It's Tea Time in Tennessee
Is anything more civilized than afternoon tea? Here are four tea spots in Tennessee that you may want to look into at some point. Why am I writing about Tennessee? Well, I found there were 16 states in the U.S. that are considered “Southern” so I want to write about each one – in addition to New Orleans.
I came across an article in a January 2019 magazine that I picked up by accident. It is titled Tea Time and bills itself as “North America’s #1 Tea Magazine.” Every issue of this publication devotes itself to “tea.” I just have one question: how many magazines only focus on tea? Maybe if you’re the ONLY one – you can say “you’re #1.” Who knows?
MCMINNVILLE, TENNESSEE: Between Nashville & Chattanooga
Why not stop for tea in McMinnville (population: 13,662 in 2017) at the Falcon Rest Mansion & Garden for a trip back in time? This is the Victorian home (circa 1896) of George McGlothin and his wife, Charlien that includes a tearoom. One can enjoy a formal Victorian tea of homemade cinnamon cream scones, fresh fruit, an assortment of petite tea sandwiches, a variety of sweets and a pot of tea – all for $15.00. Reservations for tea are required at least 24 hours in advance. Falcon Rest is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
BELL BUCKLE, TENNESSEE: An hour outside of Nashville
A green-and-white building with a red roof houses the Southern Charm Gift Shop & Tea Room. It will allow you to sip a glass of sweetened iced tea and shop for treasures as well. This whimsically named hamlet, hidden in the lush, undulating countryside, is just an hour outside of Nashville. Bell Buckle’s population was 532 in 2017.
“The sheer excitement of the idea of a tearoom brings people to us,” says owner, Beth Sulcer. Afternoon tea, which costs $15 per person, includes a fresh scone, an assortment of savory canapés and six desserts – all of which are prepared daily. The tearoom also serves lunch and is open from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE: Twenty miles south of downtown Nashville
When owner Jinlan (Jenny) Zhong moved to the U.S. over 10 years ago and brought a suitcase full of tea and wares from China. “I found no tea shops,” she remembers. “All I could find was sweet iced tea. I said to myself, “This country needs a tea shop.” So she opened one.
In addition to the more than 200 teas sold in the store, Jenny offers free tea tastings. Some of the most popular teas are: Pu-erh, oolong and ginger-lemon tea. Customers can also schedule a private traditional Chinese tea ceremony for $9.00 per person that includes: unlimited tea tasting, Chinese fare and green tea cake. Music City Tea is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Saturday.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: In the evolving 12 South neighborhood
“From the very beginning,” says Sarah Scarborough, “the mission of Firepot Nomadic Teas was to connect tea lovers and tea growers to improve the lives of both. And we’ve been able to do that in many ways, with ethical and and organic sourcing and donating a portion of our profits to Women in Wildlife.”
The interior décor of her tea bar reflects the souks of Morocco. While chai is Firepot’s signature drink, loose-leaf teas and blends are available for purchase, along with sundry tea wares. The tea bar is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday. Firepot Nomadic Teas are sold in a number of stores throughout the U.S. as well as online.