That essentially British occasion, afternoon tea, became a tradition in Nassau many years ago. The welcome refresher between lunch and dinner can be enjoyed at several establishments in town. Afternoon tea follows some fairly strict guidelines: a cup of hot tea, of course, finger sandwiches and warm scones with thick cream and strawberry jam. Although the Brits deemed that the proper “cuppa” was Indian tea, in The Bahamas it may also be local herbal bush tea, especially refreshing.
In case you were wondering, this delightful tradition was invented in England by Anna, Duchess of Bedford, in 1840. In those days, dinner was eaten fashionably late and she would become peckish by mid-afternoon. Soon friends began to drop by to share her snack and a cuppa and by the 1880s it had become a fashionable event held in the drawing rooms of grand houses and in smart hotels.
Government House Tea Party
In the beautiful colonial pink mansion that is the residence of the Governor General, traditional afternoon tea is served on the last Friday of each month, between January and May and in October and November. Hosted by various prominent Bahamian women, visitors can enjoy local bush teas, sandwiches and pastries accompanied by live music and a fashion show showcasing Bahamian designers. A courtesy shuttle is provided from all hotels for visitors, who should book in advance, and the event is free.
The Library at Rosewood Baha Mar
One of three hotels in the Cable Beach resort to the west of Nassau’s downtown, Rosewood Baha Mar hosts a Bahamian-inspired afternoon tea in The Library every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Traditional tea is enhanced with a wide selection of champagne and wine, along with freshly prepared scones with thick cream and jams, and finger sandwiches with smoked salmon. The experience also offers local bush teas, tea-based cocktails and delicious pastries and desserts. No reservations are necessary.
Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant
This historic colonial mansion overlooking downtown Nassau is set in lush tropical gardens and has long been an oasis of tranquility. Afternoon tea is offered daily and reservations are a must. British traditions are upheld, but with a Bahamian twist. In addition to a wide selection of black, green and herbal imported teas along with local bush teas, guests can choose to sip rich Graycliff organic coffee, French press, espresso or cappuccino. A tiered assortment of sandwiches, scones and sweet treats accompanies. The chocolate bonbons are made at Graycliff in their very own chocolate factory.
For a completely different tea experience, look no further than this uniquely Bahamian tea shop. It’s just a 20-minute walk from the cruise ship terminal. All 11 signature varieties of local bush and herbal teas are blended at the on-site production facility. Short tours of the factory will tell you all you need to know about the merits of each blend. Packaged teas can be purchased in the shop, along with bottled iced teas and many fine local treats. Most are packed to be travel-ready. For those who want to enjoy refreshments on the spot, the aptly named Chill Spot offers all their products, hot or cold, plus refreshing beers and cocktails, in case a little added extra seems warranted.