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By and large, the United States is not known for its tea. Coffee gets far more attention, massive chains like Starbucks offer tea almost as an afterthought, and to the average American, hearing the phrase “tea time” evokes the sport of golf (as in “tee time” LOL). As much as this may be the case though, the perception that the U.S. doesn’t value tea, or variations on it, can also be taken too far.
In fact, the country actually has some very fun tea-related events and traditions, a few of which we’ll highlight right here.
Sip For A Cause
“Sip For A Cause” is still a fairly young event, but a delightful one. It’s becoming an annual tea party in the Central Park Gardens in New York City, with this past May having marked the fourth time the event has taken place. Combining fundraising, guest speakers, and efforts toward breast cancer awareness, the occasion is first and foremost a tea party tin one of the prettier urban locations in the United States (though it has been held in a few different places). The point of it all may be activism and education, but this is still an outdoor spring tea party the likes of which you won’t find too frequently in the U.S.
Teafest PDX is actually based somewhat on Seattle’s Northwest Tea Festival, so we should mention that event as well. This one, though, is an annual celebration of all things tea in Portland, Oregon. It welcomes innovative tea “visionaries,” dozens of vendors, and plenty of people who simply enjoy tea all to the World Forestry Center, where there are classes, teas to sample, and even a few food booths. It’s by no means a traditional “tea time,” nor something that can be enjoyed on any random day. But if you’re curious about America’s tea culture, this is the place to find the enthusiasts who are at the heart of it.
LIT at Belmont Stakes
The Belmont Stakes is primarily known as one of America’s biggest and most prestigious horse races. People come from all over the country to take in the action, and to dress for the occasion and embrace the general festivity of major races. The race may get even bigger in the coming years too, with New York (where it takes place) opening itself to broader sports betting options slowly but surely. A betting component would only make it a bigger and more celebrated event, perhaps like some of its UK counterparts. In the meantime though, cocktails are certainly part of the occasion, and the LIT - or Long Island Iced Tea - is one of the signature drinks at the racecourse. It’s not traditional tea, but it’s a fun U.S. spin on the traditional tea times you’ll find at some British races.
Las Vegas Afternoon Tea
Finally there’s Las Vegas Afternoon Tea, which is the closest thing to a classic tea tradition you can find in the U.S. It’s somewhat surprising that it happens in a place as gaudy and “loud” as Vegas, but somehow or other it became a popular tradition! While most are out playing games, placing bets, and watching shows, others enjoy afternoon high tea options that exist throughout the city. From tea-specific shops off the Strip, like LaPostte, to bars within major resorts, like the Tea Lounge at the Waldorf Astoria, there are some stunning venues where afternoon high tea is a regular option.