How I Came to Love Tea

Phyllis Inspiration 46 Comments

I have always admired—actually adored—all things British. When Lady Diana became a household name and her wardrobe shaped the apparel business worldwide, I just loved it. My friend Barbara Cockerham and I actually studied her wardrobe and would buy every book we could find that had Diana as the subject.

One of the things we really loved and decided to master was the ritual of having tea. Now mind you, we had no clue about tea blends, scones and curds, or any tea treat that one would typically make to accompany tea. So we went to the store, bought shortbreads and lemon curd, and proceeded on to purchase Prince of Wales Tea.

When we finally got out our teapots and china cups, we thought we could pass for the Royal Family. But the truth is that basic tea started us both on a lifetime of loving tea and the wonderful foods that accompany tea. My favorite blend of tea is Earl Grey. It is a wonderful black tea that is steeped and then sipped to my extreme satisfaction. Nothing is as wonderful as a freshly baked scone with lemon curd and Devonshire cream.

Many of you experienced your first tea at a tearoom. And you probably have a wonderful tearoom in your area. Please write and tell me about the tearoom in your area. We are always looking for great places to feature in our TeaTime magazine. Tell me also why you love the tearoom, its name, and city so that we can get in touch. I remember many fabulous tearooms that I have enjoyed. No two are alike! That’s what makes traveling and finding tearooms so interesting.

I sample many teas along with our staff at TeaTime. We get some delicious teas sent to our offices for consideration in the magazine, and I am always ready to try new teas. Today Lorna Reeves, the editor, brought me the new Holiday Tea from Harney & Sons. I am ready for Christmas!

Another wonderful thing occurred today: our newest hardback book, Tea & Sweets, arrived. It is not only gorgeous, but the recipes and tea ideas are fabulous for afternoon tea. If you have always wanted to learn about tea, our TeaTime magazine and tea books will not only educate you but inspire you with beautiful table settings. The new book has more than 100 recipes that will please any palate.

I hope you fall in love with tea as I have. Every time I enjoy a cup of tea it makes me slow down and savor the moment. If you do decide to purchase Tea & Sweets, for a limited time, use code SWEETS to enjoy free shipping. 


Get the new book today!

Comments 46

  1. Believe it or not Albuquerque, New Mexico has one of the best tearooms in the world — The Saint JamesTea Room. You will find it in many magazines and books. Once you enter the door you are transported to a calm, enriching experience. The many teas offered, the wonderfully delicious tidbits, knowledegeable staff, and enticing shopping — what more could you want.


  3. Growing up, I drank tea and coffee. Earl Grey was always my favorite. Years later, as a young woman, I visited my first tearoom. What a pleasure! What a joy! I enjoyed the ritual, the delicious tastes and wonderful conversations. Today, I still enjoy tea time. My aunt Marmie recently treated me to afternoon tea at The Fairmont Empress hotel in Victoria, BC. Crossroads tea house in Spring, Texas is a local favorite! Tea time is always a special treat.

  4. I grew into drinking tea…It was’nt until my mom and I went to England for 10 days that I not only fell for everything about teatime and all that it entails..just no cream in my tea..Earl Grey is my favorit and I grow the plant bee balm or Monarda that the Earl Grey leaf tea comes from.. There is a tea palor in the city where i live but i have yet to go and visit..I’m pretty much housebound these days…But I could go on and on about Britan and the English way..but I’ll break for now…

  5. I’m not sure how it happened but I became interested in tea when I was young, but it was my subscription to Victoria Magazine in the 1980’s that exposed me to the beauty of tea and scones, lemon curd and Devonshire cream. Not to mention the beautiful teapots, cups and thoughts of tea to be enjoyed in lovely locations.

    We are lucky to have a wonderful little tea room, The Avalon Tea Room, located in a former movie theatre in historic downtown White Bear Lake Minnesota.

  6. I am a tea drinker, I collect tea pots. I have a collection of favorite tea cups. My husband is a tea drinkers too.
    Herb tea is my favorite. I love to taste different teas. But I don’t have them with any sweets. I just enjoy a good cup of TEA!

