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Chattanooga Tea Rooms: A Taste of History with English style Tea Service

English tea party setting.

Chattanooga Tea Rooms: A Taste of History with English style Tea Service

Ever wish you could step back in time and experience the sophisticated traditions of yore? Tea rooms across Chattanooga, Tennessee offer a trip down memory lane with an English-style tea service that promises to deliver an authentic and memorable experience.

The English tea tradition involves far more than simply quenching your thirst. It is a time-honored ritual that combines the pleasure of scones, finger sandwiches, and sweet pastries to fill the hunger gap between lunch and dinner. Not just a culinary journey, this tradition offers a nostalgic glimpse into an era of elegance and sophistication in English history and provides a delightful pause in the day.

Afternoon & High Tea: Time-Honored Traditions

While most might be familiar with the term ‘tea time’, not all know of the variety that the English tea tradition offers. The tradition is differentiated into two types, chiefly, afternoon tea and high tea. The distinction primarily depends on the hour at which the tea is served and the array of food offerings.

Afternoon tea, also known as ‘low tea’, originated as a social event served between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. This tradition involves hot teas coupled with finger food typically arranged on low coffee tables within domestic parlors. On the other hand, the high tea, derived its name from the high tables it was served on. This heartier variant often includes meats, fish, breads, and hot dishes like shepherd’s pie or steak and kidney pie, rounded off with quintessentially British desserts like sticky toffee pudding.

Tea Rooms in Chattanooga: A Blend of Flavor and Culture

Chattanooga tea rooms take pride in their elaborate tea menus that are just as noteworthy as the tea itself. The food items, often presented on decorative multi-tiered serving stands, are a key component of the tea experience.

Tea rooms like the one housed within the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) or Ooltewah’s Mountain Oaks Manor, offer a diverse menu that often sees variations to ensure return of their patrons. As a result, patrons can enjoy a delightful array of dishes like tomato bisque soup, veggie quiche, sandwiches with brie and turkey, shrimp cocktails, and home-made scones, among others.

Vital Mission

Genesis House of Tea, another favored tea establishment, partners with the Together Coalition, an assortment of faith-related organizations that extend support to women in need. Their full high-tea service, complete with Royal Albert china, not only provides an authentic tea experience but also supports a noble cause with every cup sold.

Historical Backdrop: Tea and Time Travel

Chattanooga tea houses personify diverse eras of the city’s history with settings as varied as trains, courtrooms, and orphanages.

Visiting the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum is tantamount to stepping back in time to an age when rail travel retained a modicum of luxury, which was incomplete without a full-featured tea service. The TVRM tea room, designed to mimic the ambiance of the 1940s, offers a unique tea experience complete with a train ride.

Ooltewah’s courthouse, rebuilt following a devastating tornado in 2020, now serves as Mountain Oaks Manor, offering genteel surroundings while reviving English customs.

Genesis House of Tea, housed within the vintage Dent House, creates an experience reminiscent of its past as an orphanage while refreshing the vintage heritage with a modern, intentional makeover.

Tea, Not Just for the Ladies

Tea experiences are no longer the prerogative of women alone. Chattanooga tea rooms frequently cater to groups of men who are increasingly replacing golfing tea times and coffeehouse breaks with tea house visits. Events like the Daddy and Daughters Day Tea remains a favorite, proving that tea has evolved from being a fancy pastime to an occasion that transcends gender and age.

With these diverse offerings, Chattanooga tea rooms continue to satisfy the craving for a novelty experience, nurturing a tradition that has become widely popular across the country.

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