Friday, June 28, 2024

Where to Have Afternoon Tea in Rochester NY

high tea rochester ny

I've loved tea parties for as long as I can remember. Early on, my mom instilled a love of dressing up, setting a beautiful table, and eating delicious treats. It's a tradition that continues to bring me joy... but tea parties aren't quite as common once you reach adulthood.

I think that's quite silly – and so do many other ladies I know! So I've dedicated my time to finding all of the best places for afternoon tea Rochester NY has to offer! I've put together this guide so that local friends and Western NY visitors alike can enjoy a sophisticated spot of tea at virtually any time.

But before I share my favorite Rochester tea rooms and high tea destinations, let's go over everything you need to know about these special events and how to prepare for high tea in New York state.

What is High Tea, Anyway?

Technically speaking, afternoon tea and high tea are actually two different things. High tea typically refers to a full meal (like an early supper), while afternoon tea traditionally involves just a quick snack or treat to fill the gap between lunch and dinner. The "high" in high tea refers to the high-back dining chairs used by the upper class, in contrast to the garden or parlor chairs utilized by the working class for afternoon teas.

However, most of us in the U.S. use these phrases interchangeably! For the purposes of this guide, you'll find both mentions of afternoon tea and high tea. You can safely assume that all of the places listed here will have more than just a biscuit or scone alongside your cuppa.

tea room in rochester ny

What's on a Typical High Tea Menu?

So with that in mind, what's usually included when you go for afternoon tea in Rochester and elsewhere? High tea menus will certainly vary depending on the occasion and venue, but you can usually expect your afternoon tea to include:
  • Scones (often served with jam, preserves, and/or clotted cream)
  • Assorted finger sandwiches (popular fillings include egg salad, tuna salad, chicken salad, cucumber and cream cheese, salmon salad or smoked salmon, or ham and cheese)
  • Savory and sweet baked goods (mini quiches, tarts, cookies, cream puffs, petit fours, cakes, etc.)
  • Fresh and/or chocolate-covered fruit
  • Assorted hot teas and other beverages
I've also attended high teas with special soup, salad, or cheese courses! It's always a lot of fun to see what kinds of dishes are being served and it's a great excuse to try new things. 

That being said, most tea houses are incredibly accommodating of allergies and dietary restrictions if you let them know in advance. It's a lot harder to make those changes on the fly with high tea, so take it upon yourself to find out what's being served beforehand or get in touch with the host to ensure you can thoroughly enjoy your meal!

rochester ny high tea

What is Appropriate High Tea Attire? 

In all honesty, there are no hard and fast rules for high tea outfits. I use these events as an excuse to dress to the nines, but I've also seen attendees wear some pretty casual ensembles. That said, I'd steer clear of wearing jeans and a t-shirt to high tea! A day dress or skirt and blouse are more appropriate. And if you really want to go all out, bring along a hat or fascinator! 

I'll usually stick to light neutrals, pretty pastels, or bright hues rather than jewel tones and dark neutrals, since these events take place in the afternoon. A cardigan or shawl is usually a good touch for events like these, too. As for shoes, a ballet flat, low heel, or wedge heel are great options. 

If you're looking for high tea outfit inspiration, be sure to follow me on Instagram and TikTok for ideas!

afternoon tea ny

Where Can I Experience Afternoon Tea in Rochester?

Now that you know what you might eat and what you might wear to a high tea party, it's time to plan your visit! I've compiled the finest places for high tea Rochester can provide, as well as some tea rooms 1-2 hours from the Rochester area. While I've visited several of these myself, there are a bunch on my to-try list that I'm including! Learn more about each Rochester tea room and Upstate NY teahouse below. Please note: all included dates are for 2024 unless otherwise noted.

Best High Tea Near Me (Rochester, NY Area)

Mad Hatter Restaurant and Bakery – Rochester, NY

Mad Hatter, located right off of Park Avenue in the city, has been one of my favorite breakfast spots in Rochester for years, but they also have a lovely high tea experience. They serve high tea at 1 PM Thurs–Fri. every week, but their weekend tea services are limited to the second Saturday of each month at 3 PM. Note that you must make a high tea reservation via phone or their website. Saturday tea services do sell out regularly, so plan ahead if you're looking for a weekend afternoon tea experience!

For $30 per person, you'll get a personal pot of tea (from their vast selection of organic loose leaf blends), petite scones with clotted cream and local preserves, a variety of tea sandwiches, and petite pastries. Gluten-free and vegan options are available upon request. 

Red Bird Café & Gift Shop – Brockport, NY

Red Bird Café has become one of my favorite spots for afternoon tea Rochester has to offer. It's located on the quaint main street of Brockport (which has some really cute shops!). Not only do they serve a delightful tea in their back dining room – on Saturdays at 2 PM only – but they have a ton of beautifully curated gifts right when you enter the store. 