  7. I too, unfortunately, do not have a tea room in my area, so my favorite spot to have tea with a friend is in my own dining room or or on a sunny day, in the garden. Last weekend, I hosted a wedding shower for my goddaughter and of course, we had “afternoon tea.” My gift for the bride was a hat box full of everything she will need to have her own afternoon tea; a tea pot, a book on afternoon tea, strainer, tea towels, and of course of a box our favorite Earl Grey.

    To me there is nothing more civilized then linen napkins, a variety of tea cups, cucumber sandwiches, scones and of course, something sweet!

    Love your journal Phyllis, thank you for sharing with us.

  8. For the past few years, one of our boutique hotels offers holiday teatime for the Christmas Seaon on Saturdays. There used to be an old tea shoppe in a house along the village road near Preble NY, but I believe it is closed now.

    There was, at one time, a small White Rose Tea Shop a few blocks from our place. Alas, it too have given way to an artists’space. The nice thing is that some of the teaware left behind was upcycled to art pieces

  9. Alas, no tea rooms where I live! So my favorite would be my home! Each year I host a Christmas tea for the women in my family. Last year we had 17 in attendance, ranging in age from 2 to 80! I use my Christmas China, make homemade scones & lemon curd. All the guests bring the savories and sweets. It’s a wonderful afternoon!

  10. Just received Tea & Sweets in the mail yesterday — it’s so nice and some of the recipes I can’t wait to try!

  11. I have been to several tea rooms. I especially enjoyed my tea time in Scotland when visiting. Went to a number of places but unfortunately I do not remember the names.

    In Canada where I live I have been to The King Edward hotel in Toronto with my daughter and it was lovely treat, situated in beautiful surroundings and a lovely tea spread. In Montreal where I live I have been to The Ritz Hotel on several occasions but not lately. I am not sure if it still has the tea garden. It was in a lovely area with a pond and a harpist playing beautiful music. The tea was done so tastefully – white line napkins, silverware. The food was delicious especially the scones.

    I must say there is nothing quite like having a cuppa in the afternoon with freshly bakes scones and sweets. It takes you to another place even if you have not travelled – a pure pleasure!

  12. Okay, get ready for some major “gushing” because I just love this place so much! It’s not really a tearoom, but a tea event. Every year in December I take my best friend to Roseland Plantation for her birthday to their Christmas Tea. Roseland is a beautifully restored home built in 1854 and owned by Carolyn and Tim West. From the authentic feather tree laden with Victorian ornaments in the parlor to the flower filled epergne on the dining room table, no detail is left out. The food is wonderful. When the tea is over, you are treated to a tour of the home and then, a visit to The Surprise Room. Shall I reveal what the surprise is? Well, okay, you can see it on their website anyway. It’s a replica of The Last Supper! And not just a little ol’ picture. It’s 15′ tall by 28′ wide!

    In the Spring, they do a tea during the Azalea Trails and you can make reservations for a group of 10 or more at other times.

    Roseland Plantation is located in Ben Wheeler, Texas which is about 13 miles from Tyler and 24 miles from Canton (First Monday Trades Days!). Their website is

    1. Doesn’t THAT sound wonderful. A good friend of mine and her sister (who lives in Dallas) never miss the First Monday Trades Days. I’ll have to tell her about Roseland Plantation.

  13. There aren’t any tea rooms near my home, but we still have a tea time most every afternoon. Our treats aren’t always traditional tea time delights but, to us, they are delicious wonderments of love.

  14. I have two favorite tea houses here in Southern California. The first, “Tea House on
    Los Rios” is in a old Victorian house in the historic district of San Juan Capistrano, also “Paris in a Cup” in Old Towne Orange, makes you feel as if you are in Paris. Both tea houses also have lovely gifts and a large assortment of teas.

  15. When I was newly widowed with 2 small boys and not much money we instituted Sunday afternoon tea parties. We had little cucumber sandwiches and tomato sandwiches – crusts cut off of course. I had clear glass plates with a spot for a cup. They had koolaid, sandwiches and cookies and we watched Shirley Temple movies with our “tea”
    My oldest is 50 but he still remembers our tea parties

  16. I too love tea & Earl Grey is a favorite. I have one that I like called Taylor’s of Harrogate. One of my treasures is a china teapot that I got on a trip we made to Victoria. I did not get to take tea at The Empress Hotel, but have always regretted missing the experience.

