The experience of drinking tea can range from frilly and fanciful to solemn and ceremonial. In New Jersey, it turns out it can vary even more. As cold weather season approaches, we gathered five of the state’s best tea rooms, including places that offer festive Victorian teas and ceremonial teas, as well as those that offer modern, hybrid tea concepts that might signal a new trend in wellness sipping.
Mulberry House Restaurant (Westfield)
Operating out of a refurbished 1900s-era house (Victorian vibe, check), Mulberry House freshens the refinements of high tea with farm-to-table cuisine. Traditional housemade scones are served on the same stand as things like hoisin pork tea sandwiches and chai-infused crème brulee. The food is prepared with an emphasis on local farms like Tradition Farms, Country Stand Farms, and Phillips Farms. The tea menu is more fun than fundamental, with seasonal offerings (it’s currently “Chai Season”). Three dining areas with seating for 70+ give Mulberry House more space than a typical Victorian-style tea house.
Mulberry House Restaurant, 415 Westfield Avenue, Westfield; 908-233-3562
Team Time: Tea and lunch, Tuesday – Friday 11 AM – 4 PM; Brunch, Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM – 3 PM
Nutty Duchess Tea Room (Collingswood)
At the Nutty Duchess Tea Room in Collingswood, the tea menu reads a bit like a wine list, with fruity, fun-flavored, as well as traditional teas described with terms like robust, fresh, malty or flowery. The nice thing about Nutty Duchess is that informative list comes in a playful, delicately frilly environment: lace tablecloths, floral China, an uncluttered nod to high tea, which is their bread and butter (or scones and butter). Beyond the Queen’s or Royal Teas, they have Children’s Teas, special events, and dress-up with hats and pearls supplied for kids or adults.
The Nutty Duchess Tea Room, 807 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood; 609-315-3376
Tea Time: Tuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 4 PM, Sunday 11 AM – 2 PM (Sunday is by reservation only)
Princeton Tea House with Cass Tea (Princeton)
Not for anyone in search of clotted cream, Cass Tea offers what they call a “Princeton Tea House” experience, a frill-free, terroir-driven, mobile Chinese tea tasting available to the Princeton area. Founded in 2017 by friends Joann (from Hong Kong) and Marc (who apprenticed under a tea master in New York City), the Princeton Tea House experts come to you (and up to four friends) for an hour-long guided tasting of Chinese teas. Again, not for the doily crowd: the goal here is to educate you and your palate on traditional Chinese tea, hand-selected on their annual trips to China.
Princeton Tea House, Location varies, Princeton University area
Tea Time: Varies
Boukakuan Japanese Tea House (Columbus)
Another ultra-traditional reverent tea house—nary a scone in sight—this time with a brick-and-mortar space of its own, a converted 18th century Quaker meeting house that has a tatami mat tea room inside. The major concept at Boukakuan Japanese Tea House is Urasenke, or the Japanese tea ceremony, which founder and Penn State alum Drew Hanson is licensed to teach and demonstrate. The tea house itself is where you’ll want to go for a private demonstration (book a week in advance). The interior aesthetic is geared toward deepening the serious education of the ceremony.
Boukakuan Japanese Tea House and Garden, 1832 Jacksonville Jobstown Road, Columbus; 609-616-2556
Tea Time: Varies
Mambo Tea House (Rutherford)
There aren’t many tea houses where you can sip oolong at your table while someone knocks back a Cuba Libre at the table next to you, making Rutherford’s Mambo Tea House a decidedly non-traditional part of our list. Although the truth is, the tea menu at Mambo is actually closer to purist, with offerings like Ti Kuan Yin Chinese oolong and Silver Needle white tea (with the requisite Pina Colada herbal tea). It’s a well-curated tea menu in the vibrancy of a Cuban restaurant—a far cry from tea and crumpets.
Mambo Tea House, 98 Park Avenue, Rutherford; 201-933-1262
Tea Time: Same as opening hours