The Heathman’s Tea Court has been transformed into the Russian Tea Experience at Headwaters by Chef Vitaly Paley. He brings his native Russian inspiration and grandma’s recipes to the beautiful and comfortably refurbished tea room.
Debuting in time for the holidays, three seatings were available, and our group snagged a 1 pm seating on January 1, 2017. It was a lovely way to start the year. We were seated in some of the cozy easy chairs and a banquette along the wall. The tables were set with colorful Russian linens and a menu explaining our tea choices and what would be served on the tea tray.
It was very pleasant to be seating in a room where we could hear each other talk and also not be bumping elbows with other diners. It’s much more conducive to intimate conversation as befits high tea.
The tea is from Steven Smith Teamaker, and choices included Bai Mu Dan, Georgian Caravan, Bungalow, Lord Bergamot, Sencha, Chocolate Peppermint Pu’erh, Meadow, and Peppermint Leaves. I chose the smoky Georgian caravan. Each diner gets to select a tea rather than having to make a choice for the whole table.
The teacups were a mix of Russian glass cups in a metal holder and china cups. The tea arrived in white pots with a strainer provided as we poured. Sugar and jam were provided for sweetening, but no milk. I enjoyed the Caravan with a little jam; it was perfect.
The tea tray arrived with three levels, each with five delights. The middle and bottom were savories and the top were the sweets.
The second tier had mushroom piroshki, deviled eggs, walnut-stuffed eggplant roll, and blini with house cured caviar and sour cream.
The sweet tier featured steopka – grandmother’s sour cream and walnut cake, Bird’s milk cake with marshmallow and chocolate, chocolate and orange halva, tort po kievski (hazelnut, coffee, and chocolate cake), Zapekanka Russian cheesecake, and Kulaga belorusskaya fruit gelee.
The teapots were refilled between when we finished the savories and started in on the sweets.
There are bubbles and cocktails available, but our server didn’t push them, and we didn’t order any. It would have been fun to try the Pixie Dust with aquavit and brut sparkling wine or the K’vass Punch with rum and Russian bread wine.
For $38, it was a delightful and pleasant afternoon. The biggest drawback was the phone-only reservation system. Fingers crossed that the Paleys decide to allow online reservations.