  17. The Windsor Arms in Toronto, Canada has an outstanding Afternoon Tea and the service and setting are both absolutely top notch.

  18. Whenever I travel I check to see if there is a tea room near my destination. I have had tea in London at Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, but the best is the Brown’s Hotel. Our hotel in Dubai served the prettiest cakes crafted as hats, purses and shoes. What’s not to love! Edinburgh, Hong Kong, cruise ships. A b&b in Vermont had the most extravagant tea – a meal actually. A tea room in Bracebridge, Ontario that serves the absolute best sticky toffee pudding. Most old style hotels will also serve tea. There are so many wonderful black teas to try. Don’t get hung up on the old standbys like earl grey or English breakfast. If you don’t like what you choose I have never known a tea shop to let you try something else. When you travel about think in advance. You may be very surprised at the tastes that await you!

  19. I have struggled to find a tea room here in Nashville, but my favorite tea room I have ever been to is Dunbar Tea Room in Sandwich, MA on Cape Cod. My husband and I spent a week there in October several years ago, as a last vacation for just the two of us when I was expecting our first son. It was a cold, blustery day and it really hit the spot. Charming and delicious food. It was more of a “high tea” with a light meal, but I remember enjoying a fantastic cup of rooibos tea. It was family friendly as well. I hope to one day return and bring my two boys. I have been using “tea time” as a bonding, calming ritual with my oldest 3 year old son in the afternoons. He has chamomile and I have whatever strikes my fancy. It has been an absolute joy. Tea parties are not just for little girls. Sometimes we serve pretend tea to dinosaurs, and there are dump trucks that drive the teddy bears to our party, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love tea time!

  20. I came to love tea after a friend of a friend who was visiting from England gifted us with a box of PG Tipps tea. It was 100 times better than what I had been buying in the store for my family to drink. From there I have branched out to all kinds of tea with the Holiday Tea from Harney & Sons that you mentioned being one of my favorites. I drink it all year long in fact. I don’t always have the time to enjoy scones with my tea so cookies have to do. As long as I at least get a cup or two mid-afternoon I’m happy.

  21. My favorite tearoom is Rosepointe Cottage in Chardon, Ohio, it is the quintessential tearoom. The moment you walk in it is as though you were in great-grandma’s parlour. I feel as if I had stepped back in time to a more
    gentler and peaceful time. The hospitality is warm and gracious and the staff is always courteous and friendly. The owner, Mary Anne, always has a friendly smile and makes you feel at home. Her attention to detail is reflected in every aspect of the tearoom which is her love and passion. The food is consistently delicious from the
    savories to the desserts. My favorite tea is Rose Petal, it has a wonderful aroma and the delicate flavor of roses.
    I savor every sip of this delicious tea as I share this blessed time with my dearest friends and family. I have so
    many special memories of times I have shared with those who are so very dear to me.

  22. My favorite tea room out here in Arizona is The English Rose in Carefree. I love the wonderful menu, with something for any appetite – anything from a delicious cool salad, cozy beans on toast, or a full high tea. Whether eating al fresco on the front patio or in the tea room itself, the decor is elegant and the service impeccable. I make a point to go every year with my mother when she comes to visit, and it is the high point of my Black Friday shopping to stop in with my mother-in-law for lunch each November!

  23. My Mother made tea for me as a child when I was ill. She would add honey and lemon and serve the tea in a pretty cup and saucer to cheer me. My sisters and I would plan tea parties as a means of eating cookies! During my first trip to Europe, when smoking was allowed in every space, by the time I arrived at my family’s place in Croatia, I had an deep,dry cough that hurt my chest. My great aunt immediately brewed this delicious herbal tea full of cammomile and other herbs and flowers. I did not speak Croatian and she did not speak English, but we communicated through the sharing of many cups of tea with simple butter cookies and bread with fig preserves that soothed my chest and delighted my palate. Everything was homemade and the memories of that long ago trip are precious. I drink tea every morning and throughout the day. During the cold winter, I will make tea for my high school students and soon they look forward to their daily ritual and we continue through spring.My classroom is peaceful and the students are all content.

