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Camellia Tea Room

 (48 reviews)

828 1st St, Benicia, CA 94510, USA 707-746-5293 Website Owner?

Sun 11:00am – 4:00pm Mon closed Tue 11:00am – 4:00pm Wed 11:00am – 4:00pm Thu 11:00am – 4:00pm Fri 11:00am – 4:00pm Sat 11:00am – 4:00pm
The tradition of afternoon tea began in England in 1840. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, got into the habit of ordering a tray of tea with cakes and sandwiches to her room between meals. Anna so enjoyed her ritual, she moved it to the drawing room and invited friends to join her. Soon, afternoon tea became a widespread social practice, complete with rules of tea etiquette. More than a century and a half later, afternoon tea is still bringing people together. We're happy to continue the tradition. Camellia Tea Room (est. July 1995) is located in a beautifully restored 1897 building in historic downtown Benicia. Lace curtains, ivory tablecloths and fresh flowers on each table, tea served in bone china teapots and an ornate ceiling featuring Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers, make for an elegant and relaxing atmosphere. In addition to afternoon tea, we serve lunch and desserts, and everything is made fresh daily in our kitchen. We offer more than 40 fine loose leaf teas.

Recent reviews

    • M

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      It always is a fun place to visit. The food, service and teas are excellent. Since it is a small place, be sure to make a reservation before you go there. though parking is on the street, you can almost always find a space within block from the tea shop. There are also several nice antique stores within walking distance.

    • Angie Capriotti

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      Went with a group of 5 and had reservations. All 5 had the standard tea. One 3 tier service came out. It had 8 cucumber, 3 egg salad and 4 chicken horseradish sands on it. Averaged 3 tea sandwiches per person and there was not one of each type per person. We each had a salad or soup to start (thank goodness or we would have left very hungry). Tomato soup tasted fantastic but Luke warm. Corn chowder good and the salads were nice although not dressed enough. 6 scones which were average. Small cup clotted cream. 3 different sweets. Choc cake ho hum, lemon curd tarts fabulous, salted carmel brownie was great. Enough treats for one of each per person. Tea champagne cocktails were wonderful. Lots of quality loose leaf teas and each person had their own pot. Nicely decorated but very loud, nothing to absorb the din. Excellent service. I have been to A LOT of tea rooms and this one was in the middle. Nice starter place and will visit again but this time order off the menu and get a pot of tea. Service was great!

    • Janice

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      One of the best tea rooms we have ever visited. Food, staff and presentation was perfect. Definitely a place to return to.

    • Stacy

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      I was brought here on a date, mind you my first 'tea' experiance and I am hooked, this place is amazing!

    • Michele

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      I have had tea @ many different teahouses and tearooms and this is one of the best. Truly had a wonderful experience.

    • Wen

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      Watch out for the traditional tea, is pretty expensive I just wen with my dougther her friend and Mom and just for tea and some silly treats we pay $75 plus tip . :(

    • Veronica

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      I have enjoyed this little tea room since it first opened. The staff is friendly and helpful. The tea selection is extensive. Some of the tastiest desserts, too. I will continue to patronize this Benicia jewel for years to come and highly recommend it!

    • Stephanie

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      Went for tea yesterday with my Pastor's wife and had a lovely time. The food and fellowship were both excellent...

    • JJ

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      This has to be the worst tea room in the Bay Area. The afternoon tea was atrocious. The scones were undercooked, the sandwiches were dry and flavorless, and the desserts were horrific. This could not be counted as a real tea room but, more of a place to have a cup of coffee and a bad sandwich. If you plan on having an authentic afternoon tea experiences go someplace else. This tea room needs a new chef and a chef that knows how to cook. I can’t say anything positive about this want to be tea room.

    • Elisa

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      Loved the Creme Brulee tea!

    • Leslie Hall

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      High quality, beautifully prepared, and most of all delicious! I grew up going to high tea with my mother, great aunties, and grandmother at some of the finest tea rooms around! Camelia is comparable in quality and the environment of this charming place says historic and BENICIA. You must go!

