Afternoon Tea at The Plaza

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The Plaza is what comes to mind when anyone mentions afternoon tea in New York City. Is it worth the hype? Read on for my review of the service, the tea, and the food.

  • Iconic afternoon tea at The Plaza, right across from Central Park.
  • Traditional afternoon tea service with 3 courses and pot of tea.
  • Three different afternoon tea options, including one for kids called Children’s Eloise Tea.
Three-tiered tray filled with food on a table with tea cup and teapot.

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The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel New York

The Plaza is the one place most people think of when they think of afternoon tea in New York City.

Situated directly across from Central Park, the luxury hotel’s location can’t be beat. Looking majestic and regal, The Plaza is a sight to behold for tourists and locals alike.

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The hotel is iconic and the afternoon tea served inside The Palm Court is considered a quintessential New York experience.

Because The Plaza is well aware how popular their afternoon tea is, they can charge a lot more than most afternoon tea places, and they do.

RELATED: Places in New York City for Afternoon Tea

What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea started as a way for a Duchess in England, in the 1840s, to have a small bite to fend off hunger between lunch and dinner. This habit of having a light meal became afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea is a set menu. You order per person and each order comes with a pot of tea and three courses of food that consist of tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets on a three-tiered tray.

You don’t pick the food items because afternoon tea is a set menu, which means you get what everyone else gets.

All food items can usually be eaten in two bites with your fingers, from the tea sandwiches to the sweets.

Afternoon tea is not the same thing as high tea.

If you want high tea, that meal would involve meat dishes and baked beans, not finger sandwiches and mini desserts.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Menu

The Plaza has three afternoon tea options. Throughout the year, they’ll offer specially themed teas. Prices as of 2023.

Central Park Tea
$118 per person
This is the classic and what I always order. Tea sandwiches, scones, and a variety of bite-sized sweets. Champagne can be added for an additional fee.

Grand Imperial Tea
$599 for two people
Yup, you read that right, it’s a whopping $600 for this tea service for two that comes with caviar and champagne.

Children’s Eloise Tea
$118 per child under 12 years old
For kids, they offer fruity herbal teas along with lemonade as drink options. This tea service is very kid-friendly with peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches and cotton candy.

Menu and prices may change at any time so please contact the hotel or check their site for latest info.

Questions You May Have

Do I need to make a reservation for afternoon tea?

It’s always a good idea to make a reservation for afternoon tea.

Call 212-546-5300 or email [email protected] to book a reservation.

What time is afternoon tea served at The Plaza?

Tea service is every day from 10:30 AM until 4 PM.

What do I wear for tea at The Plaza?

The suggested dress code is smart casual and you’re encouraged to dress for the occasion.

Avoid wearing shorts, men’s sleeveless shirts, casual hats, ripped jeans, and workout clothes.

They can refuse entry if you don’t look presentable.

How long is afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea usually lasts about two hours. It’s a very relaxed and civilized way to spend an afternoon and should not be rushed.

Is The Plaza good for large parties?

The Plaza can accommodate large parties in semi-private areas from 20 – 70 guests.

How does afternoon tea at The Plaza work?

The food listed in each afternoon tea comes out together on a three-tiered tray and you don’t pick and choose.

The only thing you need to pick with your order is tea, which is listed on a tea menu.

RELATED: 21 Afternoon Tea Etiquette Rules

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Tips

  • An 18% tip is included so you don’t have to pay more unless you want to.
  • I don’t recommend getting tea that has a supplement (ranging from $10 – $15) since I don’t think it’s worth it.
  • If you have food left over, feel free to ask for it to be packaged to take home.
  • Afternoon tea is served until 4 PM but don’t make too late of a reservation since the vibe changes to more of a lounge for cocktails the closer it gets to 5PM.

Afternoon Tea at The Plaza Review

Interior of the Palm Court inside The Plaza hotel.

Palm Court Setting: ★★★☆☆

The Palm Court is located on the first floor of The Plaza.

The dining area has more of a lounge look with a giant circular bar in the center of the room.

There is a huge stained glass skylight on the ceiling, which gives the feel of opulence but due to the lack of white tablecloths, the room feels more casual than formal.

The tables are a little too close together for my liking and the bar gives the space too much of a casual vibe.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Service: ★★★★★

The service was friendly and our server explained all the items on the tray when he brought it over.

Pouring tea from a teapot into a tea cup.

The Plaza Tea & Tea Selection: ★★★☆☆

The Plaza serves tea from French tea company Palais des Thes.

