Tag Archives: Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Last chance this weekend for tea at the Dickens Fair!

Brochure and complimentary teapot from High Tea at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Brochure and complimentary teapot from High Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City closes this weekend, and tea at Dickens is still as popular as ever!  The Dickens Fair runs weekends only, between the Friday after Thanksgiving and the Sunday before Christmas; it’s open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday, December 21).  General Admission is $30 at the gate, but you can get disounted tickets if you know one of the workers or performers. Take a look at these other articles for more information about having tea at the Dickens Fair:

“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco”
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”
“Take tea with Charles Dickens for two more weekends at the Dickens Fair”

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Raise your teacup to Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday.

The Coventry Carolers at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe.

The Coventry Carolers at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe.

The popular Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Holiday Party, which opened the weekend before Thanksgiving this year, is in extra celebratory mode, remembering the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.  Born February 7, 1813, Dickens created some of the most iconic stories and characters known to Western literature, which are brought to life at the Dickens Fair in Daly City at the Cow Palace.  Actor Robert Young portrays the author every year and conducts readings of his works throughout the six weekends that the Fair is open. The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through December 22nd.

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Christmas teas in the South Bay

Brochure and complimentary teapot from High Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Looking for holiday activities in the San Jose area? The Christmas season is one of the most popular times of the year for special tea parties. Almost every tea shop in the Santa Clara Valley offers a special seasonal menu, and various museums and historic houses also schedule tea events. Enjoy a holiday tea at one or more of the following places:

1. Heritage Holiday Tea and Tours at the Fallon House, Saturday, December 1, 2012. Tickets are $45 and include tours of the Fallon House and validated parking. Seatings are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and tickets can be reserved by sending checks to History San Jose, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose, 95113; by email or by calling Juanita Lara at 408.918.1045.

Thomas and Carmel Fallon House
175 W. St. John St.,
San Jose, CA
(408) 918-1045

From last year’s event: “San Jose’s Fallon House hosts Heritage Holiday Champagne Tea and Tours”

2. Children’s Holiday Tea with Santa at Rosewood Sand Hill, Menlo Park, CA, Saturday, Dec 1 1:30p to 3:30p. “Children can enjoy Holiday Tea with Santa while Santa himself shares holiday stories such as The Nutcracker. As they listen, the kids will sip hot cocoa and tea, and munch on a selection of tea sandwiches and sweets. Champagne will be available for adults. The kids will take home a teddy bear and share their holiday spirit with the children of The Ronald McDonald House in the form of handwritten holiday notes that Rosewood Sand Hill will attach to teddy bears it is donating to the organization.”

Rosewood Sand Hill
2825 Sand Hill Rd.
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 561-1500

3. Children’s Sugar Plum Fairy Tea at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at Santana Row in San Jose, Wednesday, December 5th & 12th, 4:00pm – 5:30pm. For $31.95 per person plus tax and tip. “The SUGAR PLUM FAIRY will visit our tearoom to enchant youngsters (ages 5-10). They will be served tea as the SUGAR PLUM FAIRY visits each table, then gather for a magic show, singing, dancing and a Holiday story. Parents may accompany their children if they wish (they will be served the Victorian Noel Tea) or leave them in the capable hands of the tea ladies.” Call 247.3613 for reservations; credit card number required to make a reservation.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1145 Olsen Avenue
San Jose, CA 95128
ph. (408)247-3613

4. Holiday Candlelight Tea at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at Santana Row.  Thursday, December 6th & 13th, 6:00 p.m.  “A perfect respite for busy shoppers and theater goers. Enjoy a complimentary glass of of champagne, soup, waldorf salad, holiday tea sandwiches, scone, holiday dessert and pot of tea.” $31.95 per person plus tax and gratuity. Please call for reservations: 247-3613.  A credit card number is required to guarantee your reservation.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1145 Olsen Avenue
San Jose, CA 95128
ph. (408)247-3613

