By Vanessa Infanzon
Celebrate spring and Mother’s Day with a visit to a Carolina teashop. Sip a wide variety of tea flavors in charming surroundings with the people you love. Shop for tea drinking accessories and find the perfect gift for the tea aficionado in your life.
Susan Gurnee, Lady of Ceremonies and owner of Growing Wheel Headquarters in Todd, North Carolina, teaches her guests about tea etiquette and the history of tea. Traditionally, the height of the table determines what kind of tea it’s called. High Tea is set on a tall table and is often served closer to 5 p.m. Guests for Low Tea may sit on a sofa with a coffee table covered with tea accoutrements. A three-tiered tray, she says, offers three courses in one place. Guests begin at the bottom plate and work to the top for the sweets.
Here are six shops in the Carolinas offering a unique tea experience:
1. The Calabash Garden Tea Room & Gift Shop
Ultimate Tea is Kathy Cody’s, owner of The Calabash Garden Tea Room & Gift Shop, version of a traditional English high tea. Choose from 80 varieties of loose leaf teas. Munch on house made sandwiches such as cucumber and dill, apricot pecan, pesto and roast beef and beef wellington. Nibble on homemade white chocolate lavender, lemon blueberry, cinnamon and butterscotch scones. Reserve space at the 11:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. seating, Wednesday through Saturday. Reserve space at the special Mother’s Day Tea on May 9. Calabash, N.C., 910-579-9500
2. Carriage House Tea
Lady Mary hosts guests in this 104-year-old mansion for art and tea. Sip black, green or herbal tea in the parlor filled with antique sofas and chairs. Teas are blended and packaged by Lady Mary and may be purchased in a tin or by the cup at the tea bar. Try matcha – green tea leaves that have been ground up into the finest powder – in three flavors chai, Japanese Izu (plain) and peppermint. Accessories such as teapots, infusers, measuring spoons and bamboo matcha tools are stocked in the tea shop. Browse local artists’ work at Brightside Gallery. It’s connected to the teashop and features fiber, jewelry, paintings and pottery. Asheboro, N.C. 336-736-8714
3. Cornwallis House Tea Co.
This teashop and restaurant features hand-crafted teas and a menu filled with paninis, sandwiches, soups and wraps. Guests may pair Chesnut Chai, Crescent or Patriot teas with a chicken salad sandwich or the “Better than Charleston She-Crab” soup. Winnsboro, S.C. 803-815-1143
4. The Pauline’s Tea-Bar and Apothecary
Step into this teashop’s serene atmosphere indoors and out. Its sights, smells, sounds and tastes are carefully curated by owner Sherry Arlena Waters. Choose from 15 teas, sourced from a national, eco-sourced fair-trade cooperative or Nebedaye Farms in Indian Trail, N.C. Enjoy First Friday Live Music & Open Mic Poetry from 6-8 p.m. on May 7 and June 4. Register for a special tea and charcuterie brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on May 8. Charlotte, N.C. 704-999-2537
5. A Southern Cup Fine Teas and Accessories
Teashop owner Kym Brown works with a tea blender to create her own line of teas, A Southern Cup. Popular flavors include black, herbal teas, oolong and rooibos. The shop has indoor and outdoor seating and serves English afternoon tea from noon till 2 p.m. Try the cream tea with lemon curd and clotted cream and buttermilk scones and jam on the side. Hendersonville, N.C. 844-596-7832
6. Yadkin Valley Tea Trade
Here you can sink into a comfy couch with a cup of tea and a scone, muffin, brownie or a mini-keto-friendly cheesecake. Purchase locally made products – baking mixes, cheese, honey – from Old Mill of Guilford, Goat Lady Dairy and Lil’ Sarah’s Bee Farm. Find tea accessories and gifts including infusers and North Carolina handmade ceramic mugs by Heartmoss Pottery. Pilot Mountain, N.C. 336-444-8330
Beyond a “Cuppa”
Ask your AAA Travel Agent for help planning a day-trip or weekend getaway to one of these “tea”-rific places:
- Join a tea party at Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway, S.C. Call to reserve a space for a three-course high tea. Choose from more than 100 flavors for hot or iced tea. Enjoy scones with Devonshire crème and lemon curd, soup or salad (depending on the time of year) and a three-tiered tray with sweet and savory treats with fresh fruit. Bring a fancy hat and take a photo on the stairs for a memento.
- Schedule a Cordial Tea in Todd at Growing Wheel International in Todd, N.C. The campus is open from 3-6 p.m. by appointment for small gatherings and high tea. Hike or play on more than 20-acres before teatime at 4 p.m. Guests choose a teapot, teacup and tea. A three-tiered tray filled with scones and jam and sweets is served before the party game: Afternoon Tea Do’s and Don’ts of traditional tea. Reserve a space by calling 828-262-0011.
- Shop for a handmade ceramic tea pot and teacups at Blue Hen Pottery, Thomas Pottery and Dean and Martin, Eck McCanless Pottery, From the Ground Up, and Red Hare Pottery in Seagrove, N.C. Look for the bi-annual Tea with Seagrove Potters event in the spring and summer.
- Tour Charleston Tea Garden and its factory on Wadmalaw Island, S.C. Learn the difference between black tea and green tea. Bring a picnic lunch and take a photo with tea bushes in the background. Taste hot and iced-tea in various flavors at the tea bar. Browse through the gift shop for specialty teas, tea towels, lotions and soaps.
Photos: Calabash Tea Room and Gift Shop, Yadkin Valley Tea Trade, Cornwallis House Tea Co., Eck McCanless Pottery, Laura’s Tea Room