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Pinkies up!

In this modern age of go, go, go push the pause button and enjoy a spot of tea

Steeped in Comfort invites sippers to sit down for a spot of tea. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Oh sure, between deadlines and jam-packed schedules you might be tempted to hit the drive-thru window and get all jacked on quad shot espressos, but sometimes the best thing to do is slow your roll. Call up some company, put down your smartphone and wind down with afternoon tea. Not only is it an excellent opportunity to connect with friends, tea benefits the mind, body and soul, as well. Some blends are rich in antioxidants and the ritual of drinking tea: the steeping, steaming hot mug, aromas and slow sips all contribute to a moment of blissful Zen.

Here are a few tea houses in the South Sound that provide both high tea experiences and casual moments to sip and savor:

Mad Hat Tea Company is an urban tea house in the heart of Tacoma's downtown. The vibe is boho and artsy, reminiscent of hanging out in the raddest living room in all of town. Bonus, an eclectic collection of local art adorns the space and the delectable selection of loose leaf tea blends is compelling and vast. (heck, even the labels are emblazoned with crafty names and neat imagery). The space exudes a cozy and chill vibe that pairs well with a steaming cuppa tea. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; closed Sunday, 1130 Commerce St., Tacoma, 253.441.2111,

For more of a high tea elegance, tea lovers should visit Olive Branch Café and Tea. Housed in Freighthouse Square, the space boasts intricate doily tablecloths, lush red accents and antique furnishings. They even have a grand piano with an inhouse pianist tickling the ivories five days a week, adding to the reasons why this is the perfect space to host a tea-party-themed gathering. Reservations are encouraged for the tea party experience, but drop-ins are welcome. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; closed Sunday-Monday, 2501 E. D St., Tacoma, 252.330.6511,

British Bites delights with fresh pots of tea paired with all sorts of baked treats. Scones, knobbies, tarts and flapjacks galore can be nibbled upon or diners in pairs of two or more can indulge in the Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Service, which includes the whole shebang from salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches to cherry bakewell, lemon tarts and scones with jam and clotted cream. They even have a (mostly) gluten-free afternoon tea option. Reservations are recommended for the afternoon tea option. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon-4 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday, 720 E. Main St., Puyallup, 253.200.2342,

Nestled in a small strip mall in Lakewood, you'll discover Steeped in Comfort. The space is simply charming and the offerings are delicious. Homemade quiche, sandwiches, salads and a soup du jour are complemented by house-made scones served with raspberry jam, zesty lemon curd and whipped sweet cream made fresh each day. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday-Sunday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday-Friday; closed Monday, 11016 Gravelly Lake Dr., Lakewood, 253.582.1336,

The Secret Garden Tea Room and Gift Shop will transport you immediately to the era that afternoon tea was simply a part of the lifestyle. A Victorian mansion boasts a stylish and elegant interior where patrons can enjoy a scrumptious meal or afternoon tea. Attention to detail includes fine china and antique glassware adding to the ambiance. House-made soups, scones and more are to be savored while the gift shop sells wares including bone china teacups, chic home décor and dreamy jewelry. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday; closed Monday-Tuesday, 1711 Elm St., Sumner, 253.826.4479,

Encore Chocolates and Teas boasts not only teas but ... yea, chocolates. How did you guess? Think artisan and exotic cocoa delights paired with well-steeped sippers. You can sit back and take it all in at the atrium while seated, cozied up to a potted tree inside the historic Caledonia Hotel. 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday, 116 5th Ave. SE, Olympia, 360.350.0833

There are also some fabulous retail spaces where one can sip and savor and talk all things tea-related. Here are a few:

Tea Madame - Two locations: 16009 60th St. E., Sumner; 5939 Steilacoom Blvd., Lakewood,

Mimi's Teas - 618 Regents Blvd., Fircrest, 253.820.8998,

Shen Zen Tea - 625 Black Lake Blvd., Olympia, 206.414.9533,

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