If your little sweetie loves to chat, eat goodies, and has the patience to make it through a sit-down meal, he or she may be ready to enjoy an afternoon at one of NJ's many local tea rooms. From the fine china and finger sandwiches to the tempting sweets, your little one will be enchanted during this special one-on-one mommy time.
High tea typically includes several courses (such as soup, salad, scones, quiche, tea sandwiches, and dessert) served alongside your own pot of tea. Each course is usually pretty small, but the entire meal can be quite filling. It's generally a good idea to call ahead for reservations, as most tea houses are fairly small, and some have strict seating times and/or limited hours and days of operation. Another tip for newbies: don't pass up the clotted (or Devonshire) cream. This butter-like accompaniment to scones is heavenly when paired with homemade jam.
Here are a few tea houses that may be fun to try with your little one:
Mulberry House – Westfield
Mulberry House offers a farm-to-table dining experience, and the tea menu has a kid-friendly package that includes a scone, two finger sandwiches (including grilled cheese, PB&J, and Nutella), and a sweet. The tea menu is served Tuesdays through Fridays, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and during brunch hours on weekends. Looking for a perfect tea party destination? Kids' special event options include Mommy and Me Tea, Alice in Wonderland tea party, birthday tea party, after-school tea party, and more.
Cosy Cupboard – Convent Station
With specialty teas that change with the season, Cosy Cupboard is a lovely place to sit down and unwind. From homemade scones to freshly made quiche and crepes, there are plenty of goodies to keep you busy for a while. There’s also a small gift shop that tea aficionados will love.
One Steep at a Thyme – Jamesburg
This lovely two-room, 20-seat Victorian tearoom welcomes visitors for two afternoon tea seatings on Saturdays and Sundays only. The owners treat patrons to an amazing spread from start to finish, even including a palate-cleansing sorbet at the end of high tea. Tea tastings, Tarot readings, and sip-and-paint nights are offered regularly.
Amelia's Teas and Holly – Mullica Hill
If you like variety, try this tranquil Victorian tearoom with 40+ tea options, freshly baked desserts, and scones and jam. For kids ages 10 and under, the Little Miss Tea menu offers kids teas sandwiches, sweets, and a pot of lemonade, hot chocolate, or tea. How sweet is that?
High SocieTea – Wayne
This tea house features more than 50 loose-leaf options, as well as tea education classes, cultural events, and private parties. Your little princess will savor the traditional tea fare, including the delicious scones, quiche, and sweet breads. There's a special package for young diners ages 10 and younger. “Girls come in all dressed up, and [they] love the tea and treats. It’s all about the experience for them,” explains owner Barbara Healey. “It’s most memorable with their mothers and their grandmothers.” This Wayne location is listed with the Historical Society as the first official post office dating back to 1895. Reservations are not required but are strongly encouraged.
Teaberry's Tea Room. Photo by thejenny0193 via Instagram.
Teaberry’s Tea Room – Flemington
Nestled inside a restored Victorian house, Teaberry’s Tea Room hosts lunch and afternoon tea Tuesdays through Sundays, including a Princess and Prince option for the ladies and gentlemen under 12. You can also throw a sophisticated high tea birthday party for young tea connoisseurs with themes such as American Girl, Pinkalicious, and Fancy Nancy. Many of Teaberry's visitors wear their fancy dresses. Management also accommodates the littlest guests – by providing high chairs for dolls.
The New Leaf Tea Room & Gift Shoppe – Riverton
Put on your finest vintage hat (and if you don’t have one, feel free to borrow from the shop’s collection), and savor high tea at The New Leaf Tea Room & Gift Shoppe. Afternoon tea is served Wednesday through Saturday with packages that include finger sandwiches, scones, chocolate-covered strawberries, salads, and, of course, Royal Tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate. The 6-and-under crowd will cherish the Celebri-Tea package, with heart-shaped tea sandwiches, rosebud cupcakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and tea, lemonade, or cocoa. Host your child’s next birthday tea party in The Secret Tea Party Tea Room, where guests will dress-up and games, dine on delicious eats, and learn tea party etiquette.
The Lillagaard Tea Room – Ocean Grove
When you’re down the shore, enjoy “tea by the sea” at the Lillagaard Bed & Breakfast. The elegant tea menu features tea sandwiches, scones, soups, salads, fruit, quiche, and much more, including a vast selection of teas. Young tea patrons will love the Teddy Bear Tea package, which includes teddy bear tea sandwiches, fruit, cookies, candy, juice, and a favor, served on Teddy Bear China.
A Sweet Memory Cake Shoppe – Forked River
This scrumptious bakery has a room for high tea. Get decked out in fancy boas, hats, and beads from the shop’s stash, and choose from an extensive menu of tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts. The packages include high tea, afternoon tea, and tea time, with discount prices for children. Throw an elegant tea party birthday celebration in a private room with costumes, glitter tattoos, food, and activities.
Sally Lunn's Tea Room & Restaurant. Photo by ccynthialynn via Instagram.
Sally Lunn's Tea Room & Restaurant – Chester
With one of the area's most sizable tea selections from around the world, everyone's bound to find something they love here. As a complement to all these wonderful teas, Sally Lunn's tasty menu features fresh soup, sandwiches, "hot from the oven" delicacies, and desserts. Complete your visit to the 30-year-old shop with a stopover at the Victorian Parlor, which boasts an eclectic array of tea-related knick-knacks.
Harmony Tea Room – Westwood
"Relax, reconnect, and rejuvenate" is the well-suited motto of Harmony Tea Room, which serves 23 varieties of loose tea. The perfect option for young ladies sand gentlemen is Juvinili-tea service, with yummy scones, sandwiches, sweets, and drinks.
The Picket Fence & Garden Cafe – Haddonfield
You'll feel like you're dining in a picturesque garden at this tea house, which offers a variety of tea packages. The children's tea service (ages 12 and under) includes three tea sandwiches, a cupcake, a decorated cookie, and your choice of a pot of tea, hot chocolate, or pink lemonade. Reservations are highly recommended.
The Merry Go Round & Calico Rose Cafe – Hamburg
This Victorian home and carriage house is a combo gift shop and cafe with a tea menu that's served daily from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Mondays). The tea sampler includes a four-tier set-up with salad, tea sandwiches, scones/tea breads, cookies, and chocolate kisses. Children's tea parties are available with a four-tier assortment of veggie sticks, sandwiches, cookies, and cupcakes, plus tea pots filled with lemonade or peach tea.
Parteaz – East Hanover
While not a teahouse per se, it's worth mentioning Parteaz, which offers creative tea parties for children. The third Friday of every month is a Mommy & Me High Tea with a Princess event at which you and your little prince or princess can enjoy tea sandwiches, scones, desserts, and a special keepsake. There are also lots of private tea party options with themes like dolls, Elena of Avalor, Frozen, glam, Shopkins, princess, and more.
Top photo: High tea at the Mulberry House Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.
Originally published 2012; updated December 2016