COVINGTON, La. (WAFB) - With all the travel restrictions in place these days, you wouldn’t think now is the time to head off to England. But, did you know you can get an authentic taste of the old country without a passport? So, don your family livery, and acquire some manners. You are having tea with the Queen.
Nestled on the quiet streets of the antique district in Covington, La., The English Tea Room is hard to miss. The Union Jack flaps in a gentle breeze along with other colors from Britain’s past. Were it not for the moss-draped oaks surrounding the quaint home you might just think you have left the country. And when you step inside, well, that is where the experience begins.
Colleen Young sipped tea from fine china. “It’s a get-away from the real world.” She is a return sipper celebrating her niece’s birthday. “It kind of transports you somewhere else.
Characters from the television series Downton Abbey kept a careful eye to make sure everyone uses their best manners. The Downton Abbey room oozes British charm. Nutcrackers, tiny flags, and memorabilia cover every empty space giving the room a regal air.
“You feel prim and proper.” said Kathy Cancienne from under the brim of her lavender tea hat. Five generations of her family are dining with the Queen. Well, a cardboard cut-out of Her Royal Highness.
“I went online to look at the etiquette for going to tea, so I know how to fold my napkin in my lap.” Cancienne laughed.
The English Tea Room has been serving up an authentic taste of Britain for almost 20 years. Tim Lantrip is the lord of the manor. “I am,” he said as he lowered his cup of Earl Grey. “As long as my wife’s not here. If she comes in, she’ll tell you something different.”
He and his wife Jan have grown the tea room’s menu from ten flavors when they first opened to more than 230 custom blends today.
Tim said their first run-in with a food critic did not go as they had hoped. “He said, ‘Man, I never thought y’all would last 6 months. Who’s going to come drink tea in the deep south? Nobody’s going to do that.’ We weren’t smart enough to know it probably wouldn’t work.” Tim said.
But, people kept coming for the experience as much as the tea. “Each room makes you feel special” said Young, “Like you’re somewhere else.”
The fine china, linen napkins, and real silverware add to the regal experience. ”Just the touch of china to your lips is different instead of drinking out of a paper cup or a coffee mug.” said Jan Lantrip, “The fineness of it. It brings that experience, and it taste better.
”With rooms named after famous Brits like Winston Churchill, the Tudors, and the Queen herself, you will find something to like, even if your idea of tea is the southern, sweet variety. But, for the full experience, check out the high tea with Coronation Chicken Salad. It’s the original recipe from the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
And the scones are so good, they have won the approval of at least one of the Queen’s knights. “Anthony Hopkins, when they were filming a movie here years ago, loved our scones.” said Tim.
“When they finished filming, he bought 350 scones, and they packed them up and shipped them to California for a party over there.”
“The scones!’ said Cancienne, “The chocolate chip is a good one. There’s not a bad one in the bunch.”
“You have things like the Scotch egg, bagel and lox, and the marmite that you couldn’t get anywhere else.” said Charoltte Guinot as she noshed on her breakfast.
When you visit the English Tea Room, plan on taking you time and soaking up the atmosphere, and the tea of course. “Today, everything is quick, fast, disposable.” said Tim. “We’re the exact opposite of that.”
You do not have to be a man of letters to enjoy the English Tea Room. But if you are not careful, you may leave with a bit of an accent.
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