The Tea Shoppe is a loose-leaf tea shop where you can create your own tea blends, and it also has a small dining area for lunch. Located in the Seneca Center, this place is quite unassuming from the outside. Once you walk inside, there are huge glass containers full of leaves and trickling to the back of the store through creaky wooden floors are mismatched tables covered in lace linens and all sorts of different plates, cups and saucers that make up a small dining space. And one wall is even devoted to crazy Kentucky Derby-style hats and boas for patrons to use to really get into the spirit -- which explains why many folks inside the place on this day were older women or young girls. Those are the two main demographics who enjoy tea parties. Them, and odd British dudes.
First things first: the tea. They have English, black, flavored black, green, white, herbal, red and specialty. Basically, a whole ton. I got a berry berry cup of tea. When they bring out the tea, they bring a set of hourglasses that are color-coded. They tell you how long to steep your tea. Kinda cool.
I liked it. It was fine. Is tea my first choice of something to drink? No. Maybe I'm not southern enough. But if you want water that tastes slightly like berries, this is probs for you.
Tony got a flavored black tea: ginger peach. His had a little less sweet flavor than mine, but he was happy with it.
The menu has a couple of pretty standard sandwiches, but they each have a little something that sets them apart from something you might make at home: turkey with cranberries, spinach and basil mayonnaise on ciabatta. Or maybe their special tarragon chicken salad. And tuna salad. And Brie with pear slices. Egg Salad. Classic Caprese. Oh, I know: roast beef, bleu cheese, mixed greens, red onion, tomato and horseradish mayo on ciabatta. Yep, that was my choice. Sandwiches come with a side of chips or house salad, or you can pay $2 for a cup of coup or their spinach salad. I ordered the french onion soup.
So I just kind of figured I wasn't a huge fan of french onion soup. Oh my god, this was so good. It was perfectly seasoned - rich with this cheesey, almost meaty taste. Hunks of bread to sop up the broth, some nice caramelized onions and cheese oozing up from the bottom. I finished off every last drop.
My sandwich was also quite good. Despite it being fairly small, it was packed with flavor. A good bit of the horseradish mayo gave it a kick, with some bleu cheese, sweet onions and a snappy tomato made for a light, yet really tasty sandwich. When I first saw it, I was not impressed by size or presentation, but simple flavors and fresh ingredients made for a good one.
For whatever reason, we decided we also needed the dessert sampler. That consisted of mainly whatever desserts they had on hand and felt like compiling for us. It came with a pot of tea, so we chose the Holiday Winter Spice - "Notes of cinnamon with a citrus finish." It definitely tasted like Christmas. Warm and cinnamon-y.
The desserts consisted of a minty brownie. A little too much mint for me, but meh.
The cookie had white chips and chocolate chips. Would've been better with just the white chips, in my humble opinion.
The peanut butter bar was a little dry.
The cookie with the jam filling was buttery and not bad overall.
Then, we also had a scone with a whipped cream and a lemon topping. I liked the lemon topping better - gave it some more tang. Overall, the desserts weren't overly impressive - especially for $10 total (luckily we split), but I enjoyed the soup and sandwich enough to make up for it. A little on the pricier side for the amount you get, but give it a try.