March 4th, 2013 at 2:16 pm
For the past several years, my mother-in-law has been taking me to a tea room in Emmaus, just west of Allentown, to celebrate my birthday. We always have a lovely time sipping tea, feasting on sweet treats, and talking about life as part of the Kornegay clan (for the record, my mother-in-law is fabulous; I consider myself lucky to have such an incredible extended family).
I’ve often wondered if there was a local tea room that could offer up the same kind of experience—a relaxing place where ladies (and gentlemen) could go for a few hours of escape from the hectic world outside. I found it earlier this week, at Special Teas Tea Room in Chadds Ford. This quaint little spot in the Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, just off Route 202, is an oasis from the hub-bub of everyday life. Owned by sisters Carole Bradley and Judith Finnigan, Special Teas has been offering visitors homemade treats and a tremendous selection of teas for nearly 15 years.
The day I visited the tea room was cold, dreary, and drizzly—like many days lately, it seems. Although I love winter, I’m sure I’m not alone in longing for sunny skies. Spring is just around the corner (or so the groundhog tells us), but for now, I needed to feel warm and cozy again. I settled into my beautifully set table and ordered the Afternoon Tea for one, with Pai Mu Tan (white peony) tea. While I waited for my order I enjoyed the lovely instrumental music in the background and the sounds of quiet conversation around me.
What a treat it was when this gorgeous display arrived! The Afternoon Tea includes a selection of assorted tea sandwiches, miniature pastries, and a choice of a raisin or plain scone (I chose raisin), served with Devonshire cream, preserves, lemon curd, and a pot of tea. It was almost to pretty to eat. I later learned that Judith is responsible for baking all of the homemade pastries and other sweets on the menu, while Carole makes the salads, sandwiches, and everything else coming out of the kitchen. These sisters have definitely hit on a winning combination. Everything I tried was superb.
The menu also features a Children’s Tea for ages 10 and under that includes a pot of tea, six tea sandwiches, and two cookies—how much fun would it be to bring a little one for a fancy afternoon tea “party”?—as well as soups, quiche, salads (Caesar, chicken, tuna, egg), and sandwiches. Tea lovers will marvel at the variety of teas offered; I counted more than 30, including traditional black, flavored black, oolong, green, white, decaffeinated, herbal, Rooibus, and fruit-infused teas.
In addition to two rooms for enjoying tea, Special Teas also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase any of the teas on the menu, tea accessories, honey, curds, teapots, teacups, and other items. Hours for the tea room are noon to 3pm on Monday and 11am to 3pm Tuesday through Saturday; reservations are recommended, especially on Saturday. The tea room is also available for private parties and catering. Stay up to date on Special Teas’ newest teas and special events by following them on Facebook.
As these last few weeks of winter linger and the skies continue to be gray, treat yourself and a loved one to a spot of tea at Special Teas Tea Room. You’ll leave feeling relaxed, warmer, and oh-so-civilized. (British accent not required.)