MAY 02, 2021by MARYROSE DENTON
“Life is like a cup of tea. It is to be filled to the brim and shared with friends!”
This is the motto of owner Jenni Belisle at the Old Towne Grainery Tea Room in Mount Vernon, which resides inside a historic grainery building from the 1900s, which only adds to the charm.
Historically, the ritual of “afternoon tea”, the most quintessential of British customs, derives its humble beginnings during the Victorian era. It was Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, who popularized the custom. She found herself feeling peckish around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon. To tide herself over until dinner she began taking a pot of tea, along with bread, butter, and cakes in her private chambers during these mid-day hours.
(Image: Richard Schmitz)
The Duchess began eating alone, but it was not long before she invited friends to join her, creating a more social gathering. Within no time, the afternoon tea became the pastime among the elite and fashionable ladies, who dressed the part in elaborate hats, gowns, and gloves.
Today, one might conjure images of Downton Abbey when thinking about an afternoon tea party. Scenes of lords and ladies sitting around their parlor room sipping tea from antique china cups.
While the idea of a tea party is still fashionable and the beverage continues to be sipped from fancy flowered teacups, at the Old Towne Grainery Tea Room the atmosphere is far from stuffy. It’s cozy and comfortable, more akin to walking into an English country-style living room or as Belisle describes it, “ shabby-chic”.(Image: Richard Schmitz)
The atmosphere, the staff, and Belisle herself make you feel right at home. In fact, she believes “tea time” is a time in the day to “relax, slow down, and engage with family and friends.”
Dressing up can be fun to do for any special celebration and the Tea Room has a dress-up box filled with gloves and hats to fit the occasion. However, this dress code is not necessary to enjoy a luncheon at this tea house.
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