    • Kerry

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      I have been going here for lunch or tea at least once a week since they opened more than 12 years ago. My husband enjoys having lunch here too. The tea room is beautifully appointed with Bradbury and Bradbury vintage reproduction wall paper. The soups are wonderful! The traditional tea is a celebration. I love the salads. My out-of-town guests are always thrilled to go here. The staff always goes out of their way to make the guests feel very special. It's a treat to have such a nice tea room so near. It receives my highest rating. If you don't have a wonderful experience when you go to the Camellia Tea Room then you may have brought too much of your own misery with you.

    • Anne

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      I have been going to this tea room for over eight years and never once have I had a bad experience like the person in the last review. The food, the service, and the tea are by far the best in the area. I am not one to usually take the time to write reviews about restaurants due to my age, but reading the last review made me want to write this one. I have brought my daughter, my granddaughter, and my great granddaughter to eat here and we LOVE IT! I hope places like this stay open for the future generations to enjoy. Thank you Camellia Tea Room for the great experiences.

    • Melitta (Melly) Rosen

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      This is a very special tea room and I've been to many around the state.I even had my 70th birthday party there and even the men enjoyed it. I love the salads and desserts and always go home with addtional scones with all the added jams/cream. I hope they never change the menu as I look forward to my favorite dishes.

    • Dalene

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      I find everything perfect when I visit. I must go to Benicia at least twice a month and this is at the top of my list to have a bite there and tea. Nice gift assortment too. I can never find anything wrong there a perfect getaway.

    • Greta B.

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      The menu could use variety, or an update. The tea is so-so - not always the best prepared, because they continue to steep at the table, during the meal, just adding hot water. Not the worst method, but also not optimal. It amuses my English relatives and me, that they instruct us as to how the English do it. It's news to us, but England's full of varying habits, like the accents, depending on where one lives. It's cute, but I'd cross the bridge into Contra Costa County, for better tea, food and service, and for less self-congratulatory prices.

    • Gail D.

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      I have been here several times and consider it one of my favorite places for afternoon tea. I have not ordered from their regular menu but have been told it is delicious by other friends. I prefer to use them for the special times of taking someone for afternoon tea. Would recommend and will continue to patronize!

    • Rebekah

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      I thought that this tea room was wonderful, despite the reviews. I am sorry they did not have a good experience. I, however, had a lovely experience! I have been there at least a dozen times. Lovely atmosphere and service :)

    • Rosie

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      I've been to this Tea Room before many years ago. It's nice, cozy & clean. Although, its a bet small not enough room I still enjoy this place. It's nice when Benicia has that special event each year and, lots of restaurants, boutique, shopping store etc...etc... that's when the fun part comes in... Looking forward to come again in May.... Good food, Good Tea selections as well.

    • Jennifer

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      After a dismal visit in December we decided to try one last time. On first making reservations inquired if they were serving regular menu rather than specials. Were told 'of course we're serving our regular menu'. Arrived and sat down, were greated and provided menus, etc. Things were okay, not great, same woman behind the counter eating again, food okay, nothing to write home about. Weird smell permeated the restaurant. Ate our food and drank our tea. Then different staff members tried to come and start clearing our table in an obvious attempt to get us to leave. After several unsuccessful tries, one staff member finally said, 'we've got a party to get ready for at 2:30'. Didn't realize we had to eat and run. Was a cold rainy day and we were enjoying a nice visit. Plus, there was clearly another set of tables that could have been used for the party. We commented that we didn't realize we were under a time limit and were told 'well, we do plan for 2 hours'. Guess that answered that. We won't be returning.

    • JP

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      This is one of the best tearooms in California. Located in a beautiful old building in historic Benicia and decorated tastefully from the ceiling to the floor. A wide variety of freshly bagged tea is available for purchase as are tea accessories. The delicious food is prepared daily and the kitchen staff has been here for many years. The service staff have also been loyal employees for many years and are always very helpful and very attentive. This is a busy tearoom, mainly because customers return time and again for the freshly made, quality food that is served. The traditional tea is always a treat, but shrimp and avocado salad is another favorite of mine. Sometimes a bit noisy, but everyone is there to have fun and share the experience, so not a problem with me. I visit the Camellia Tea Room often and will continue to support them. Only Lovejoys and Crown and Castle tearooms in San Francisco come close to the beauty, charm and coziness of Camellia Tea Room. I give it an excellent rating all around.

