Discover the most luxurious high tea San Francisco has to offer, with top tea rooms and one-of-a-kind experiences.
You may think of it only offered across the pond, but high tea in San Francisco has a long history, with afternoon tea service dating back to 1907.
With tea houses covering both British and global traditions, there is no shortage of fabulous high tea experiences within the city. In fact, the San Francisco tea rooms are some of the finest in all of America!
Personally, I love going for high tea to celebrate a special occasion. Perfect for birthdays and girl’s trips, I love a good high tea or afternoon tea. It’s one of the best things to do in San Francisco!
There are few meals as luxe and indulgent as a tower piled with tasty tea sandwiches, fruit–topped pastries, and warm scones served with delicious jams and Devonshire cream. The bottomless pot of tea is the cherry on top!
As a San Francisco local, and someone who grew up loving the treat of afternoon tea, I’ve spent my fair share of time in search of the best afternoon tea in SF. My standards are high – I am Irish, after all!
In today’s post, I’m sharing my top picks for the best high tea in San Francisco, focusing on British traditions and globally inspired tea rooms.
If you’ve never been to high tea before, I’m also sharing a bit on what to expect, with information on how we’ve come to enjoy this historic tradition! High tea or afternoon tea is fabulous – I highly recommend it as a luxurious treat for you and some friends.
The History of High Tea
High tea has roots back to 19th-century England, where the Duchess of Bedford began holding an informal afternoon tea in her room, complete with bread, butter, cake, and tea.
Over time, she began inviting her friends to join her, and from there, it was practiced among the upper class as a fashionable social affair.
We continue this tradition today, gathering with friends to enjoy small sweets and savory bites together.
At its core, high tea is the perfect way to catch up with friends and family over delicious and over-the-top treats.
What to Expect at San Francisco High Tea
High tea will look different around the world. San Francisco pays attention to tradition while adding modern and innovative touches.
You can expect:
- Specialty teas – Loose-leaf teas are common, with varieties surpassing the traditional black tea. Expect herbal options and unique blends!
- Options for customization – High tea has a set menu, though there are often a few choices within the menu. Dietary preferences are also common in San Francisco, with vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options.
- Upscale dining – High tea has an upscale, elegant feel, no matter the price point. Even budget-friendly options have a sense of sophistication.
- A mix of sweet and savory – Sweet and savory treats are customary, with sandwiches, scones, and pastries being common.
- Seasonal events – Themed high tea is common, with special holiday events and other cultural references.
- Interactive fun – Some contemporary tea houses have interactive elements like DIY tea blending and creative presentation.
The Best High Tea in San Francisco
Ready to enjoy afternoon tea in SF? These are some of the very best high tea experiences in the bay area.
The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel
The Garden Court serves historic opulence, with Austrian crystal chandeliers and an elegant menu perfect for a special occasion.
It’s one of my favorite places to enjoy afternoon tea for the ambiance alone.
The Signature High Tea costs $105 per person and includes delicacies like fresh-baked scones along with clotted cream. While this is a little on the expensive side, this is truly an experience.
Note that the dress code is smart casual.
Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont San Francisco
The Laurel Court Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel serves an incredible afternoon tea experience. This is one of my favorite hotels in the city.
Located in Nob Hill, this tea has been a long tradition since 1907.
Enjoy upscale dining served on fine china, complete with a glass of champagne and luxury surroundings.
A holiday tea is also available for a special Christmas celebration!
Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon
Crown & Crumpet hosts an afternoon tea fit for a princess, with your choice of loose-leaf tea and a selection of sweet and savory treats.
This high tea is located in both San Francisco and Marin County and costs $44 per person. It’s a lovely place to gather with friends and enjoy one of their decadent towers!
Maison Danel Pâtisserie & Salon de Thé serves up authentic French cuisine alongside house-made scones and stunning pastries.
Afternoon tea ranges between $70-$90. Offerings vary per day as they are made in house by chefs. For an extra luxury, I highly recommend caviar service!
Sip Tea Room
Sip Tea Room is one of a pristine tea house in San Francisco, with a traditional 3-tier stand along with your choice of tea.
I just adore the fine china and ornate teapots used in this afternoon tea.
Traditional service is $49 per person, with lighter options available. They even have a $9 option, serving tea and shortbread. This location is by Golden Gate Park in the Sunset district.