  24. I’ve been drinking tea since I was a child. There are many fond memories of sitting at our kitchen table with my friend Louise enjoying a pot of tea and my Mom’s homemade Chelsea buns or Danish pastries (I was twelve or thirteen at the time). My afternoon tea adventures didn’t begin until much later in my life, when I also started experimenting with loose teas and trying green, oolong, white, pu-eh, etc. instead of exclusively black tea.

    Sadly, most of the tearooms in my area have closed, but I do try to take afternoon tea whenever I travel. Recently, I was able to have a special Centennial Afternoon Tea at the Old Mill Inn and Spa in Toronto, Canada. It was a delightful experience with delicious food in a pretty venue. I did record the Old Mill afternoon tea in my Tea and Talk blog and am enjoying a cup of their special Centennial Tea blend as I write this.

  25. I started on my tea journey when I was told I had to give up coffee. So, I decided if I am going to be a tea drinker, then I am going to do it up right. I started trying different blends and now really enjoy a good cuppa. I also love the ritual of having tea in the afternoon, be it fancy High Tea or just a cup with friends. My favorite tea room is Paris in a Cup in Orange, California. We attend their special Christmas Tea every year. The shop is a little jewel of a place. The tea is always based on a theme which is very cleverly presented in the food and presentation. At the end, everyone receives a little gift as a remembrance. It has become a favorite tradition in my family every holiday season. I have several of your tea publications and enjoy learning more about tea and its traditions. Thank you for that.

    1. I was also going to mention Paris In A Cup tearoom in the city of Orange CA. My daughter loves all things French and we enjoy the decor and the food. I didn’t know about the Christmas tea. May have to check into that for this coming December.

  26. I first got interested in different teas and the ritual of high tea by reading Victoria magazine when it first came out. Then, I attended the Victoriana show in Toronto,Canada sponsored in part by the magazine. It was held at The Old Mill Inn and restaurant, a perfect setting to showcase all things Victorian…it was as if the pages of the magazine came to life. It is also there that I experienced my very first high tea…so beautifully presented and absolutely delightful in every way. In addition to the indoor tea room they also have a lovely outdoor tea garden. I just came back from Cape May N.J.a few weeks ago and stayed at the MainStay Inn. My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon tea outside on their wrap around porch…drinking tea out of beautiful tea cups, nibbling on an assortment of treats,surrounded by beautiful flowers with only the gentlest of breezes blowing…pure bliss!
    One of my most memorable afternoon teas was in the early 1990’s at The Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto. My husband and I were the only ones taking tea when much to our surprise Paul Newman and his lovely wife sat down at the table right next to us.Unfortunately this hotel doesn’t exist anymore but it did serve exquisite high teas and you never knew who might end up sitting next you!

  27. The Burlington Seniors’ Centre in Burlington, Ontario Canada holds a Victorian Tea twice a year – once in the Spring and once at Christmas time. I attended the first event a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to see the room full of well dressed ladies and gentlemen. Some of the ladies arrived in hats and gloves. And the Seniors who volunteered to prepare and serve the tea did a wonderful job. They set tea pots and cups and saucers at each table. The food was served with both sweet and savoury sandwiches and pinwheels as well as tarts and bars on 3-tier serving trays after everyone was seated. It was so well handled and so successful that the next event also had a full house. That was the last Victorian Tea I was able to attend at the Burlington Seniors’ Centre because the events sold out so quickly. It was an enjoyable experience that I would recommend to anyone.

  28. I don’t know of a tea room that I have visited recently, but a few years ago a dear friend (who has sinced passed away) celebrated her 90th birthday. A crochet group that I belonged to got together at Heritage Mississauga in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada for a Victorian Tea to help her celebrate. It was a surprise party and from the look on her face when she arrived, we accomplished what we set out to do. The tea was served in the “good” china tea pots and cups and saucers. Tea sandwiches were served on a 3-tier tray with vegetable and fruit trays on the side. A cake was served separately because who can have a birthday without a cake? We were looking to do something that would bring back fond memories for our friend and she regaled us with many special events from her life. Tea for my self and family is great memories and special moments. I hope you also enjoy many special memories from “tea time”. All the best.