    • M

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      I have had tea here a number of times and have always been pleased with the food, the tea, the decor and service. I'm proud to meet my friends and family for tea!

    • a long-time customer

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      I am shocked by some of the mediocre reviews I found here. Camellia Tea Room has been a consistently wonderful experience for my friends and me. The owners are true chefs and the food is absolutely excellent. Not shipped in from another kitchen or even from Costco. Be sure and try the incredible house-made soups and desserts. If there is any failing here, it is that I would like MORE of this fantastic food. Would love to see savories added to the menu. The service has never been anything but warm and welcoming. I have hosted large parties here, and the rule in that case is that everyone has the full afternoon tea. For the lady below who complained about this, I'm sure her hostess was informed at the time she made the reservation. However, as noted, the waitress broke the rules to accommodate a demanding customer. The decor is authentic Victorian including Bradbury & Bradbury wallpapers, rather than the tastelessly overdone fake Victorian you'll find at some tea rooms. I am a local who has brought many friends from around the Bay Area to Camellia Tea Room, and they often return with their own friends, which says to me they had a fabulous experience.

    • Bridget

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      My friend and I enjoyed the quiet of this tea room (we were the only ones there for most of our visit.) However, we were very disappointed in the lack of food and the way the tea was prepared. An abundance of leaves were left in the pot, thus creating a mess, even when strained. My green tea also became so bitter after one cup that it was undrinkable. The scones were good, though tiny, and there were no savories, etc. Just scone, finger sandwiches,cookie,very tart lemon dessert for $20. No extra touches at all. Cute location, but not one of my favorite places I have been for tea.

    • Hermione

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      We drove a long way for this below-average experience. Not authentic but okay. Poor husband tolerated the so-called scones. Service is good but the menu/food quality is not worth the drive or expense.

    • D. Mayberry

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      What a joy to be able to return to my favorite spot! (I moved to the east coast three years ago and miss Camellia Room so much.) Our server, Joanie, was as delightful as ever. Prompt and attentive service. The food was DELICIOUS and homemade. Scones and Devon cream are a real treat here. If you like curry at all, the curry chicken wrap is WONDERFUL! The location of the tearoom is a treat in itself . . . down the main street in Benicia. Remember to call ahead for reservations if you plan to go around lunch time or on the weekend. (I've been a patron since 1998 . . . this tea room is consistenly GREAT!)

    • Pleasant Hill 5/24/08

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      My daughter and I visited this tea room for her birthday. It was in a beautiful downtown setting and the actual tea room wasn't as impressive. It was nice but lacked some more character and a bit plain! It has more potential in sprucing it up a notch more... And I was disappointed in the attitude of our waitress. She was an older lady (not the owner's daughter) that wasn't as friendly!Or that helpful nor inviting... I was tempted to say something to the upper person in charge but didn't for lack of not wanting to ruin my special time with my daughter! Would I go there again- I'm not sure. Either, or?

    • QM Alicia

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      The service was poor. The waitress didn't want to give us a menu. She wanted us to all agree to the 'Traditional Tea' twenty dollars each. I had to ask to see the menu. Worst service ever. Red Hat ladies beware! All my ladies were unhappy with the service.

    • Rosita

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      it was my first time going to this tearoom place, its nice, food is good, environment is excellent, room size is kind of small though but, other then that, my daughters, my close friend & I had a great time. I'd come back again. It's always great to compare qauilities, quanties, service, & food pricing as well. So, far its my 2nd choice compare to 'Lovejoy's' in San Francisco... They do give more selection, more quanties of food, more tea selection. Now, that's my #1 choice. Sorry.

