Monday, July 17, 2017

A Visit to Hearts Desire Tea Room in Columbiana

"Perhaps it is while drinking tea that I most of all enjoy the sense of leisure." ~ George Gissing

Recently Mary Ashley, Emma and I visited Hearts Desire Tea Room in Columbiana, Alabama -- a special girls-only outing with family before my sister-in-law Shana welcomes a new baby boy. We recently celebrated this blessing-to-be with a "sprinkle" (a party for a mother who already has at least one child), so afternoon tea offered an opportunity to unwind after the previous whirlwind weekend.

Google Driving Directions for Hearts Desire may take you to the tea room's former location in Wilsonville, so be sure the path leads to the Columbiana Inn, a circa-1889 historic home near downtown Columbiana. Under the care of innkeepers Andrew and Diane Moore, the charming Victorian has found new life as a bed-and-breakfast.

Full-service English afternoon tea, available by reservation, features a choice of freshly brewed loose teas and a prix-fixe three-course menu.

My view included my sweet Mary Ashley, who thoroughly enjoyed her pot of Chocolate Mint tea. Other favorite blends at our table included Strawberry Shortcake, Peaches and Cream, and Peach Apricot.

The first course included vegetable quiche and chicken salad -- both house specialties -- and fresh fruit.

Teatime is a relaxed affair here, so there is plenty of time to take in the pretty vignettes. I felt right at home amid all the antiques.

Next came a tiered server laden with dainty morsels -- a delicious bounty to share.

China teacups and plates add interest to the decor. With so many makers represented, patrons are likely to find a sentimental connection. My father's wife, Vicki, recognized an heirloom pattern among those displayed on the wall.

Working our way up from the lowest tier of teatime treats, we began with savories, shown clockwise from below left: house-made pimento cheese in phyllo cups, cucumber sandwiches, finger sandwiches with ribbons of blueberry and strawberry cream cheese, and ham and cheese pinwheels. 

Next, we enjoyed a trio of petite tea breads, including traditional and cranberry-citrus scones and a mini banana muffin. Lemon curd and clotted cream were offered alongside.

This gleaming silver tea set caught my eye immediately. Isn't it lovely?

Our teatime ended with dessert. Although different sweets find their way into the rotation, Diane said the Hearts Desire Brownie is a signature offering that guests can look forward to enjoying every time they visit. There could only be one thing sweeter than this moist brownie topped with chocolate whipped cream and slivered almonds.

And that would have to be the company! Here, Mary Ashley and Emma pose with cousins Kadence and Bailey. For those who enjoy dressing up during teatime, an ample selection of costume accessories await at Hearts Desire. Although I did not don a vintage hat, feather boa or gloves for the occasion, I still left wearing a smile -- and looking forward to my next opportunity to have a cup of tea. 

"Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty." ~ James Norwood Pratt

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