Getting Steeped at The Fairmont

Photo by Judith Beermann
Edwin Vargas and Lino Rodrigues serving tea to Hillary Leeb
Edwin Vargas and Lino Rodrigues serving tea to Hillary Leeb

Tea is being served (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Tea is being served

"Tea brings people together. That's what I like about it," says Edwin Vargas.

When's the last time you had tea presented by a true sommelier? Vargas is The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown's newest master of the art. "Every cup of tea has a story behind it," he explains. The Fairmont Earl Grey blend is named after the 2nd Earl Grey in the 1830s who received a gift of tea flavoured with bergamot oil, from a small citrus tree that blossoms in winter. "Vitamin C-rich rose hip, the fruit of the rose plant, in many of our teas, is also a key ingredient in make-up," explains Vargas.

Edwin Vargas showing rose hips in tea (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Edwin Vargas showing rose hips in tea

Exclusively sourced from as far away as Sri Lanka, China and the Himalayas, Fairmont Hotels hand-selects their 19 exotic blends, including Safari Masala Chai, Jasmine Butterfly #1, Vanilla Orchid and the antioxidant-rich Pan Mu Tan. "No pesticides are used in any of our teas," says Vargas.

Lino Rodrigues selecting tea from wooden chest (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Lino Rodrigues selecting tea from wooden chest

In true British style, Afternoon Tea at the Farimont (every weekend from noon until 3:00 pm) is a splendid occasion to converse with friends, enjoy relaxing live music (guitar-playing when we were there) and savor the "Three Tiers of Joy." Adults, children and their dogs (yes, dogs!) are invited to enjoy this lovely tradition in the hotel’s loggia overlooking the lush courtyard garden. 

Introduced by Director of Food and Beverage, Lino Rodrigues, those three tiers of joy were graciously served after a glass of Moët et Chandon, berry fruit cockctail with Chantilly and toasted crumpets with honey bourbon butter. And not just any honey. Created by Italian bees residing on the Fairmont's roof!

Edwin Vargas setting the tea timer (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Edwin Vargas setting the tea timer

From fresh baked scones with real Devonshire Cream and preserves to mini quiches, and croissants and a selection of tea cakes and macarons, the menu was the perfect complement to the fragrant teas.

During November, they're offering a new limited-edition Eclipse blend (first in a new series of Fairmont select teas), a "citrusy zest with hints of oak cask and caramel sweetness."

In partnership with The Metropolitan Tea Company, Fairmont also offers a wide selection of other signature tea blends.

The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown is located at 2401 M Street. For reservations, call 202.457.5020.

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