    • Julie

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      I had afternoon tea here last week with a friend of mine. It was truly the second best afternoon tea I have ever had! The best, from my experiences, is J Henry House in San Luis Obispo. The food was superb. We were not hurried and had plenty of time to catch up. The staff were all very nice and friendly. The decor and presentation was a little bland - with all white plates and cups, but there are very pretty tea pots served. This may be because it is a luncheon restaurant too, so anyone in your party may order something else besides tea. I enjoyed it!!

    • Anonymous

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      This is a great tea room and is one of my top 5 for the Bay Area. If you make a reservation at this tea room they have a place card with your name and the number in your party on your table. The pricing is very reasonable and their traditional afternoon tea is excellent. On my last visit we were served: 2 scones - 1 current, 1 lemon poppy seed served with strawberry preserves and whipped cream 4 tea sandwiches - 1 roast beef with horseradish on wheat, 1 egg salad with dill and celery on a sourdough round, 2 cucumber and herbed cream cheese 3 desserts - 1 oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, 1 slice of spice cake with chocolate chips, 1 cashew or almond tartlet pastry Fresh miniature roses and mint decorated the three tiered serving tray. The traditional afternoon tea was nearly perfect (with a minor exception, see below). The menu also offers lunch selections and salads. My tea partner and I also shared a salad made of sliced pears, gorgonzola cheese, candied pecans, butter leaf lettuce and a poppy seed dressing. The salad was excellent. A few suggestions for the owner, however... On my last visit to this tea room my tea selection was the jasmine pearls. The quality of the tea was excellent. However, there were too many tea leaves in my small pot and the second and third cup from the pot were much too strong (even after a refill). While I understand the wait staff moves around the room refilling tea pots with hot water, the tea would be better brewed with fewer leaves. I think that my pot contained enough tea to create a 8 cup pot to be refilled at least 2 times; my pot held ~3 cups. My second suggestion would be for the cream used on the scones. The scones were delicious but would be better served with a more traditional clotted or double devonshire cream. The cream that we were served was simply unsweetened heavy whipping cream. I think that changing the whipping cream to the clotted cream could really improve the taste of the scones and the overall experience of the traditional tea service. Please note that the menu says that 'devon cream' is served with the scones but I do not consider fresh whipped cream 'devon cream' I will definitely return to this tea room but hope that they are able to make a few minor changes that will allow for a more pleasant experience.

    • W

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      I loved everything about it! Wonderful sandwiches, desserts and for my tea choice, I chose the Lavender Rose Black Tea. Service was with a smile in a lovely setting.

    • Cakelady

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      I was delightfully surprised with the overall food quality! The servers worked as a team, providing excellant service. I didn't want to leave hungry, so I ordered 'basil-tomato' soup to go with high tea..a good idea. Desserts were yummy & differet. Nice job ladies!

    • A.

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      The atmosphere of this tea room is great with ceiling moldsings, cute lamps, and warm colors. It's small, quaint and what better town than Benicia to be it's home? A walk in historical downtown is the perfect ending to your tea. They stay busy, so reservations are always a must. Service is good, but expect a slow relaxing tea experience. Also, the food is amazing. The quality and flavor is good - expecially their salads. The only downfall is that it's pretty expensive, so plan on paying a pretty penny and leaving not quite full. But, it's a great experience and a wonderful tea room - one of my favorites in the area.

    • Brian

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      REVIEW BY A GUY: I made a reservation, got delayed by traffic, called to change our time, and the staff was very helpful and gracious even on a busy day. Took my wife to Camellia Tea Room for her birthday. We were both very pleased with the tasty food and great service (the waitress was friendly and touchy-feely in a good and appropriate way). I had traditional tea (scones were to die for), my wife had butternut squash soup (outstanding) and shrimp salad. Cost was about $20 per person, but well worth it. I'm so glad we went. Great date place, guys!