5. Victorian Noel Gala at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. Friday Dec 7 and 14 at 7:00, 7:15, and 7:30 p.m. Seatings: 7:00, 7:15, 7:30. Featuring “Champagne, candlelight, music and a 5 course dinner (soup, salad, sorbet, entree with side dishes and dessert)” for $44.95 per person.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”

6. Farmhouse Christmas Tea Luncheons at Yerba Buena Nursery in Redwood City. Friday, Dec 7 through Sunday December 9, and Friday, December 14 through Sunday, December 16, at 12:30 p.m. Price: $50 per person, reservations required. “Join us for a hot luncheon at Yerba Buena Nursery. This three course meal is accompanied by our holiday “Tea of Good Tidings,” served within our 1905 Victorian farmhouse. Reservations are required, guests age 12 and over are welcome.”

Yerba Buena Nursery
19500 Skyline Blvd.
Redwood City, CA 94062
(650) 851-1668

7. Sugar Plum Teas at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. December 11 & 12, at 4:15 p.m. for $29.95 per person. “Children ages 5 -11 take tea with the proprietress Dale Ann, decorate Christmas cupcakes and enjoy special entertainment by the Holiday Fairy!”

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location” 

8. Holiday Tea of Good Tidings at Thyme for Tea in Niles.  Saturday, December 15 and Sunday, December 16, 2012; 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seatings. $38 per person. Menu includes: Cinnamon Rose Holiday Tea or coffee, Cranberry scone with raspberry butter, an assortment of tea sandwiches and savories, a Christmas petit-four, Snowball cookie, Holiday truffle and Charlotte’s fudge.

Tyme for Tea & Co.
37501 Niles Blvd.
Fremont, CA. 94536 (510) 790-0944

9. Afternoon Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace. Weekends, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from the Friday after Thanksgiving to the Sunday before Christmas. Be sure to make your reservations in advance to secure a table! Admission to the Dickens Fair is $25 at the door; afternoon tea is around $29 per person.

The Cow Palace Exhibition Halls
2600 Geneva Avenue
Daly City, CA

“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco” 
“Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”

10. The Spirit of Christmas Teas at Lisa’s Tea Treasures at the Pruneyard in Campbell. November 23 through the end of the year. Includes Victorian Noel Spiced Plum Tea, Scent of Christmas scone with cream and preserves, White Christmas Soup, Delight of the Season spiced sweet potato savory, Visions of Christmas tea sandwiches, and Petite Christmas Log chocolate raspberry Yule log cake for $29.95.

Lisa’s Tea Treasures
1875 S. Bascom Avenue #165,
Campbell, CA 95008
Phone: (408) 371-7377

“Review: Lisa’s Tea Treasures – Campbell location”

11. GBACG New York Society Tea at the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, Saturday, December 29, from 1:30 – 4:00pm. Hosted by the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild (GACG); tea served at 2 pm in the Garden Court. “Join the best of New York Society as Mrs. Astor hosts a first class holiday tea at the Palace Hotel. The glowing, golden Garden Court will sparkle with fine china and silver as a delicate parade of tea sandwiches and homemade scones — complete with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and rose petal jam — delight your palate. The Garden Court offers a fine selection of teas, from classic blends to creative, modern infusions. Costumes are required for this event. Please select fashionable attire from 1870 – 1895. Please arrive on time, as tea service will begin promptly at 2 pm. You may want to arrive early to take photos at the Palace. Tickets: Advance tickets are required for this event. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, December 13, 2012. GBACG members $65, Non-members $75, Children $60.

Garden Court, Palace Hotel,
2 New Market St., San Francisco, CA 94105

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“San Jose’s newest tea shop: Satori Tea Bar”
“Review: afternoon tea at Satori Tea Bar”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“Review: Afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge in San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area destinations: Peet’s Coffee & Tea downtown San Jose”
“Review: tea tasting at Peet’s Coffee & Tea’s downtown San Jose store”

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New and improved tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe

English Trifle at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Hurry and get your tickets to the Dickens Fair, because December 17 and 18 is the last weekend!  New for 2011, afternoon tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe has a new format.  Instead of ordering your full tea off the menu when you arrive, as in the past, Afternoon Tea or High Tea at Cuthbert’s is now completely prix-fixe, down to the kind of tea you are served, and they are now only served at certain times of day, with a la carte items available in between.  Reservations are still highly recommended!

