Tea is life. Well, a big part of mine, anyway. Even as a toddler I was sipping it, prepared with cream and sugar by my tea loving German mother. I remember her once taking me on a lunch break from my dad’s chiropractic practice, where she worked as his office manager. While we were out and about, downtown on some errand, there was a stop at a discount store. She told me I could pick out one of the little ceramic tea sets they were selling. I remember going back to the office and trying it out with the tea she brewed for me. We had one sip each, with the tiny cups that came with the set. And the miniscule teapot didn’t hold much, either. But I LOVED that little tea set. It had bears on it. I wasn’t fond of dolls when I was a little girl, but I loved, and still love, animals.
Mom and I have been having tea together, ever since. When she came to visit me in Washington state, we took the ferry to Victoria BC to have afternoon tea at The Empress Hotel. My husband and I had done the same thing two years earlier for my birthday, which is when I knew I wanted to take my mother there if she was ever able to make the cross-country trip to visit. When she did, she created one of my favorite memories that we still giggle about today when she accidentally shot a sugar cube across the room with the little tongs that were provided for our tea service. “Julia Roberts escargot Pretty Woman style”, as we call it. If you’ve ever seen the movie, then you might remember that her character launched an escargot from its shell into the air, where the waiter caught it. The waiter did not catch Mom’s sugar cube. We have no idea where it landed.
And when she blew through cancer, knocking it out in record time, I took Mom to have afternoon tea at The Inn on Biltmore to celebrate. Set in the turret of the inn, with sunlight streaming through pretty windows of the library, it was a beautiful, special treat I will never forget.
Though Mom started me on this tea obsession of mine, she doesn’t always make it to my favorite local tea shops, when I move place to place. Two of my favorites in Washington state to have tea were the Victorian Rose Tea Room in Port Orchard, later owned by author Debbie Macomber, and Ye Olde Copper Kettle in Poulsbo. Victorian Rose was changed from it’s pinky-pink exterior I was familiar with to gray and renamed The Grey House by Macomber. And I am so sad to see that the Copper Kettle is gone. It was such a great little shop, with meat pies and tea and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd!
I was so happy to find Chelsea’s Tea Room in Asheville when we moved to the area after living in Washington. For several years, I would win the vote for where my family would have lunch out, and Chelsea’s was IT. My husband and kids would sit with me sipping tea and eating pastries from yet another tiered cake stand full of goodies. But, sadly, Chelsea’s is also now gone.
Though I miss the light and airy tiled tea room and the Victorian tea shop that was part of Chelsea’s, I can’t complain too much that it is gone, because I happen to adore the bakery, Well-Bred Bakery of Asheville, that has moved into that space. And, of course, I can still have tea and pastries at Well-Bred, even if it’s not quite the same thing.
Try their chicken salad, if you ever make it to the bakery. Fabulous! And so great on one of their croissants. All of Well-Bred’s salads, even chicken, can be ordered as a side dish. Great for low-carb dieters who may be wondering how they found themselves in a bakery and what they can possible eat that’s within their limits.
But that leaves me with no local tea room with frilly Victorian spaces to enjoy. Though there is always Inn on Biltmore’s Library Lounge, I really miss having a small local tea room. I might have to do something about that, one day, and start my own! Maybe in a little Victorian cottage?
When we were part-timing it in WV, I did have access to a perfectly wonderful tea room in Morgantown.
The Tea Shoppe at Seneca Center.
It is still operating at full swing, thank goodness, so any time we stop by on our way north I can sit down for my favorite cup of Dorian Grey (an Earl Grey with caramel notes), a piping bowl of their wonderful tomato bisque, and their tower of yummy pastries and finger sandwiches. I know simply EVERYONE makes mini pound cakes and bundt cakes in different flavors (Boring, right?), but their mini bundt cakes are amazing! I don’t know who is back there baking, but they sure know what they are doing.
And for those who aren’t tea and finger sandwich consumers, they have a couple of pretty massive full-size sandwiches and even sodas on the menu.
Not just a tea room, The Tea Shoppe, as the name implies, also sells loose teas and tea making accessories.
And I am running low on my stash of Dorian Grey, so I think our next trip can’t come soon enough!
Mom and I are doing some traveling together soon, so I will be “working hard” to find lots of places to blog for what MUST be my next tea post, “Tea Sipping Abroad”.