    • rl

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      Superb...one of the best in the Bay Area. A wide array of teas; excellent savories and desserts; a full, tasty lunch menu; a fine, relaxed setting. Along with Captain's Cottage, your best bet in the East Bay

    • Liz Meyer

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      I recently visited the Camellia Tea Room with my two children (ages 7 and 5) and had a wonderful meal. The staff was very warm and friendly and seemed to enjoy showing the kids how to properly serve tea. The menu was varied and the atmosphere was elegant, but not stuffy. I recommend the cashew chicken salad. We'll definitely go back.

    • Jillian

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      This tea room had a very good selection of teas but while it felt liek it was trying to be a traditional Elnglish tea room it fell a little short. The tea was great and the Sweet Tea service was incredible. The ambiance was a little loud. As the room is small, large tea parties make it hard to talk and hear. It was a very beatutiful room and the over all experience was very nice.

    • Michelle

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      When I wne twith my husband and dad, we were rudely turned away. They ignored us as we waited by the counter. The three people that worked there looked at us and talked to each other. Then, they said they were fully book. The people were very unprofessional and seemed selective on who they 'allowed' in. I do not recommend this place. I have been to may tea houses including in different places in the world.

    • undisclosed

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      I have been to this tea room several times, and have never been disappointed. The selection of teas offered is widely varied, and the menu is full. I liked the option to add on ala carte items to the full tea service. The room is decorated in warm and inviting designs and colors. I would recommend this tea room, and will be revisiting it again!

    • Kell

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      (Note: I was last there about three years ago, so it's grain of salt time.) I agree about the noise level. Also, the staff seemed awfully snooty, to put it bluntly. All was OK, but I'm used to tea people being friendlier than that.

    • merrick

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      The day I went (I had a reservation) I arrived and was ignored completely. It takes quite a bit of work to ignore the only person standing in the middle of a room, I could not even catch the waitresses eye. I had to wait forever for a table -which had no cutlery or napkins. I was left waiting again, for a menu or a chance for something to drink while I waited for my party. After my party arrived we waited in vain for our menus...all the while other tables were seated and taken care of quite nicely. The service was poor throughout the entire experience. The food was mediocre and they did not refill the hot water even once. Service was slow and lazy, and I consider myself a really mellow easygoing customer. Even waiting for our change took forever. (Surely they weren't expecting a 30% tip?) I would never go back to this place, by the time we were served they were closing...actually folding napkins and clearing up while we patiently waited for our bill. Awful, really awful experience.

    • BelleL

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      Wonderful

    • peg nesbit

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      my husband and i have visited tea rooms all over the world, and the camellia is one of our favorites! the 'tea food' is excellent-a nice combination of traditional british and california cuisine. my only complaint is that, like many tearoooms, they leave the tea leaves in the pot to brew, and it does get rather strong after a while-even after adding hot water. they have an excellent selection of teas, much more than most tea rooms.also, i think it is nice that they have a regular lunch menu, so there are options for people who may not want the traditional afternoon tea.

    • Judi Salvadori

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      I have been taking my daughter to Camellia's for many years,since she was very little. We enjoy the 'girls' time. We have always had a nice experience there. Still love going even though my daughter is in college now.

    • Helen Matthews

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      First time we, me and my husband visit the Camellia Tea Room, I was very impress on how the place was set up. The food are excellent and in fact, I like it so much I brought my four sisters to have tea and lunch with me and they were all enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and decor.

    • Sahrron de Montigny

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      While on a tearoom tour, we had the pleasure of taking tea here. I really loved the ambiance...20s art deco, formal but comfortable. I had the Savory Plate and my husband had the Cream Tea. Every-thing was delicious, fresh and attractively presented. The service was friendly and efficient. A previous review mentioned that the tearoom is noisy but since tearooms are gathering places, that is the not unusual.It appeared that making reservations for parties of more than 2 is a good idea, especially during the lunch hours. Sharron de Montigny Tea Rooms Northwest Corvallis, OR

    • Tamara Maher

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      My friend and I were disappointed in our visit here. It was more like a lunch cafe and featured very little in the way of tea fare. I missed the quiet ambiance, too, this is a very noisy place with big parties/showers held right in the middle of the room.