High Tea, served late in the afternoon, begins with a small pot of English Breakfast tea on the table waiting for you when you sit down.  Shortly after that, the servers bring each person two 2-inch scones with a small amount of lemon curd, strawberry jam, and whipped cream in individual mini paper cups.  Then, a plate of tea sandwiches with a variety of fillings (4 small sandwiches for each person), and lastly, a small plastic goblet full of English trifle, made with pound cake, strawberries, vanilla pudding and whipped cream.

Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe commemorative teapot. Photo: Virginia Urbach.

I was pleased to discover, when I was at Cuthbert’s for the 2011 season, that even though the staff were serving close to 100 people at one time, the scones were still warm when they reached our table!  They were your standard cream scone, crumbly and slightly sweet, but very nice.  The sandwiches included one or two of each kind of tea sandwich on the main menu, and for my party of two, we had four cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, two smoked salmon, and two egg mayo (egg salad) sandwiches.  Each of these sandwiches was the more usual ¼ of a whole sandwich, instead of the half sandwiches formerly served at Cuthbert’s; it was nice to have a variety of fillings this time, though.  The English trifle was tasty, but I thought the pound cake and vanilla pudding tasted slightly artificial in flavor.  Last, but not least, the tea was bagged instead of loose, and the servers only replenished the pot with hot water throughout the meal, instead of offering fresh tea, so the last pots of tea were considerably weaker than the first.  However, allowances must be made when dealing with non-standard food preparation areas like behind the scenes at Dickens!

Coventry Carolers at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe. Photo: Virginia Urbach.

Also new this year was a little bit of entertainment included with the tea.  The Coventry Carolers were in the tea shop, providing live music as the guests were seated.  After about 15 to 20 minutes, their performance ended, and the food began to be served.  Halfway through tea time, there was a great deal of noise coming from one wall of the shop, where there was a decorative fireplace and mantel.  This noise turned out to be a group of chimney-sweeps, who literally climbed down the “chimney” and through the fireplace, into the tea shop, accompanied by more noise and lots of dust.  Authentically covered in soot and wielding chimney brushes, they spent a few minutes walking around the tea shop handing out “business cards” for their “sweeping service”, Miracle Sweeps of London (“If it’s a clean sweep, it’s a miracle!”), before gathering at the front of the shop to sing a funny song in fake Cockney accents that made the words almost unintelligible. Unexpected guests at tea!

Chimney sweeps at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe. Photo: Virginia Urbach.

Another change from last year was the small teapot included in the $21 price; instead of it being a 3-cup commemorative teapot with the Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe logo on it, they were 3-cup teapots in a solid color, with no commemorative logo.  My guest and I both received solid purple teapots.  Perhaps, with the increased service of the prix-fixe afternoon and high teas, they ran out of the commemorative teapots?  Or, perhaps they decided that a solid-color pot with no logo would be more fitting for year-round use in the customers’ homes.

Cuthbert’s has a new location within the Dickens Fair layout, and has doubled its size with a second dining area called the Solarium.  If you make your reservations for tea online, before you arrive at the Dickens Fair, you are automatically seated in the Solarium; if you make your reservations immediately upon arriving at the Dickens Fair (and they sell out all their seatings very quickly!) you are seated in the main dining area of the shop.  There still seem to be some bugs to work out in their system, as indicated by the fact that we were seated almost 10 minutes later than our reservation, but the crowding was considerably less with the new expanded location, and the organization and staffing seemed to go much more smoothly than in past years.  At any rate, the $21 price was still a reasonable one for the food and entertainment that the customers receive.  It has the Ladies’ Tea Guild and the San Jose Tea Examiner’s “Seal of Approval”!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
The 33rd Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party website
Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe website
“By Dickens, a Victorian Pacifican serves up delectables at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe”
“When the exhibits are people: first-person cultural interpreters at Dickens Christmas Fair.”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco (photos)”
“Victorian costumes at the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair launches SF’s holiday season”

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How to have a Victorian Afternoon Tea at The Dickens Fair

Victorian ladies at Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe, 2009. Photo: Valarie LaBore.

