Secret Garden Tea Cafe
Mothers and Daughters. There is no bond as special, and revered, especially near Mother’s Day.
Tea is a big thing in my family. My Grandmother was of English descent, and we were all brought up with a fine appreciation for having tea, and really enjoying the ceremony. We have visited every tea emporium in NYC. We have enjoyed tea at every grand hotel. Some of us have continued this experience in other countries. Go with me on this one, we have a good basis for comparison.
I have a story to tell you about an incredible Mother and Daughter business, that brought joy to me and my Mom. You will see how enchanting the place is to visit, from the photos, but the story of how the shop came to be makes the experience twice as special.
Put the kettle on and let me tell you all about it.
Inhale, exhale slowly and imagine yourself in a lovely garden with flowers in full bloom.
Don’t get up, tea is on the way.
Carol Poma worked at a local parish and was known for her delicious food and lovely baked goods. When the diocese held a large meeting, at her parish, Carol’s was asked to organize the lunch for the big group. Her tasty tea with pretty confections, was a huge hit. So much so that the next visit scheduled at her parish, included a hopeful request that Carol would prepare the feast again. She did and started thinking.
Carol’s daughter, Katie, was approaching graduation from St. Joseph’s College. When discussing how she’d use her hard-earned business degree, Katie knew she didn’t want to work for someone else. Mother, Daughter and doting Father, Frank, discussed ideas and they leaned into Carol’s obvious talents. With Katie’s business acumen, they were on their way.
Carol and Katie planned their business and searched for years to find the perfect location. They knew they wanted Port Jefferson, but there was little available real estate.
Port Jefferson has a quaint business district. It looks like a charming village, with its small shops on tree lined streets. The ferry that crosses Long Island Sound is nearby. It’s an all ages, lively kind of town, with restaurants, bars, boutiques and the charm of a Mom & Pop community. You can understand why Carol and Katie waited so long for this perfect location, and had their hearts set on Port Jeff.
Their dreams came true when they found the perfect real estate, and the Secret Garden Tea Café opened for business. The location was the perfect complement to one of the most charming tea cafes I have ever been to…anywhere. Secret Garden just celebrated their 8-year anniversary!
The experience of a magical tea happens the minute you hand opens the shop door. First you are taken by the light, airy feel of the shop. There are lovely flowers everywhere a beautiful bone china tea pots on various shelves, hutches and credenzas. The surprise of a retail shop in the front of the café, nearly got us lost in pretty cups and saucers and loose tea selections.
Once shown to our table, you truly get the sense of a garden. The walls are a Spring green, each table is set beautifully with pretty china dishes and cups from all around the world. My place setting was set with Wedgewood China, one of my Grandmother’s favorites. I knew we were in a special place.
The staff was very attentive and invited us to visit a small dressing room, set with pretty table, chair and large mirrors. There were also lovely framed mirrors on the walls. There was a sewing stand set with a vintage gown, but the most important detail were the hats. Hats of all sizes. Hats with brims, plumes, lace and flowers. Hats for all ages and all tastes. We were invited to try on anything we liked and wear it while enjoying our tea.
I was moved to tears. Not only was this the very thing my Grandmother would have loved to enjoy with us, we felt as deeply connected to her as when she was still with us. Playing dress up is enormous fun, and these hats were special.
Once back at the table, I started to appreciate the rest of the tea room. There were shelves everywhere dripping with lovey flowers, and china pots. There was constantly something to discover, wherever you rested your gaze.
Our place settings were perfection! An artfully arranged linen napkin, was topped with a perfect yellow rose. The flatware was vintage, and my cup had pretty pink roses blooming. Each of us had an entirely different place setting so it was fun to compare our cups and china with each other. Set with each napkin was an uplifting quote to cheer you, carefully printed on a floral bordered card. You felt a personal welcome the moment you were seated.
There were two types of tea to choose from, the Classic, which had a mouthwatering variety of tea sandwiches, freshly made scones and delectable sweet treats plus your choice of a personal freshly brewed pot of tea. You can also upgrade your tea to include a glass of non-alcoholic bubbly. Either way it is a feast for the eyes.
Can we talk tea? My quick count showed at least 40 different types of tea! There are all the ones that you are familiar with, and some startlingly yummy flavors. Almond Sugar Cookie must be tasted to be believed. A light, almond scented, delicious brew was brought and before I knew it my pot was empty!
All teapots are brought to the table brewed and strained for you. Generally, the tea is still in the pot throughout your event, which can lead to bitterness in the pot when there is prolonged steeping. Smartly, Secret Garden brings a finished pot so when it is set upon its own individual candle powered warmer, you can be sure your tea will be as fresh and delicate as when it was brought to table.
The place had many tables filled, so reservations are recommended. I was lucky to get my table, as the next hour would bring a full house with Communion parties. Across from my table were four lovely ladies, all in their finery, enjoying the kind of peace only a good cup of tea can bring you.
Not everyone wore hats, but each table was full of smiles. A lady entered with two young girls. I was told they had been waiting for a month for this special day. They were all dressed up with gloves, hats and magnificent glittering skirts. They had been practicing their “pinkies out” all month. They were ready! The Children’s Tea was so pretty and truly to the taste of children with sandwiches that delighted the girls, and as much fresh fruit as sweet treats. The girls were delighted, and it reminded me of taking my girl to tea, when she was little. Those are beautiful, cherished memories.
You can take a bit of the day back home with you, by visiting the shop at the front of the salon. There is tea, tea cups, tea pots and other pretty things to remind you of the experience. You can also arrange for catering to your event, and for those that are local, they do a seasonal picnic you can take with you to the park, or water’s edge. The scones are light, crisp and I haven’t had a flavor I didn’t like. My Mom bakes scones and would serve theirs proudly. Take a peek at the Secret Garden Tea Cafe website for ordering options.
Happy Mother’s Day to all my readers. Let’s celebrate ourselves, our Moms, our Aunts, Grandmothers, Sisters, Daughters and dear Friends, often. Here’s a tip, from me to you…treat yourselves to the lovely Secret Garden Tea Café experience. In the hectic world we live in, this is a delight for your senses, where time can stand still, beautifully.