  29. My favorite Tea Room to go to is “The Secret Garden” in Sumner, WA. It is a beautiful Old Victorian Home that has been turned into a Tea Room downstairs with some tea wears and other goodies to buy. I think I started loving tea things when I first watched “Anne of Green Gables”, and “Road to Avonlea”. I bought my first china tea pot in Victoria when we first visited with my husband, one son (we now have 2 grown sons), my parents and niece and nephew. I now have friends who treat me to teas for my birthday, and I celebrate it with them on their birthdays.

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  30. I live in Columbiana , Ohio ,a small village in northeastern Ohio. We have a tearoom called Barley Twist. He has a garden for outside seating and inside seating with antiques and some gifts. It is lovely and very authentic. The owner is from England. A favorite in our town. He also has a website you can see. My two granddaughters age 29 and 26 just love to visit..
    Thanks Maude Ciardi

  31. My experience mirrors yours. My sister and I are 6 years apart in age. We were always at odds. When I began dating, she was the bratty little sister. When I got married, she had just begun dating. When I got pregnant, she got married. I homeschooled. She taught in a private school. Our lives finally came together when she retired. We discovered that we both loved the ritual of tea. We certainly didn’t “do it right,” but we had such a good time! We would call each other with every issue to talk about what “Tea Time” had to offer. Finally, we decided that was silly! We decided to select offerings from the magazine and have our own tea. We each invited two friends and alternated between our homes. What a wonderful time we had! We introduced our mother to the joys of tea. Tiny bites and a slower pace make for a truly lovely afternoon. I now have a pantry full of teas, but my favorite is Earl Grey!

  32. It wasn’t my first tea but it was our Grandkids first tea at the Washington National Cathedral tearoom. It’s at the top of the Cathedral and the views are beautiful. We took a trip there because I stitched a kneeler for the high altar at the Cathedral. It was a very blessed trip and occasion.

    1. That sounds so nice — and the fact that you stitched a kneeler is awesome. I’ve only ever seen kneelers at Trinity Church in Boston and they are beautiful. What an honor for you to have done that.

  33. I can remember my first tea. It wasn’t at a tea room, but in our kitchen when I was growing up. I was about 9 and my mom said she was making a special lunch. When it was ready, we had cucumber sandwiches and cookies, with cups of hot tea. A simple tea, but it looked so wonderful to me — whoever had heard of cucumber sandwiches???? Crusts removed and everything. Since then, we’ve moved on to tearooms, special hotels, etc., but my favorite place for tea is the Windsor Court Hotel (New Orleans). While I’ve even had tea at the Ritz in London (who could not have tea there if you had the chance), the Windsor holds it’s own. It is so special and elegant, with soft piano music playing — the savories and sweets are delicious and the teas outstanding. We even took my granddaughter, Isabel, to her first tea there when she was 8 months old!!!!!

    My favorite is Lady Grey Tea — very flowery, but I actually haven’t met a tea I didn’t like.

    Phyllis, you always stir up memories with your journal — keep up the wonderful work!

    PS: Maybe you should plan a tea tour of tearooms around the South (London??) — I would certainly sign up! Deb

    1. I have loved tea all my life, never coffee. My mother use to let me have tea with milk when I was very young. I had heard of high tea when I was in my twenties at a local Pittsburgh hotel now called the Westin William Penn. The first time I attended a formal tea there was with my mother and young daughter about 20 years ago. Since then I have become obsessed with anything tea. My most favorite tea room today is Alexandra’s tearoom in Springdale, PA. About a 20 minute turnpike drive from my home east of Pittsburgh. My friends and I have attended tea at about 10 different tea rooms around the Pittsburgh area. Alexandra’s is the one we always come back to. The reason is the wonderful people who own and operate the tearoom, primarily, Nancy-the owner and Brian her chef. Whenever my family travels outside of Pittsburgh, I always try to find a tearoom to attend wherever we go. My husband enjoys the teas almost as much as my daughter and I. My grandson, 2 years old has attended several teas with us at Alexandra’s and one in North Carolina where we visit family. His favorite part is the fresh fruit cup. I dream about someday having my own tea business, maybe after my daughter attends cuinary school which she plans on starting next January. In the meantime, I will keeping buying and reading all your wonderful tea publications.
      Thank you.

      1. I’m going to Pittsburgh this Labor Day weekend! Can you recommend any nice tea rooms in the city besides the William Penn? Thanks so much!

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