The Christmas countdown in the Bay Area has officially begun, not because of Black Friday, but because of the opening of The Great Dickens Christmas Fair! And of course, given the fact that tea became England’s national drink near the beginning of Charles Dickens’ lifetime, there are several places where you can get a nice cup of tea and a treat at the Dickens Fair. Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe, the only sit-down tea room at Dickens, is the most popular place.

Tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe is so popular that it is almost impossible to walk in and find an empty table. Advance reservations are highly recommended, and the traditional plan is to arrive at the Cow Palace at least an hour before opening time so that you can get in line near the front. That will enable you to walk through the Fair to the Tea Shoppe without having to waste too much time stuck in the crowd at the entrance. This year, opening time is 11 a.m. Once you’ve entered, immediately head for Cuthbert’s and get in line to make a reservation for later!

This year, Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe is also offering an online reservation service for customers, and they have expanded the Shoppe to include a Solarium dining area! Reserved seatings for afternoon tea in the Solarium are 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 4 p.m., and online reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. There is a $5 per person deposit required for online reservations, or you can pay for your afternoon tea in full, through PayPal. Once Cuthbert’s is booked, they don’t open the shop for walk-ins! Once you have your reservation, you are free to walk around and see the Fair, and come back when it’s your time for tea.

You’ll need to check in and confirm your reservation around 15 minutes before your reserved tea time; if you’re running late, they’ll only hold your table for 10 minutes! Once you are seated at your table inside the shop, you can choose from a menu of a la carte items, or order the full afternoon tea, which costs $21 without tax; this is a prix fixe menu that includes one pot of tea, two scones or crumpets with butter, honey, whipped cream, lemon curd or jam (you can ask for more than one topping), one kind of tea sandwich (you get two sandwiches, both the same flavor) and one dessert item, plus a small commemorative teapot to take home. The a la carte menu enables you to order each item separately. The High Tea is served at 4 p.m. and also includes a fixed menu and a teapot to take home.

If you can’t get a reservation, you can buy all the a la carte menu items from the take-out window at the back of the tea shop, and there are a few small tables and chairs outside the shop windows where you can sit to eat your treats. There is also a tea booth – Mr. Brown’s Fine Coffee and Tea — elsewhere in the Fair, but seating nearby is on the regular picnic tables scattered throughout the venue.

To get to the Dickens Fair from San Jose, take 101N, towards San Francisco, and take Exit 426 A/Brisbane. Merge on to Bayshore Highway, and take Bayshore to Daly City. Make a left off of Bayshore and onto Geneva Ave. once you get to Daly City, and follow the signs to 2600 Geneva Ave.  You can also get to the Cow Palace on BART, and take the free shuttle from the Glen Park station.  Admission is $25 per person – although there is a $3 discount if you purchase your tickets in advance online – and parking is $10 per car. The Dickens Fair runs on weekends from the Friday after Thanksgiving, to the Sunday before Christmas.  Having tea at Cuthbert’s – especially if you are dressed in Victorian costume – is an experience not to be missed!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea

For more information:
The 33rd Annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party website
Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe
“When the exhibits are people: first-person cultural interpreters at Dickens Christmas Fair.”
“Where can I have an English or European-style afternoon tea in the San Jose area?”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American founders drink?”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
The official Dickens Fair costume guide
“By Dickens, a Victorian Pacifican serves up delectables at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe”
Food booths at the Dickens Fair
“Take BART to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco (photos)”
“Victorian costumes at the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair launches SF’s holiday season”

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