On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I stepped into what felt like a scene from Alice in Wonderland. When I found myself on the rooftop of a boutique hotel overlooking the Hollywood Hills, seated at a long table adorned with porcelain teapots, lace doilies, miniature sandwiches, scones, and all the cannabis I could ask for, I knew immediately that this particular fête — White Rabbit High Tea — would be magical.
Among the latest, most creative trends in cannabis culture, High Tea lures both novice and experienced consumers alike, looking for a unique entry point into cannabis culture, or simply another way to get high with friends. With its whimsical aesthetics, culinary delights, and Mad Hatter-style tea time chatter, White Rabbit is setting the standard.
Founder Jessica Cole started White Rabbit some three years ago after a decade of hosting High Teas up and down the west coast; now she's expanded the brand from Los Angeles into Seattle, Palm Springs, and Oregon. “I may not have invented the concept of a High Tea, but White Rabbit High Tea is my particular take on it," said Cole. “We work with incredible chefs on our dishes, but our food menu is not medicated. [Instead,] we rely on our brand partners to provide the cannabis in whatever form they have been inspired to present it, whether that be grown flower, vapes, wax, edibles, or drinkables. We know that our guests are going to be very high from these products, and will want to munch on something non-infused to regulate their experience.”
In essence, you get the best of both worlds. For me, infused bite-sized cookies by Original Pot Co. in flavors like white chocolate macadamia nut kept me floating on a lovely cloud of sugar and THC throughout the afternoon. Every place setting also had rolling papers, cannabis flower, and CBD vaporizers handy. (An old trick: In case the THC high becomes too much for anyone at the table, inhaling CBD can help ease the high and balance the experience.)
Guests and staff came dressed in their tumbling-down-the-rabbit-hole-in-LA best. Top hats, lacey parasols, rainbow glitter, tutus, butterfly wings, and enough Wonderland-themed knick knacks scattered along the tables could make you believe you were in the Queen of Hearts’ court. Magic was in the air of course, with tarot card divinators and palm readers there to provide clarity and ethereal wisdom to the scene.
The non-infused food was indeed excellent, featuring light fare like avocado toast with pomegranate seeds and glazed-banana brownie puffs. Portions were dished out liberally, the French maid-clad servers diligently refilling plates and glasses at the slightest suggestion of emptiness, and always with glowing smiles and perfect timing.
“In an increasingly health conscious society, we are seeking more ways to relax or have fun in a new way that might not involve alcohol,” said Cole. “White Rabbit is simply a way to frame a conversation that is already happening: People want to use cannabis together with one another, but there’s still a stigma. They shouldn't feel ashamed or need to hide it anymore." To the contrary, White Rabbit is an opportunity for cannabis consumers to come out of the closet in their Sunday best, to dress up for the occasion of simply enjoying the flower, and some tea, with friends, new and old. "Deep down, I believe cannabis’s true purpose is to bring people together," said Cole. "That in and of itself should be celebrated!”
As the tea party settled down with the setting sun, igniting the rooftop with that fuchsia glow LA is famous for, one guest — a Baby Boomer overcome with emotion — stood from her seat to toast our hosts and fellow diners. She thanked us all for fostering a safe space where she could feel comfortable consuming, a corner of the world where cannabis is celebrated. High Tea is a party that, if only for a few moments, lets a person forget the outside world, live a fantasy, and enjoy cannabis with their friends under a warm sky.
Photos courtesy of Anita Wilson