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Three Iowa Tea Houses

Going to a tea house doesn’t always involve tea. In fact, around here, most people seem to go and drink coffee. It’s more about the ambiance and food style.

Explanation of the Tea House Style

In going to tea houses, especially around Iowa, I’ve noticed that it’s a gentile atmosphere. It’s comfortable and relaxing. The food tends to fall more into the “comfort” category and that fabulous desserts on the menu are a mandate.

While all tea houses will supply you with at least one tea choice, tea is not necessarily always the focus. In fact, according to one tea house, most people around their area are actually coffee drinkers. As such, it’s not uncommon to find more than just the regular/decaf coffee choices, but occasionally other choices such as flavored coffee, lattes or other types of coffee drinks.

Tea Thyme in Fort Dodge

Tea Thyme is an unusually bright and open room. It feels cheerful and open. It’s a rather large space but doesn’t feel too big probably because they’re so friendly and attentive. The decorations come from the shop attached (Thyme to Shop) and, if you see anything you must have for your own dining pleasure, it’s available. Its nicely done. But it’s worth also walking through the shop, as there are items in there that aren’t merely decorative, such as clothing items, greeting cards, and a few other items.

Despite what I said about tea houses not necessarily having lots of tea choices, Tea Thyme is an exception. They have quite a variety of tea, from plain black tea, to flavored tea, to decaf to herbal, and probably a few other choices. They serve Republic of Tea and have several of the Downtown Abbey series to drink and to purchase.

In addition, they serve coffee and some specialty drinks. They day I ate there, they had a chai tea with whipped topping, a hot caramel apple cider, and a flavored coffee, along with the other teas and the regular/decaf coffee.

Their menu does change. Both my spouse and I got the Hash Brown Crust Quiche. It came with a side salad and soup. The quite had nice sturdy chunks of ham – no tiny dice, here! Their salads have their homemade dressings and their soups definitely didn’t taste commercial – they had a nice fresh flavor to them.

Meanwhile, let’s not forget dessert. And here’s a real problem because they have such a variety! I ordered their signature coconut creme pie. Its crust is toasted coconut but the coconut isn’t the sturdier coconut most of us buy at the grocery store, but a much finer grate. If you tend not to like the texture of coconut, this might still suit you because, with the finer grate, it was something like eating toasted fairy shreds, for lack of a better way of describing it. It was quite delicate. This dessert was delicious – nice and creamy and quite tall. It was the perfect finish to my meal. My spouse got the French Silk, also a great choice. It wasn’t one of the overly sweet ones, which we do sometimes run across, but smooth and chocolaty. Also, another great meal finisher.

But there were several other choices that were hard to pass up so carefully read through the lis. I’m still longing to try their lemon creme pie on a lemon cookie crust, for example, although that’s not the only other dessert I could make my next choice so don’t let me influence you but just go and see what the specials are.

Pleasant Thymes in Elk Horn

Pleasant Thymes is smaller and more intimate than any of the others as it’s in a an old house. I don’t mean a historic mansion but, actually, a house.

It’s decorated as you might expect a tea room to be, with things such as teapots, for example. Plus, there’s a wall entirely decorated with hats. The hats are there for people who attend an afternoon tea. They can pick a hat to wear along with the tea.

With that, I’ll tell you that Pleasant Thymes does an afternoon tea but I have not attended it, yet. Nor have I been to their brunch or breakfast. Instead, I’ve been to two other types of events that they hold.

As a birthday surprise, my husband took me there for a gourmet dinner. He was able to discuss my preferences with the owner. We ended up with a meal that was focused on what we particularly liked to eat. The Iowa chops came up just perfectly. There were so many other things to eat that I can’t remember everything, but we did have side dishes. But I also remember a nice biscuit (maybe it was a dinner scone but it was very good), plus relishes, candy and, that night, Watergate salad. They alternate some of those old-fashioned salads we used to like. It was a blast from the past and deliciousous. For dessert, there was a selection of pies to choose from.

Here’s where I should blog about pecan pie. The pecan pie was the owner’s grandmother’s recipe. She browns the butter, first. That is different from the pecan pie up where I live in the Carroll area and very different from Southern pecan pies. In any case, it was a terrific version.

Another event we attended was the monthly prime rib event. It comes smoked or roasted – both area available. Unless you come with a few people, you’ll eat family-style. There was a relish tray, salads, candy and more. For dessert, I got a gourmet chocolate cake with some kind of sauce that I now don’t remember but for the fact that the entire thing was great. But I no longer remember what the other several dessert choices were.

In any case, the place has monthly events but you can also call to reserve a place at a gourmet dinner. For breakfast and a few other things, they’re just open and you can go.

Also, the owners are musicians. For scheduled events, they always play a few familiar tunes.

Angie’s Tea Garden in Jefferson

I hesitate to mention Angie’s Tea Garden since one freeze caused a pipe to burst. Currently, it is closed for renovations. I’m unclear if it will reopen. However, in case it does, I thought it was worth mentioning the place.

Angie’s has a shop when you enter, full of lots of tea-related items. It’s fun to look around. As you walk through to the back of it, the tea room is behind it. The tea room is old-fashioned and cozy.

They offer one tea and I seem to remember one flavored coffee. Similar to Tea Thyme, their menu changes. They’ll have a few offerings of meal choices plus a few desserts from which to select.

I wish I had written this post sooner or taken notes when I went because I no longer remember the meal I had. All I remember was that the price and size was just right for my lunch and that it was tasty. For dessert, I do remember having a striped mint cheesecake. It had a pink mint stripe through it. It was terrific!

At the time, I thought I’d return then blog about the place. In fact, my spouse and I went, one day, only to find it had had a pipe break and wasn’t open. If you’re going through Jefferson, the downtown isn’t that large that you can’t just walk over and see if Angie’s has reopened for lunch. So, the next time you go to visit the Bell Tower and hear the carrillon, just stop by and see if Angie’s is open and, if it’s lunch time, that’s your lunch choice.

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