Friday, April 26 2024 9:50

Brandywine Table: Spring Into Tea Time

Written by Courtney H. Diener-Stokes

Time to connect over sweet & savory bites and tasty teas

Super soft bread enveloping flavorful fillings, warm scones paired with sweet spreads and colorful desserts that are ever so dainty. These are just a few favorite things about an afternoon tea that sets it apart from other culinary options. A sense of anticipation swells when the tiered trays and tea pots filled with perfectly steeped tea arrive at the table. But there’s much more to an afternoon tea experience than the food.

Part of the inspiration behind Mimi’s Tea Cottage, which opened in West Chester less than a year ago, was centered on just that. “It’s a lot about socializing. We want you to enjoy it and have fun,” said Karen Klein, owner of Mimi’s.

Getting together for tea gives the group a chance to exhale and take time connecting with who’s there, whether friends, children or grandchildren. For Klein, who is “Mimi” to her grandchildren, her love of tea was cultivated by her late mother, Patricia, who’d organize tea outings with her two daughters and two granddaughters.

After retiring from a major insurance company in 2019, Klein was then able to revisit her deep desire to do something centered on food, since she’d always loved cooking and had a passion for baking. A few years ago, while visiting a tea room with her sister, Victoria, the idea of bringing her own tea room to life struck her. Not long after, Mimi’s Tea Cottage opened its doors.

As West Chester’s only English tea room, Mimi’s has a cozy interior complete with floral trimmings, a collection of teapots and an English telephone booth painted pink. Klein’s love of baking is clear when you see and bite into her desserts, all made from scratch, like her chocolate raspberry truffle tea cookies, strawberry cheesecake cups and salted caramel toffee brownies.

Karen Klein, owner of Mimi’s Tea Cottage

The menu changes monthly, aiming to offer something new that reflects each season, and ranges from a pint-sized children’s tea, called Ducklings, to the most elaborate full tea offering, called The Beaumont. This full tea service starts with a choice of soup or quiche and moves on to a three-tiered tray complete with a scone and spreads, four tea sandwiches and four desserts, along with a bottomless pot of tea.

Customers range from groups of women donning tea hats to male and female West Chester University students stopping in for a study break. Tea is available throughout the day, from 10:30 a.m. to 4.p.m., Thursdays through Sundays. Look for special themed teas at Mimi’s, with a Mother’s Day tea menu planned for the entire month of May.

Read on for recipes to give you a taste of a tea experience in your own home!

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