It’s your cup of tea
With fine China, colorful, plumed ladies’ hats, scones and a choice of more than 30 distinctive teas, a visit to the recently opened My Cup of Tea is reminiscent of Victorian times.
“We wanted it be a unique combination of tradition, charm and great fun,” says co-owner Jeannine Watson. Watson and her mother, Nita Jacobsen, long-time Grass Valley residents, opened the tea house and gift shop on Dec.14, 2006. “Planning, painting and decorating gave us quite a challenge,” Jacobsen adds. “In fact, from conception to welcoming our first guest, four generations of our family have been involved. We’ve always talked about running a family business, so this is a milestone.”
The Victorian cottage-style, yellow building My Cup of Tea occupies in Grass Valley has a colorful history that includes being a tool shop, an AA meeting place, a school and an Internet service provider’s office. Watson and Jacobsen’s plans, however, went way beyond a make-over for the building. The nostalgia they have created is based on a resourceful marketing strategy.
“Since it is a family business,” Watson says, “we want it to have genuine family appeal. That’s why the ground floor caters to grown-up ladies who want to relax in a warm, cozy atmosphere as they share a traditional English-style tea.” With lace curtains, vintage furniture and classical music playing softly in the background, it’s a gracious way to enjoy a lunch or an afternoon tea.
The lunch menu features wholesome, homemade soups, quiches and sandwiches. Teas are beautifully presented, complete with scones, mock Devonshire cream, lemon curd and jam – and of course, a large pot of hot, perfectly brewed tea. Exquisite small desserts are available as well. “To add to the nostalgia, the ladies are welcome to wear the Victorian hats we have on display,” Jacobsen points out. “We’re also delighted to cater for ‘special-occasion’ lunches and teas, but it’s best to phone in advance for larger numbers.”
Children’s tea parties upstairs
Go upstairs, and you may discover, amongst the dolls, flowers and frills, a children’s tea party is going on. “The girls have fun choosing from a special rack of princess-style dresses. There are flowered hats, tiaras, and feather boas to accessorize their outfits,” Watson says, “It’s a perfect way for a 6- to 12-year-old to celebrate a birthday.
“Peppermint and berry berry are particularly popular teas with the girls.” The selection of mini scones, cookies and finger sandwiches served on a tiered tray is a special treat, but what may come as a surprise is how much the girls enjoy the etiquette lesson they receive.
“They want to know how to hold their tea cup and saucer the correct way,” Watson says. “They also enjoy the craft session we have as well. Last week we made picture frames. We make it a creative experience as well as a celebration.”
How would the children rate the experience? “I like pretending to be a princess,” says 10-year-old Kylie Woods as she curtsies.
“Yes, dressing up is lots of fun, and I really like the flowers on my hat,” adds 3-year-old Jenna Watson with a wave of her magic wand. “Fudge cookies taste even better when you’re wearing a fairy gown and tiara,” says 7-year-old Taylor Woods as she twirls in her regal attire.
Is tea the new coffee?
“I think so,” Watson says. “More people realize it’s better for you – and the variety is tempting.” My Cup of Tea, recently featured on NCTV, offers traditional teas such as Earl Grey and chamomile as well as Chai and exotic Genmaicha.
Guests are welcome to sample the lunch menu or the exquisite afternoon tea tray.
The gift shop features interesting tea-related items, and many make the perfect ‘hank you gift.
When asked what their plans were, both Watson and Jacobsen agreed, “We want our customers to feel at home and come back again and again, so we can call them by name each time we welcome them.”
My Cup of Tea is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and on Sunday by reservation only. Located at 124 Olympia Park Road by Maltman and Brunswick Road in Grass Valley, you can learn more online at http://www.mycupofteaGV.com.
Tea room in
Nevada City has its own magnificent tea room as well: Top Floor Tea Room above Shaw’s Antiques at 210 Main St.
Its décor is traditional and tasteful, and guests have a wide choice of perfectly brewed, beautifully presented teas and lunches. Open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, guests can enjoy a totally different, but equally delightful experience.
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