Article by Rena Glin
Imagine discovering a precious little room where sunshine streams through majestically arched windows draped in yards and yards of white lace. Where warm wood walls, the color of sweet dark chocolate, envelop you like a hug. Where the delightful sounds of harps and birds chirping and the delicious smells of fresh baked pastries and the spicy fruity aroma of fine imported tea fill the air. Where cherubs dance on a gorgeous gilded mirror, peek out of shelves and rest on an intricately carved fireplace mantel. In this magical place, plush royal blue booths and beautifully laid tables invite you to come and sit and take your time. Resting your head against a lace doily, nibbling on a delicious crumbly scone with Devonshire cream or a delicate cucumber sandwich, sipping rose tea infused with real rose petals, you are gently carried away to a bygone time. The romance and beauty of the Victorian Age surround you. Welcome, to His Majesty's Tearoom.
Bringing Back a Tradition Located in the quaint little town of Madison, Ohio, at the corner of Main across from the town square, His Majesty's resides in an 1875 Victorian red brick building that was once the town hank. Today, the old-fashioned vault serves as a coat closet for the tearoom and its currency is time, genteel elegance and the finest service. Tea is served in real china teacups and stirred with silver teaspoons. Hand painted teapots are carefully covered with homemade cozies. Each table setting is a unique work of art with fancy lace cloths and pretty floral arrangements. Dressed in traditional Victorian servants' attire, long black skirts and modest black blouses with a touch of lace, the waitresses act as ladies in waiting. Simply looking up from your conversation can bring your waitress, who bending from the waist smiles and asks softly, "Can I get you anything?" After fast food restaurants and franchises, this type of service takes a moment to get used to. But Michael Loparo, co-owner of His Majesty's, who with the help of her husband and partner Vincent, opened the tearoom three years ago, says the service and the unique ambiance of His Majesty's is what makes her tearoom such a special and treasured experience. "We all need to be treated well. We long for nostalgia, to be served and waited on. To be pampered and treated with dignity and respect. We hang your coat here, pour your tea and respond when you need us. You can actually watch people unwind as they settle in. They love it," she says. Supreme customer service, a gorgeous environment, delicious homemade foods and the finest teas professionally brewed by a brew mistress (hired specifically to steep the tea for just the right amount of time) have created a booming business for His Majesty's. Much to Michael's delight, she has found people love the art of tea. "Tea is an opportunity to practice good manners and civility, things often lost in our society. People relate to fine things-real china, real silver. They remember the past. It is a very refined and polite form of socializing that people truly long for," she says. The tearoom hosts a variety of very popular specialty teas in addition to regular business. There are doll teas and teddy bear teas, Dickens high teas in the spring and winter, proper teas and special afternoon teas. The Victorian Ladies' Tea society holds regular teas at His Majesty's, and a host of other groups, including a group of Civil War reenactment players and the Balmoral Highland Dancers, have all visited the tearoom. If you're planning on visiting the tearoom, Michael suggests making reservations (especially on Saturday) and allowing a good hour or longer for the experience. "This is not fast food. Tea is a slow process; you have to wait for the tea to brew properly," she explains. Everything on the menu is made from scratch. from the scones and tea breads to the fresh lemon curd and crumpets. In addition to the traditional tea items such as dainty tea sandwiches and tartlets, the menu hosts an excel- lent selection of hearty soups, sandwiches and salads. In spring and summer you can enjoy your tea or lunch on the lovely brick patio overlooking the town square. Afterwards you can take a leisurely stroll through the newest addition to the tearoom, The Queens Way Market, a delightful Victorian garden and shop. There are also several nice antiques shops across the street from the tearoom including the Antique Emporium, also operated by Michael and her husband. Both shops have an excellent selection of reasonably priced old and new Victorian-style items, including some incredible handmade hats, garden implements, Victorian papers, china, tea services and fine antiques. His Majesty's is a place where the simple things in life are encouraged and appreciated, from good conversation with friends and family to the simple enjoyment of beautiful things like a pretty garden or lovely painted china cup. His Majesty's Tearoom is truly a world away from today's hectic society. It's a place where you can step back in time and experience true Victorian romance-a time when art, love and beauty were embraced and celebrated. "
A Brief Tea History.....According to Chinese mythology, in 2737 B.C. the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, scholar and herbalist, accidentally brewed the first cup of tea when some leaves from a wild tea tree fell into water his servant was boiling. Drinking tea quickly spread over Asia, but it was Japan that elevated tea drinking to an art form resulting in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which required two years of training. The art of pouring tea was to be "most perfect, most polite, most graceful, and served in the most charming manner." The origins of tea in Europe are a little foggy, but it's believed that sailors bringing back packets of tea from the Far East as presents to their sweethearts and family led to its intro- duction into London's coffee houses. By 1657, a merchant in London by the name of Thomas Garway was offering tea in liquid or dry form for sale. A 1660 broadsheet issued by Mr. Garway extolled tea's virtues as "wholesome, preserving perfect health until extreme old age, and good for clearing the sight." The broadsheet further claimed tea "could make the body active and lusty." By 1676, demand for tea had grown so much, it was heavily traded and taxed and coffee housekeepers who wanted to serve tea had to have a license. As its popularity spread, tea became an essential part of entertainment and socializing. Tea shops and tea gardens opened all over the country and in the early 1800s, Anna, 7th Duchess of Bedford, originated the concept of afternoon tea, an elegant form of a high-powered snack that was meant to ward off hunger pangs between lunch and dinner. The tradition, which has evolved into several forms over the past 200 years, including high tea, afternoon tea and cream tea, is still an integral part of British life. Today, tea is still growing in popularity with tearooms popping up all over Europe and America. Tea is also being looked at for its healing properties. Studies conducted by the British Tea Council have shown that consuming tea fends off cancers, tooth decay and erratic blood sugar levels.