In England tea time is a right of passage, but here in the U.S., enjoying tea with friends or family is often reserved for special occasions.
Luckily, Pennsylvania is flush with tea rooms serving up everything from simple cream teas to delectable sandwiches, pastries and savory treats.
These tea rooms invite guests to step away from the rush of everyday life and enjoy a few hours sipping tea and enjoying the company of colleagues.
Higinbotham’s Bed & Breakfast and Tea Room is located in the quaint town of New Oxford in a lovely old 1823 Federal-style home, which was a recent winner of the Historical Gettysburg Preservation Award.
“We serve a five-course High Tea with scones, Devonshire cream and jam, soup, salad, tea sandwiches and savories,” says owner Mary Jo Higinbotham. “One of our house specialties is Gordon Toast with cheddar cheese bacon and onion and our artichoke bruschetta.”
For special events or meetings, the room can seat up to 35 guests.
“It’s professionally decorated with beautiful antiques and appointments, creating a lovely and memorable environment,” Higinbotham says.
Harken Back to Victorian Times
Located on a pristine 72 acres on Sundown Farm in Mohnton, a day at The GGS Hat & Gloves Tea Room begins with beautiful music playing and candles glowing as you walk in to find fine china adorning an elegant table setting.
“Our passion is to share special times with others to create a tea room to escape the anxieties of life and for two hours to step back in time to experience the charm, grace and elegance of the Victorian era,” says Geri Segarra, owner. “Celebrating life, beauty and making memories is what we’re all about.”
The menu includes homemade scones with lemon curd, strawberry and peach jams made by Diane Pepple, peach mango applesauce and a delicious tea sandwich, as well as a “sweet treat tray” with cupcakes made by Ady Cakes, LLC.
In addition to intimate tea parties for two, The GGS Hat & Gloves Tea Room also has a special High English Tea for a party of up to six guests, serving Buckingham Palace Garden Party tea and providing a memorable place to hold a small event.
“People come for anniversaries, share a special mother/daughter bond and just to have a nice day,” Seggara says. “Don’t forget to wear your hat and gloves.” The Tea Trolley also seems like a step back in history. Rachael Cox, owner of the Delta-based tea house, says it is authentically English and housed in a beautifully restored Victorian home.
“Our tea menu consists of over 30 different teas as well as seasonal specials. We carry black, green, white and oolong teas,” she says. “Examples of some of our most popular teas are Almond Cookie and Banana Split as year-round favorites and Snowflake (almond and coconut black tea) as a Christmas favorite.”
The Tea Trolley’s main dining room can accommodate a party of 40 guests and offers two additional rooms that seat 24 and 12, respectively.
“These are perfect for meetings, parties and showers of different sizes. A children’s room, ideal for little girls’ birthday parties, is also available,” Cox says. “We have created a calm relaxing environment in a home full of oldworld charm. The home was built circa 1890 and boasts original windows and woodwork.”
Kelly Williams, general manager of The Village Teahouse in West Point, notes that it carries more than 60 teas with a wide array of tantalizing favors, as well as seasonal selections.
“We have two rooms for private events such as meetings and private parties,” she says. “The people, the food, the care, the love and the entire experience make it memorable. Our mission statement is: Enter as our guest and leave as our friend.”
The room is always decked out in Victorian style, with touches of the seasons or holidays. Its themed room makes complete changes four times a year, with recent ones being The Mad Hatters Tea Party, Steampunk, Gingerbread, Spring Revival and Jane Austen.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Connie Sewchek, owner of Serendipity Tea Room and Café in Belle Vernon, says the tea room is very quaint, with only 26 seats. Its walls are covered with vintage-style pictures discovered in antique shops, flea markets and second-hand shops.
“There are, of course, tea pots and tea cups placed on shelves and antique dressers throughout the small room,” she says. “We use linen tablecloths and napkins with napkin rings and vintage dishware. Our guests remark about the fun, beautiful décor, the warmth of our servers and the quality of the food.”
Serendipity serves Ashley’s Tea, with apricot as its most popular. Sewchek allows guests to try as many varieties of tea as they wish when they purchase a “spot of tea.”
“We can only make reservations for groups on a first-come basis because of our size. We do offer to come in on days that we are closed for guests that would like to have a private party,” Sewchek says. “In the fall, we are hoping to expand our tea room, and we will be able to offer private meeting rooms. We have also purchased and remodeled a building in North Belle Vernon that we use for larger parties, mostly wedding showers and baby showers.”