Enjoy scones, finger sandwiches, quiches, tarts, fresh fruit, a large assortment of teas, and more for $39 per person. This is a truly lovely and serene experience, with delicious food and excellent service.

Geneva On the Lake – Geneva, NY

Best known as a historic wedding venue and boutique hotel, Geneva On the Lake sits on 10 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine region. But a local follower on Instagram let me know that they actually host high tea in Geneva, NY as well! Available on Fridays and Saturdays from 2-4 PM year-round, as well as select dates throughout the holiday season, their afternoon tea looks to be a lovely (if not slightly unconventional) affair.

Unfortunately, high tea pricing is not spelled out on the hotel's website, but the menu indicates that their afternoon tea experience may feature three different types of sandwiches, a flatbread, a yogurt parfait, scones, and several different sweet offerings (including crêpes, éclairs, and cookies), as well as two glasses of Cava and your choice of loose leaf organic tea. It's unclear from the menu whether all of the selections are included, or whether guests are required to pick and choose – but my follower had only good things to say about their tea experience there!

Genesee Country Village & Museum – Mumford, NY (Seasonal)

As a member of Genesee Country Village and Museum, I'm always delighted to see the creative events they come up with – and their seasonal teas are no exception! Typically offered sporadically throughout the spring, summer, and fall, GCVM's teas are always beautifully themed with an educational bent. This summer, their remaining garden teas are scheduled for July 10th and 11th (1 PM-3PM) and include a brief history of croquet, with a game played by their costumed interpreters, as well as a best-dressed contest.

Tickets to this summer's garden teas are $50 per person ($45 for museum members) and include a menu of hot and iced summer teas, savory tea sandwiches, cold strawberry soup, and baked goods from the museum's confectionary. Admission to the museum is also included in your experience! This is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Sonnenberg Gardens – Canandaigua, NY (Seasonal)

Sonnenberg Gardens is a 50-acre public garden and historic mansion estate located close to Canandaigua Lake. It's a treat to tour their themed gardens and the mansion, but their rare seasonal teas actually allow you to experience the property in a whole new way. This year's teas will take place on August 20 and 21 (with a 12:15PM check-in) on the mansion's veranda!

Pre-paid reservations are required for this event. For $65 per person ($60 for museum members), you'll savor a selection of loose leaf teas – including Sonnenberg's exclusive themed blend – along with scones, savories, sweets, and a complimentary glass of wine. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options are available. You'll also receive free and exclusive admission to Sonnenberg Gardens from 10AM to 4PMwith your reservation; only high tea guests will be permitted on the property during the weekend. Additionally, you can enter a local raffle or take a guided tram tour of the property during your visit.

Hurd Orchards – Holley, NY (Seasonal)

Hurd Orchards offers a full schedule of beautiful themed luncheons throughout the spring, summer, and fall. If you're a fan of afternoon teas, I'd highly recommend attending one of these luncheons; it's a very similar experience (only heartier!). Of note, afternoon tea lovers might enjoy the "Classic Gooseberry Fool – An English Garden Party Luncheon" on July 17th, the Midsummer Night's Tasting on August 2nd and 3rd, "A Taste of Tart – Sweet and Savory Luncheon" on August 9th, or the Historic Hurd Orchards Luncheon on August 16th, among others.

Hurd Orchards has also been known to host a few formal teas throughout the season. Their Mother's Day tea was held back in May, and while I'm not currently seeing any others on their event schedule, I attended a scrumptious Christmas tea one year – so keep an eye out for new additions as the year progresses. They also offer u-pick fruit and have a stunning store with fresh produce, housewares, and locally made items.

The DeLand House on Main – Fairport, NY (Seasonal)

The historic DeLand House on Main in the village of Fairport is now a private event venue that also houses a secret hideaway called The Blind Pig. They host a number of events, including seasonal teas; while I have yet to experience their high teas for myself, I plan to change that this year! They host both indoor and outdoor teas throughout the year, with upcoming afternoon teas scheduled to take place on July 13th, July 27th, August 10th, September 7th, and September 21st.

For $35 per person, you'll enjoy delicious savory tea sandwiches, a variety of scones, sweet house-made desserts, and great service featuring teas from local vendor Happy Earth. Mimosas, beer, and wine are also available for purchase, with kid-friendly and dietary restriction accommodations also available upon request.

High Tea in New York State (<2 Hrs From ROC)

In doing research for this blog, I found that there are a number of promising places for high tea New York State residents and visitors can enjoy just 1-2 hours from Rochester! While I've yet to visit any of these locations myself, these spots come highly rated – and I can't wait to take a day trip to experience them myself! Here are four places to experience high tea in NY state just a short drive away.

McFarland House Tea Room – Niagara-on-the-Lake

One of two spots for high tea in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the McFarland House Tea Room is a beautiful, glass-enclosed space located on a historic 1800s property. This experience looks like it combines two of my favorite things – delicious treats and historic homes! – so I'm eager to see it for myself. The tea room is open Wednesday–Sunday from 12-5PM (last seating at 3PM), while the property itself is open for tours from 11:30AM to 5PM.

