Tempting Tea Houses

Looking for a tea house in your area? These New Jersey establishments are great for a warm cup of comfort, and maybe a scone or two.

Courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons

600 MAIN (Toms River): Empty nesters John and Susan Notte bought their Dutch Revival inn in January 2012. Susan was still furnishing and decorating it and setting up its British-style tea service when Sandy hit town. Unscathed, the Nottes hosted 600 Main’s first guests—two FEMA workers from Kentucky and one from Florida. Now the tea-time regulars include a group Susan calls “the limo ladies,” who arrive with a driver they call their Boy Toy. 600 Main Street, 732-818-7580.

AMELIA’S TEAS AND HOLLY (Mullica Hill): Sisters Bonnie Burton and Sue Kruger named their Victorian tea room after their grandmother, who filled her dining room hutch with her favorite tea cups. The sisters serve traditional afternoon tea at tables with comfy upholstered chairs. They also host parties and are known for their year-round Christmas shop (hence, the holly), specializing in figurines. 26 S Main Street, 856-223-0404.

THE BUTTERFLY (Cape May): On their annual 2,000-mile journey to Mexico, migrating Monarch butterflies famously fly over Cape May. They could probably use a pick-me-up at Peg Wolfe’s peach-and-blue tea room, where her large collection of decorative tea pots are displayed on shelves (pick the one you’d like your tea served in). More than 20 kinds of tea are served in the British manner, with traditional accompaniments as well as a soup and a quiche of the day. 109 Sunset Boulevard, 609-898-4550.

INSANITEA (Montclair): Part tea room, part weekend performance space, part gallery displaying jewelry, knitting, painting and photography by local artists, Insanitea fulfills owner Ingrid Sauer’s vision of a “welcoming and comfortable place for people from all walks of life.” With the daily soundtrack devoted to local bands, tarot readings offered and Pawberry Fields pet treats for sale, Insanitea is popular with local high school and college students who appreciate what Sauer calls “our funky and whimsical atmosphere,” not to mention the free Wi-Fi. 570 Bloomfield Avenue, 973-509-1202.

THE LIZZIE ROSE
(Tuckerton): Proprietor Elizabeth Reichard runs the Lizzie Rose in what was originally the Tuckerton seaport customs house. Filling the handsome spaces with antiques, her collection of hats and boas, a gift shop and tables in the high-ceilinged dining room, Corrigan offers traditional British afternoon tea with three-tiered silver platters and bottomless pots of tea for $21.50. 217 E Main Street., 609-296-1551.

THE NEW LEAF (Riverton): “I’ve gone to tea at the St. Regis [Hotel, in New York] and walked away hungry,” says Phyllis Rodgers huffily. “My philosophy is that no one will ever walk away hungry.” To that end, providing “nourishment for mind, body and soul,” Rodgers offers tea packages ranging from $15 to $27.50 per person, each with fresh fruit, tea sandwiches, dessert and, of course, a choice of loose teas. According to Rodgers, “British tea houses are very informal and cottage-like; Victorian tea houses are more ornate and decorated.” The New Leaf, situated in two adjacent, lovingly restored Victorian structures, now joined at the hip, is the latter. Patrons are welcome to try on vintage hats (men’s and women’s) from her large collection. 606 Main Street, 856-786-0323.

THE PICKET FENCE (Haddonfield): Born in Austria, Ruslana Snyder grew up in Linwood, runs a daycare center in Audubon and puts her prized collection of English china, including Staffordshire and Wedgwood, to daily use at the Picket Fence. She bought it in 2010 and had the tea room walls hand painted in garden scenes. “It was always my dream to own a tea house,” she says. Lunch is served daily. 103 Kings Highway East, 856-795-5357.

SALLY LUNN’S (Chester, Chatham): Solange Luyon was a French refugee who, in 1680, settled in Bath, England, where locals Anglicized her name to Sally Lunn and took fondly to the brioche-like buns she made. That is the legend, anyway. Her spirit and her namesake buns live on at Theresa and mother Jean Gaffney’s two very English tea houses. The Gaffneys, who immigrated to the United States from England in 1979, offer 75 different loose teas and sell about 2,000 scones a week, including newfangled flavors like chocolate chip and Reese’s. Their menu includes two-fisted fare such as sausage rolls, Cornish pasties and their own creation, Cockney Pie, a Sally Lunn topped with veggies, goat cheese, tomatoes and herbs, and baked. 15 Perry Street, Chester, 908-879-7731; 9 Roosevelt Avenue, Chatham, 973-635-2007.

TEABERRY’S (Flemington): Owner Susan Peterson—a certified tea and etiquette consultant trained by the Protocol School of Washington—offers classes in tea service, etiquette, conversational skills and related matters, but that probably isn’t why teamap.com ranks Teaberry’s tops in the state. In a restored and exquisitely decorated Victorian house, Peterson offers more than 120 varieties of tea, a full lunch and traditional British afternoon teas ranging from $17 to the Queen’s Royal, $44. 2 Main Street, 908-788-1010.

VICTORIAN TEA HOUSE CAFE
(Hasbrouck Heights): “Abbondanza!” isn’t a cry heard often in Victorian teahouses—unless you’re on the second floor of Ray Vorisek’s 1880 Victorian in Hasbrouck Heights. His flower shop is on the first floor; the tea room is up a winding wooden staircase. Vorisek, who is of half Czech, half Italian descent, likes to shout the Italian word for abundance as he brings food to his guests. 209 Boulevard, 201-488-6651.

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