Friday, February 5, 1999
We Raise Our Tea Cups in Honor of Tea Rooms for Valentines Day
There are kiss-and-run valentines, leave-a-rose-on-a-windshield valentines, and signed by you-know-who valentines. There are flannel valentines, and there are those of silk and lace. There are fancy champagne valentines, sleek and red, and there are the cozy tea-time valentines for mothers, sisters, little brothers or run ragged spouses who would be tickled by the trickle of tea in a cup and steam on a window by a crackling fire. To them, we raise a cup and offer a few ideas, on where to get truly tasty teas and goodies to go with them.
Wenham Tea House
By the time it takes to finish one good conversation, one can be pulling up to the classic Wenham Tea house and Wenham Exchange. In the almost thirty years I've been going here with my mother, nothing has changed, from the little dishes of cubed lemon set out for tea to the perfectly buttered toast points under the creamed chicken. The gift shop is still a delightful ramble in the old clapboard house, filled with china, gifts, antiques, a delightful baby section and a book nook with a great collection of books that make you want to read standing in place until your name is called for lunch. For lunch, call (978)468-1398 to join an 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 1:30 p.m. seating. A great buffet is always available for $8.95, featuring things like baked scrod or stuffed chicken breasts with mashed potatoes. Lunch is always perfect. Tea is served every day from 3:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a la
carte prices beginning around $6.95. Two special teas coming up are a Valentines Tea on February 13, with a special menu for a sweetheart for $12.95, and on February 26 children can bring a toy to the Favorite Doll Tea. Both are at 3:30 p.m.
The Colonial Inn can be like some of those other historic landmarks that we drive by as we make a checkmark in our minds, "and I live near that." We may even pass them off as just for the tourists. But as most people know, even if we don't take advantage of it, the Colonial Inn, with its breezy iced teas on the porch in the summer and soul warming candlelit breakfasts and fireside teas in the winter, is a cache of coziness in Concord Center. The five-course high tea at $16.75 will spoil you with smoked salmon, berries and cream, paté with melba and raspberry coulis, all dainty delights which one feels should be unattainable, or out-of-season in February's old cold Concord. Light Tea at $8.50, and Colonial Tea at $11.50 though less indulgent, are nice escapes that are entirely effective, and leave you able to discuss something besides the next arriving course of elegant vittles.
In Boxboro at 61 Stow Road, an old rambling farmhouse, painted beat-the-blues yellow, holds, among roomfulls of charming antiques and interesting oddities, the Tea Pot. One gets the feeling of eating in the heart of the building, with the kitchen over one's shoulder and a warm little nest of tables clustered close by. As a father dressed for snow, with his two kids, sat down to eat, exclaiming several times "I'll vouch for it! I eat here all the time! I love it!" he patted his winter padded belly to prove it. With a menu ranging from Pot of Tea to the English Ploughman's Lunch with Cheddar, Brie and Chutney, the Tea Pot was a true find, one of those places where if you were visiting another country a local might lead you to. Kids might try the Teddy Bear Tea, with Teddy Bear Sandwiches and cookies and juice. However, a warning: If you miss the sharp turn that is Stow Road in Boxboro, and go too far along Route 111, you'll find yourself at another Stow Road. Take it to #61 and you'll find yourself at another yellow farmhouse, and though its owners are cheerful, they don't serve tea!
The Concord Museum used to serve daily teas, but have refined their process to offer special living history teas, where you soak up history as you wait for your tea leaves to steep. Take a look around the museum afterwards, and I promise you'll be surprised at all you didn't know about the history of Concord. Tea and confections are served as Sophia Hawthorne joins guests for a Valentine's Tea on February 14 that oozes romanticism. On March 2, Grace Chetwood of 17th-century Concord tells her guests about her life and times, and on March 7 children are welcome to a tea party that they'll remember for a long time; I still remember dipping candles and making Johnnycake at the museum way back when. All Living History Teas are $20, and $15 for members and seniors. Call (978)369-9763 for reservations.
The Antiques Shop on Bedford Road in Carlisle, for any who have been wondering, does not yet have its tea room up and running, but hopes to be serving hot pots next year. However, they have a wonderful window full of teapots for sale, and two charming cats to weave around your ankles as you poke around.
Boston Tea Party
The Boston Tea Party in Bedford looks like the quintessential Victorian Tea room. Down to the last dried rose hanging from lace curtain swags, this old renovated Victorian in Bedford center is a tea party fantasy, with gilded lovebirds and sparkling chandeliers, cotton lace doilies and rose damask chairs. The menu ranges from duchess to princess teas, with warming soups and delicate finger sandwiches. The cranberry tea bread is delicious, fresh and tangy sweet with a nice brown sugary crumble top. But the upstairs rooms are what really made me want to be five years old again. Three rooms, decorated with swags and fairies, murals of castles and Thumbelina on a flying blue-bird, await guests for children's tea parties. I went to a birthday party in the princess room where the girls were told princess stories by storytellers dressed up like Grimm's Fairy Tale princesses, and served cake and tea with trimmings from pictures to take-home crowns. The only ones who were possibly having more fun than the tea party princesses were the several dozen women downstairs screaming with laughter at a baby shower tea party. On a rainy winter's night, this place seemed to thaw the ground as far as the light from its cheerful windows fell.
Tea is good for the body; we always knew it was good for the soul. Surprise someone with a trip to a nearby tea room that will let you slip for an hour into quiet times of clinking spoons and simple pleasures. Bring a valentine and warm a heart, or pull up a chair and spend some time with a book and that old friend, yourself. One way or another, make time for a cup of tea, one of the best things you can do for your favorite valentine.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito