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New afternoon teas

The other kind of tea party.

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Tea service at Cafe des Architectes

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Tea service at Pleasant House Bakery

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Tea service at Sweet Cakes

 (Photograph: Martha Williams)
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Photograph: Martha Williams

Tea service at TipsyCake

Afternoon tea at Sweet Cakes
At Sweet Cakes, tea—offered on Tuesdays and Sundays from 1–4pm—is a decidedly unregal affair. Aside from the dainty china the tea is served on, presentation is an afterthought. And in lieu of fancy pastries, Sweet Cakes goes the homey route: a lone tea sandwich, a couple of scones, some housemade jams and curds, and an assortment of cookies (ginger, chocolate chip, etc.). If the tea doesn’t exactly transport you to Windsor Castle, the casualness of it all (plus the cookies’ resemblance to those you’d find at Jewel) may at least take you back to childhood teas with your Barbies. 901 N Damen Ave (773-772-5771). $10.—David Tamarkin

Holiday tea at the Sofitel
If pastry chef Patrick Fahy has superfans out there, they should reserve a spot at the Sofitel’s new holiday tea (weekends, 2–5pm) stat, before the remaining Saturdays of 2011 sell out (as Sundays have). Of the spread of finger foods put before you at this tea, merely two are savory (a cucumber sandwich and a salmon vol-au-vent); the rest is all Fahy’s doing. The precious, perfect pastries include passion-fruit eclairs, lush vanilla tarts and delicate macaroons, and—because the Sofitel apparently thinks your blood sugar is low—side orders of sage shortbread cookies and white chocolate lollipops. Champagne is available for an extra charge. Seriously consider it—something’s gotta take you down from the sugar high. 20 E Chestnut St (312-324-4063). $30.—David Tamarkin

Afternoon tea at TipsyCake
Just when we thought all Australian food was coated in Marmite, in walks Aussie pastry chef (and TipsyCake owner) Naomi Levine with a new storefront location serving an exceptional afternoon tea, daily from 2–5pm. Though the pastries are lovely—petit fours, cake truffles, madly rich brownies—this tea is anything but dainty: The four types of tea sandwiches (cucumber, salmon, egg salad and chicken salad) are robust enough to constitute a meal, and the large scones are fluffy and airy like the biscuits. The room these treats are served in has a childlike Alice in Wonderland vibe, a picture completed by Levine’s over-the-top decorated cakes. 1944 N Damen Ave (773-384-4418). $22.—Julia Kramer

Sunday tea at Pleasant House Bakery
A roadside bakery in Bridgeport is just about the last place we expected to stumble upon afternoon tea service (Sundays, 2–5pm), but this house of “royal pies” is full of surprises (see the stellar Friday-night fish fry, for one). Serviceware gets an update via sleek IKEA-style white ceramic tea pots and clear Lucite three-tier plates, but the contents are as classic as they are tasty: strong black tea, a trio of crustless finger sandwiches (Stilton smeared with green tomato chutney, egg salad dusted with paprika, cool cucumber and crème fraîche), scones with housemade preserves and stellar sweets (such as an impossibly moist carrot cake). As classy as the whole setup is, the experience is as casual as the ’hood itself, with counter service and a TV showing the local game (on mute, of course, to keep things civil). 964 W 31st St (773-523-7437). $15.—Heather Shouse

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