A Spot of Tea


By Rachel Studebaker | Photography by Vityl Media

The centuries-old tradition of teatime is living on here in the Scenic City, thanks to a lineup of elegant eateries. Each experts in their own right when it comes to specialty teas, house-made menus, and darling décor, these local tearooms are creating space for customers to enjoy company over a cup of tea. Read on to learn about four charming businesses serving up tea and more.

deven wallace

Genesis House of Tea | Deven Wallace

Genesis House of Tea opened in 2022, a vision brought to life by Redemption to the Nations Church and its pastors, Kevin and Deven Wallace. The tearoom is named after the Wallaces’ adopted daughter, Genesis, and its mission is inspired by the story of her birth mother. In reference to its name, Deven Wallace explains that Genesis House of Tea “is a place of new beginnings for all women and children who find themselves in difficult circumstances.” The tearoom uses a portion of its funds to support and house women experiencing a crisis pregnancy and come alongside birth and adoptive mothers alike in their journey. “Every cup of tea at Genesis House of Tea restores beauty, identity, and dignity to women in our area,” Wallace adds.

The tearoom is open five days a week for lunch along with after-hour event reservations, offering a house-made menu of sweet and savory dishes. “It’s all made to order, and it’s a perfect blend of some well-known British traditions as well as some American favorites,” says Wallace. For the full tearoom experience, she recommends the afternoon tier, and notes that the homemade scones and lobster bisque – a family recipe – are house favorites.

genesis house of tea

From elegant gold décor to the Royal Albert China each dish is served on, Genesis House of Tea wants every guest to feel like royalty. The tea selections also reflect this desire with options like the Royal Wedding tea – the tearoom’s best-selling option – and a traditional Buckingham Palace blend. Wallace says that indulging in the tradition of afternoon tea and its little luxuries sets aside time “to put away the paper plates and sit down with China just to remind yourself that some moments are worth it!”

Since its opening two years ago, Wallace has watched the tearoom become home to meaningful memories. “We’ve seen incredible date nights. We’ve seen beautiful father-daughter and mother-daughter moments. We have listened to laughter, and we have watched tears fall over delicious tea. From the regular meeting of ladies, groups, and Bible studies to business meetings, it’s amazing to see what community can happen around a cup of tea!”

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Homefront Tea Room | Penelope Soule Gault

An extension of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM), the Homefront Tea Room opened in 2022 to offer teatime with a historic twist. “The tearoom is decorated to represent a 1940s-era tearoom and focuses on women on the Homefront during the war years,” explains Penelope Soule Gault, communications director for TVRM.

The Homefront Tea Room hosts visitors from TVRM’s Grand Junction Depot, where a quaint environment and vintage décor usher patrons into the past as they enjoy a classic high tea among history.

Seasonal menus offer up a host of house-made delicacies to enjoy. Gault lists a mouthwatering lineup of staple items always on offer, including soup with grilled cheese bites, chicken salad, maple brown sugar bacon, egg quiche on a crescent slice with hollandaise sauce, plus clotted cream, lemon curd, and assorted jams served alongside freshly baked scones. She notes, “The appetizer awaiting upon your arrival is one of our favorites: the warm, homemade pimento cheese with crackers is a must-try.” A rotating tea selection lets visitors select from eight teas to pair with their food, while giving returning visitors new flavors to try out each time.

homefront tea room

Gault shares that the Homefront Tea Room consistently sees visitors reserve the experience for their special occasions, including parties who travel from out of town just for teatime. “Most recently, three different parties visited from Nashville and Atlanta – all first time visits with us,” she adds.

While its decadent dining alone offers plenty to enjoy, the Homefront Tea Room has even more in store. Following teatime, guests get to embark on a 65-minute train ride on the Missionary Ridge Local, which includes a railway turntable demonstration and a tour of TVRM’s restoration shop in East Chattanooga. The scenic trip takes passengers over four bridges and through a historic tunnel for an unforgettable end to a one-of-a-kind tearoom experience.

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charlene lamar

The Tea Cottage | Charlene LaMar

Chattanooga has no shortage of spots for visitors to enjoy Southern hospitality, and The Tea Cottage easily makes the list. This local event space showcases the best of our region’s welcoming traditions from a homey cottage styled like a tearoom. Jack and Charlene LaMar opened this mom-and-pop business in 2006, wanting to “provide a hospitable, safe, and purposeful environment for events.”

The Tea Cottage welcomes groups of up to 60 people to enjoy exclusive use of its building for luncheons, dinners, and events. It has become a go-to gathering place for members of the community to meet, from garden and book clubs to neighborhood meetings, and of course, tea parties. In addition to event services, every third Friday of the month the LaMars select a menu and open The Tea Cottage to the public, where guests can make a reservation to enjoy a home-cooked meal – no event necessary.

Guests will be charmed by The Tea Cottage from the moment they arrive. Inside, the picture of a traditional tearoom awaits. Soft pinks, floral dishes, lace, and vintage accents charm at every turn and reveal a space clearly curated with care.

the tea cottage

Despite what its name and interior may suggest, there is much more on The Tea Cottage’s menu than tea. Here, freshly prepared Southern cooking takes center stage. Every single dish is cooked from scratch by Charlene herself – apart from the fan-favorite homemade ice cream, made specially by Jack. Event organizers can create a customized menu from a lineup of nearly every comfort food imaginable. The event menu contains more than 60 dishes to choose from including salads, casseroles, meats, cakes, pies, and more. Fan favorites include the chicken salad, cheese biscuits, and derby pie served a la mode.

The secret to The Tea Cottage’s success is simply the gracious hospitality of its owners. A hardworking team of two, their passion for their business is evident. From the care the LaMars take in crafting each dish to every decorative detail, guests of this local gem are in good hands.

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sonya guffey

Mountain Oaks Tea Room | Sonya Guffey

Mountain Oaks Manor has been providing event venue services for more than 30 years. Located in the Historic James County Courthouse, the century-old brick mansion sits on a sprawling estate in Ooltewah and brings dream weddings and events to life. In 2017, the venue decided to expand its offerings and opened the Mountain Oaks Tea Room for business. A relaxing spot to socialize over finger foods and a good cup of tea, the tearoom has quickly become a hallmark of the manor.

Sonya Guffey, the owner of Mountain Oaks Manor and Tea Room, describes its ambience as “modern Victorian,” adding that “each tearoom is decorated in Victorian-style antiques that add to the charm of the mansion.” Guests can choose from one of many themed tearooms: The Scarlett Room pays homage to “Gone with the Wind”; the Queen’s Room is perfect for fans of English high tea; The Garden View Room offers views of the manor’s gardens; and The French Quarter simulates an Old New Orleans setting.

mountain oaks tea room

No matter which room, guests can enjoy a traditional teatime experience. The menu includes more than 30 kinds of tea, including house-blended black, herbal, and decaf options. All food is made in-house, from the chicken salad and pimento cheese to a myriad of soups and desserts. Guffey recommends their afternoon tea, or the courtyard sampler to first-time visitors looking to give all the house favorites a try.

In addition to afternoon tea, Mountain Oaks Tea Room brings people together for events of all kinds. The space has played host to quinceañeras, sweet 16s, weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, bridal teas, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, and more. The manor also holds special events and holiday celebrations throughout the year, including enchanting “Princess Tea” parties and a Christmas Candlelight Tea. Whether serving up tea or catering a celebration, Mountain Oaks Tea Room continues to open its historic doors to a steady flow of delighted customers that prove this worthwhile addition to the manor is here to stay.

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