For $40 per person, the menu includes your choice of beverage, finger sandwiches, house-made scones with accompaniments, and house-made desserts. You can reserve a table on their website or by calling the tea room directly. *Both of these Niagara-on-the-Lake tea rooms are must-visits if you're seeing a Shaw Festival show!*

The Drawing Room (Prince of Wales Hotel) – Niagara-on-the-Lake

Located inside the Prince of Wales Hotel, The Drawing Room looks to provide an upscale-yet-whimsical twist on high tea. They offer both a traditional tea service each day from 11AM to 5PM, as well as an intriguing candlelight Highland tea on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5PM to 8PM (which has slightly heavier fare). The stunning hotel also features a spa and two other dining options on-site.

Traditional tea costs $55 per person and includes a section of premium tea, finger sandwiches and croissant sandwiches, assorted pastries, and scones; you can also upgrade to include a local cheese selection, and/or sparkling alcoholic beverages. There are also kid-friendly options, as well as a charcuterie-centered menu. For $65 per person, the evening Highland tea includes a choice of teas, finger sandwiches, scones, a savory steak pie served with Branson Pickle, and a cocktail.

Asa Ransom House – Clarence, NY

Asa Ransom House in Clarence (close to Buffalo, about 1 hour from Rochester) is a bed & breakfast and restaurant that looks to be perfectly quaint. The inn has three levels and also boasts an event space. While they offer dining at Adelaide's, their on-site restaurant, and offer breakfast exclusively for overnight guests, they also host afternoon tea by reservation only on Thursday and Saturday afternoons from 12–2:30PM. (They offer extended seatings for Saturday teas in December from 11:30AM–4PM.)

For $35 per person, tea room guests can enjoy a selection of tea or coffee, finger sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and curd (or butter and jam), and a selection of desserts. Offerings change seasonally, but there's a sample menu on their site that sounds just delectable – and I imagine it would be at any time of year!

Lana's The Little House  – Forestville, NY

If you're planning a trip to Lily Dale, Fredonia, or Jamestown, you might want to make a stop in Forestville to have high tea at Lana's The Little House. (Bonus: you can actually rent a room in this storybook cottage and stay overnight – what a dream!) 

Open daily for their Tea & Tour program, you can learn about the 21-acre property, tour its rambling gardens, and enjoy your tea in the dining room for $50 per person. The service includes an unlimited selection of more than 80 blends of tea, as well as homemade scones, butter tarts, and tea sandwiches – plus live music on a baby grand piano!

rochester ny afternoon tea

Alternatives to Tea Rooms in Rochester

While there aren't an overwhelming number of options for afternoon tea in Rochester proper, there are several tea-adjacent alternatives that will wet your whistle. If you're a fan of Rochester tea experiences, you'll want to check out the other businesses on this list.
  • Crumpets: A small café on Monroe Ave. specializing in English crumpets with special toppings (you can order full pots of tea, too!)

  • Happy Earth Tea: A local loose tea shop in the South Wedge offering over 60 organic teas and herbal blends available for in-person or online orders

  • Good Life Tea: A Canandaigua-based loose leaf tea and tea ware shop with an online storefront

  • The English Rose Tea Shoppe: Take a short drive to Medina for a beautifully curated store dedicated to loose leaf tea, teabags, and tea accessories

  • The Chai Guy: With locations on Park Ave. and at the Public Market, this customizable chai shop lets you choose your tea base, sweetness level, milk, and flavorings for the perfect cuppa

  • Mochinut: This chain does donuts and drinks right, with unique pastry toppings and options for milk tea, matcha, thai tea, and more – for an afternoon tea experience on-the-go

  • White Rabbit Dessert Experience: While technically not a tearoom Rochester purists will accept, this family-friendly local chain will satisfy your sweet tooth while providing a nice selection of loose leaf teas and hot beverages

Where's a Spot For Afternoon Tea Rochester NY Tea Lovers Should Know About?

Sadly, many places for high tea in NY and tea rooms in Rochester close after just a few years. (RIP, La-Tea-Da!) While researching for this blog post, I came across a number of Rochester tea rooms and high tea locations throughout NY state that have since closed their doors. I plan to update this post on a yearly basis, at the very least, with additional dates and need-to-know info relating to high tea Rochester NY locations. 

That being said, if I forgot your favorite spot for afternoon tea in Rochester and the surrounding areas, please leave a comment and let me know! Or if you'd like more local guides like this, reach out so I can add it to my content list. And if you go to any of these Rochester tea rooms, let me know about your experience! I love taking you along with me when I have high tea, so I hope you'll report back if you visit.

high tea rochester

Have a tea-riffic day!


  1. I love this post and feel like having a tea party at X

    1. At-home tea parties are some of my favorites, too! :)