The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus
Located in Union Square, The Rotunda serves a daily afternoon tea for $54. I love this location so much! It is such a special day out of you and your girls!
Here, you’ll enjoy delicious, rotating fare like their warm strawberry tart and Grand Marnier creme brulee.
Note that the dress code is business casual.
Son and Garden
Son and Garden boasts a vibrant, floral-filled affair with picturesque backdrops and even more beautiful food.
Enjoy the lavish scenery along with your themed afternoon tea. Son and Garden is so instagrammable! I have loved all of the food I’ve had there including these delicious pancakes for brunch.
Note that Son and Garden is in an interesting location so get an uber there and ensure your safety!
Pardee Home Museum
For a one-of-a-kind high tea experience, book a high tea event at the Pardee Home Museum.
This location only hosts private tea parties in the house’s elegant dining room, booking out months in advance.
It’s the perfect setting for an intimate party.
Tea is $40 per person or $45 per person for a garden setting.
Lovejoy’s Tea Room
This SF Tea Room has lots of character, with mismatched china and kitschy Victorian decor.
This afternoon tea service is cozy, charming and, best of all, delicious!
Enjoy a quirky high tea experience at Lovejoy’s Tea Room with bottomless tea service for $38.95 per person.
The Ritz Carlton Teddy Bear Tea
While it happens just once a year, the Teddy Bear Tea just had to make my list!
From the end of November through December, The Ritz Carlton puts on a high tea where they serve hot chocolate and sweet treats.
As an extra special touch, they give a teddy bear to each child in attendance between the ages of 2 and 11.
The tea is $192 per person, with a portion of the funds going to charity.
Samovar Tea Lounge
Located in the Yerba Buena Gardens, the Samovar Tea Lounge serves a less traditional tea experience.
Sample their globally inspired tea like masala chai, sweet matcha, and turmeric spice.
International eats are also available. You won’t find the tiers of goodness at this SF tea house but it is a nice place to have a cup of tea when in the city.
definitely more of treat compared to some of the other afternoon teas mentioned in this post.
Malaya Tea Room
Malaya serves one of the best British High Teas in the city, with Malaysian influences and a tea room with lush greenery.
Sample their unbeatable fare like the blackcurrant scones, melon panna cotta, and curry vol-au-vent.
Afternoon tea service is a very reasonable $37, especially with how delectable the food is.
Japanese Tea Garden
This San Francisco tea house is located in Golden Gate Park, serving tea and savory treats like edamame, miso soup, and udon.
I adore the Japanese Tea Garden for its picturesque view of the gardens and high-quality tea. This is an option if you are looking for some tea, a snack and a beautiful location. The Japenese tea garden does not offer the tradition high tea.
Imperial Tea Court
The Imperial Tea Court, a Chinese tea house, is one of the best places to sample fine teas in San Francisco!
While not a traditional high-tea service, you can order dim sum along with a pot of signature tea and Imperial tea cookies in Jasmine or Earl Grey.
I highly suggest tasting their varieties of herbal teas.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions I receive the most about high tea in San Francisco.
What is the average price range for high tea?
While high tea often feels luxurious, the price point doesn’t have to be.
You’ll likely pay between $30-70 for traditional high tea in San Francisco, paying for a set menu.
Some special events can get pricier, costing upwards of $100-200 per seating. You’re paying for the experience on top of the delicious eats! Most of the luxury hotels in San Francisco offer high tea. These are pricier than some of the smaller more traditional tea rooms.
Who serves the most luxurious high tea in the San Francisco Bay Area?
There are several upscale high tea houses in San Francisco. The Pardee Home Museum is one of the most luxe experiences because it only hosts private parties. This makes the afternoon tea intimate and very special!
I love the afternoon tea at the Palace hotel as the surroundings are fabulous!
What is the best afternoon tea in San Francisco for dietary preferences?
My top picks for dietary restrictions include Lovejoy’s Tea Room, The Secret Garden Tea House, and Samovar Tea Lounge.
These locations either have vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan menus, with options to customize set menus to fit your dietary needs.
With this said, many high tea rooms can make accommodations if you simply call ahead!
With that, I’ve shared all I know about enjoying high tea in San Francisco. Choose any tea room from this list to guarantee an unforgettable experience filled with good food, a gorgeous atmosphere, and even better company.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in guiding your San Francisco culinary journey. Looking for even more recommendations in the area? Check out this post on the 11 best rooftop restaurants in San Francisco!