The tea menu consists mostly of blends but if you want to get any higher-end teas, you have to pay a supplement that ranges from $10 to $15.

WHY WOULD YOU CHARGE ME $10-15 MORE WHEN I’M ALREADY PAYING $118 FOR AFTERNOON TEA??? UGH.

I usually order oolong tea or black tea with afternoon tea since it goes well with everything from savories to sweets.

Savories at The Plaza on a white tray.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Savories: ★★★★★

I ordered the Central Park Tea and it came out on a circular three-tiered tray and the presentation was pretty and elegant.

The sweets are on the top tray, savories in the middle, and scones on the bottom.

Each person gets 5 savories per order, which includes a classic cucumber tea sandwich.

The last time I had tea at The Plaza (you can see my previous visits at the bottom of this post), I gave the sandwiches 3 stars out of 5 since I thought they were sloppy and boring.

This time though, I was pleasantly surprised and I enjoyed all the savories.

RELATED: Afternoon Tea 101: Course Order

Scones wrapped in a cloth napkin.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Scones: ★★★★☆

The scones are wrapped in a cloth napkin, to keep them warm. Each person gets 2 scones.

They’re served with Devonshire cream, lemon curd, and a preserve.

I’m knocking off a star since they give you just one set of condiments, which is definitely not enough. We did ask for more Devonshire cream.

RELATED: How to Eat a Scone Properly

Sweets at The Plaza.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Sweets: ★★★☆☆

The sweets, which are all mini pastries, were just ok. They all tasted a little too sweet and dense. I didn’t end up eating all of them.

Each person gets 5 sweets per order.

The Plaza Afternoon Tea Overall: ★★★★☆

Is it overpriced? YES.

Is it worth going to at least once? YES.

LOCATION:
The Palm Court, The Plaza
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
New York, NY 10019

AFTERNOON TEA HOURS:
Daily from 10:30 AM – 4 PM

COST:
Central Park Tea, $118 (as of 2023)
An 18% tip is automatically included in the bill.

RESERVATIONS:
Call 212-546-5300, book on OpenTable, or email [email protected] to book a reservation.

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Afternoon Tea at The Plaza in 2019

Table for afternoon tea at Palm Court.

The Palm Court in 2019 served the afternoon tea in a circular shaped 3-tier tray. Sweets on the top, savories in the middle, and scones at the bottom.

The New Yorker Tea, which was their basic tea service, was $95 per person. This was at that point, the most expensive afternoon tea in NYC.

Tea at the Plaza

I gave the savories 3 stars out of 5 back in 2019 since they were so lackluster and looked sloppy.

Tea at The Plaza

This was my favorite course and I gave this 5 stars out of 5.


Afternoon Tea at The Plaza in 2013

The Palm Court back in 2013.

Blue velvet high-back chairs on the outer tables and armchairs in the middle tables.

Their three-tier stand  when the afternoon tea was just $50 in 2013.

About Jee Choe

Welcome! I'm a certified Tea Sommelier and a self-proclaimed bubble tea and iced tea master. I'm all about making tea EASY and DELICIOUS.

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27 Comments

  1. We plan on visiting New York in November 2021. When do you think we should book and what in the price for afternoon tea.

  2. Having a good read at your reviews, so helpful. We have booked a trip to NY and my husband really wanted to see the Plaza but after reading your reviews I think we are going to go with BG instead for afternoon tea. Thank you.

    1. Hi Deborah, have fun! You should pop into The Plaza for a drink instead, after afternoon tea across the street at BG!

  3. I am considering bringing my two daughters and two granddaughters to the Eloise Tea., however they are vegan (vegetarian on occasion). Would The Plaza have options for them? At least might they be willing to replace meat sandwiches with more scones or non-meat items. Another option: Is it possible to order 1-2 trays for 5 people to share?

    1. Hi Jackie, the best thing would be to contact The Plaza directly by calling 212-546-5300 or emailing them: [email protected]. As for sharing 1-2 trays for 5 people, be aware that the Eloise Tea is for kids under 12 and that they may charge a sharing fee.

  4. Thinking of making this tea a part of our upcoming NY trip with my two college sons as a nostalgic throwback to reading them Eloise books in their childhoods. If you have three people order the tea, do they bring out three of the three tiered servers, or do they just put three times the amount on one? Just curious!

    1. Hi Gwen, they put 2 servings on each tiered server so for 3 people, they’ll bring out 2 tiered stands with one with 2 servings and one with 1 serving.