those choosing The Royal Tea experience.
The Royal Tea is held in the Waldorf’s beautiful Peacock Alley lounge. The lounge, with its vibrant carpet of royal blue and deep greens in peacock feather motif, is regal and welcoming at the same time.
Peacock Alley has plenty of seating options, and it is also where you’ll find the main bar. A variety of guests were seated in the lounge during our visit, including those just sitting around and talking, guests with luggage waiting to depart, and a family ordering quick snacks from the bar. There are plenty of cozy couches and seats surrounding large tables.
A piano player starts to perform in the lounge at the time tea service begins, which is a welcome treat to listen to live music from across the lounge.
For our tea reservations, we were shown to a small table on the outskirts of the lounge that had been set up for tea. It appeared that there were only two parties with tea reservations on this day (each of us had a party of two), and both of us were sat in opposite corners of the lounge.
After we were seated, our waiter came by and asked us for our tea selection. It would be wise to check out the menu on the kiosk outside of Peacock Alley before sitting down, to choose which type of tea you want, since a formal menu is not presented at the table. Our server was able to make recommendations, though, and suggested the most popular tea, a white ginger pear.
The six teas come from Tea Forte, and are served for your selection upon a silver platter. Teas include English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Decaf English Breakfast, Jasmine Green Tea, Chamomile, and White Ginger Pear.
The teas are in a triangle tea bag, with a cute little leaf attached by a wire at the top. The leaf serves up two purposes – not only is it super cute, but it can be bent over the top of your cup to keep the tea bag from floating around.
The White Ginger Pear was exceptionally good, with a smoother flavor than many teas. The black teas tend to have a stronger flavor, but this white tea was delicate with just a hint of caffeine.
After the tea was served and allowed to steep for a few minutes, the first platter of food was brought out.
The first serving was an assortment of tea sandwiches, one of each for both of us. The selections include cucumber, roasted turkey, black forest ham, classic egg salad, and smoked salmon.
The sandwiches were flavorful and really great. Often, tea sandwiches can be bland, but these sandwiches were real standouts. Forget just plain cucumber sandwiches. The Waldorf Astoria Orlando bumps it up a notch by adding shaved Asian pear, which was a crisp and refreshing combination paired with dill cream cheese.
The most impressive, I thought, was the roasted turkey sandwich, served on carrot cake bread, with a cranberry cream cheese spread underneath an edible flower. No dry turkey here. The sandwich was sweet, delicious, and pretty.
The black forest ham was good, as was the smoked salmon sandwich. The classic egg salad was really great, too, but definitely had a heavier onion flavor than some other egg salads.
The sandwiches were great and filling, but there was still plenty of room for dessert. The second and final platter came out with sweets and treats.
The sweets platter included cranberry scones, shortbread cookies, mini chocolate cakes, a chocolate éclair, a selection of macaroons, and tiny pies with a vanilla pudding filling topped with berries.
The desserts were, of course, delicious. The Waldorf Astoria culinary team is well known for their pastry chefs who make homemade desserts all day long.
The cranberry scones were a little sweet, and almost tasted like there was an orange glaze. The mini chocolate cakes had a thick consistency like a brownie, but were not overly sweet. The macaroons were chewy on the inside and flaky on the outside.
Our server was so kind as to offer us additional pastries after we finished off the platter. He said there were some extras in the back and asked us which ones were our favorites and then brought out even more goodies.
A glass of champagne could have been added to our Royal Tea experience to create a Grand Tea Experience. With two teapots of hot water to steep our tea bags twice, though, there wasn’t much room for champagne.
The food was delicious and the server was professional, attentive and kind, even though he was also serving others in the lobby.
When setting aside time for an afternoon tea, many people have expectations of a “traditional” tea experience, with delicate china, tea cozies, fussy waitresses, and a tranquil atmosphere. It’s important to note that this tea experience isn’t quite like that.
You will be seated in a busy lobby, where other guests are welcome to roam and congregate, too. Unfortunately, we had a family of five plop down three feet from us with five-foot inflatable inner tubes on their way to the pool. The kids were screaming while playing on the inner tubes while the parents waited for glasses of wine to bring to the pool. Needless to say, the atmosphere is entirely dependent on what is going on in the lounge.
A helpful hint for those visiting the Waldorf Astoria Orlando for Royal Tea and not staying on property is to valet park instead of self parking. Our waiter could have validated our parking if we had valet parked, but could not validate self parking in the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek parking garage located adjacent to the Waldorf. Self parking rates are $8 for up to 2 hours, and $10 for 2-4 hours.
Royal Tea is a decadent snack (or mini meal) that allows you to savor the culinary delights that the Waldorf Astoria is known for. It is a chance to indulge in the beauty of the Waldorf Astoria and enjoy the impeccable service of the staff. The surroundings and storied history of the Waldorf Astoria brand are as much a part of the Royal Tea experience as is the food itself.
Kimberly Button is a freelance journalist, author and TV correspondent in Orlando, FL. She is the author of The Disney Queue Line Survival Guidebook, as well as the Fun for Disney World Lines app. A former Disney cast member and Disney Cruise Line crew member, she visits the theme parks often and writes about Orlando’s tourism destinations for national publications. Follow her at www.kimbutton.com.
Would you attend this Royal Tea? Have you enjoyed any of the dining experiences at Waldorf Astoria Orlando? Tell us in the comments below!