We love a party where guests get a gift. Tomorrow, that's what's happening at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. In honor of the company's 50th year, three 12 oz. specialty drinks will be sold for 50 cents: English Toffee Latte, English Toffee Ice Blended and Chai Tea Latte. The event will take place from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at participating locations in California and Arizona.

Coffee Bean is kicking off a year-long celebration of their origins, by showcasing their “heritage” beverages. English Toffee, created in the 1960s, helped introduced the concept of specialty coffee drinks. Chai Tea Latte, one of the chain's most popular beverages, was first served in 1998.

We stopped by the Calabasas store to get a preview. While we sampled the drinks, store manager Channing Alfano explained that the recipe for customer favorite Chai Tea Latte was recently changed, to give it “enhanced flavor.” Whatever tweaking was done worked, because it's a robust chai, without being too overpowering. Company literature says that the new chai configuration contains Darjeeling BOP (tea lingo for broken orange pekoe), as well as Assam BOP.

The Los Angeles-based company started small, founded in 1963 by Mona and Herbert Hyman. The company was purchased by two Singapore entrepreneurs, brothers Sunny and Victor Sassoon, in 1998. There now are 900 locations in more than 20 countries, serving 22 varieties of coffee and 20 kinds of tea.

“We were born and brewed in Brentwood,” says Alfano, who has been with the company for six years and who started as a barista.

Credit: Coffee Bean

Credit: Coffee Bean

Now that Downton Abbey has us all craving tea time, Coffee Bean is introducing Tableside Tea Service at 10 Los Angeles locations. Priced at $5.95, this will allow you to pretend to be Maggie Smith and say great one-liners to other patrons, such as last week's: “Oh, I'm so sorry, I thought you were a waiter.” There will, of course, be a lovely pot of loose leaf tea and a selection of artisan pastries. and, no, you don't need to dress like tuxedo-clad Lord Grantham.

Locations that will be offering the new tea service: South Beverly, Wilshire/9th, Wilshire/Vermont, Venice/Motor, Sunset/Argyle, Westwood/Ohio, La Cienega/Sawyer, Wilshire/Western, Exposition Park/USC, Pico/Smithwood. In addition, the company's newest store, in Manhattan Beach, has launched a Tea Bar.

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LA Weekly