A stroll along Old South Pearl Street provides all the inspiration needed for an at-home tea party.
To the Japanese, it's chanoyu, a complex ritual with Zen underpinnings; for the Brits, it's afternoon tea, the mark of civilized society. And Americans? Lacking a culturally significant equivalent (outside of Boston in 1773, that is), it's handy to know that a single trip down Old South Pearl yields everything needed to take a cup of tea from a Lipton break to a properly restorative ceremony.
Tea from Seven Cups
Featuring everything from rock oolongs to rare puer cakes, and hosting regular tastings with the resident expert, this is Denver's foremost tea showcase. Connoisseurs, says general manager Jennifer Hedrick, shouldn't miss the Jun Shan Yin Zhen ($24.30 per 25 grams), a yellow tea. For novices, she recommends the Dian Hong Jin Ya ($11.70 per 50 grams), which "for a black tea is really sweet, because it's made with young buds rather than mature leaves." 1882 S. Pearl St., 303-777-2877, www.sevencupsdenver.com
Pastries from Pajama Baking Company
Since everything's baked fresh daily here, there are no wrong choices. But you can't miss with the tender, chewy chocolate chip-coconut macaroons ($10.20 per dozen), intense pumpkin-pecan coffee cake ($24—order two days in advance), or, of course, a batch of the scones du jour ($18 for eight). 1595 S. Pearl St., 303-733-3622, www.pajamabakingcompany.com
Zoe's Flavored Sugars from the Crushery
($2 per bag). Named for owner John Davidson's daughter (they're her "college fund"), these sugars are handmade in small batches and come in four flavors: raspberry, vanilla, cinnamon, and—our favorite for black tea—zest-flecked lemon. 1579 S. Pearl St., 303-733-4117, www.thecrushery.com
Table settings from 5 Green Boxes
Who can relax around heirloom china and French linens? Keep it simple with cute, affordable accoutrements, like a handsome tea towel ($12) or whimsical print paper napkins ($5.75 for 20). 1570 S. Pearl St., 303-777-2331, www.5greenboxes.com