Friday, November 4, 2011

Afternoon Tea at Asa Ransom House

Did you know that tea has been found to encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol, and increase mental alertness? (Source: WebMD).

I drink tea every morning, and for the past year, have been making the rounds of tea houses in Western New York. My most recent visit: Asa Ransom House, a historic bed and breakfast in Clarence that was built, in part, in 1853 (the dining rooms were added in 1975).

Asa Ransom House

Asa Ransom House

Tea is held in the Ransom Room, to the right of the main entryway. The dining area is what you'd expect of a bed and breakfast – floral wallpaper, a hearth, and a sea of solid, wooden furniture. The room – the entire house, really – looks like it's been plucked from somewhere in New England.

Asa Ransom House

My friend and I were seated at a corner table next to a window overlooking the porch:

Asa Ransom House

To begin, we were presented with a choice of Harney & Sons teas, along with a pot of hot water.

Asa Ransom House

Asa Ransom House

Next we received a tiered tray of scones, sandwiches and cakes, causing some surprise that we had arrived at the main course so quickly.

Visits to other tea houses had been more leisurely, with one providing a salad and another warm scones before the sandwiches and cakes were served. At Asa Ransom, I didn't feel as if I were lacking in food, but I missed the staggered service, which made the experience seem like more of an indulgence.

Asa Ransom House

The sandwiches had names that I couldn't pronounce and one contained tuna and the other chicken (off limits to a vegetarian). The cucumber sandwiches are usually my favorite, but the bread tasted stale and stiff.

For me, tea was more of a dessert fest. Cheesecake and a chocolate cake were among the sweets served, along with cookies and a slice of strawberry.

We spent probably an hour and a half at the table, never feeling rushed or as if were occupying needed space. We shared the dining room with one group, but they were out of sight, giving the impression that we had the area to ourselves.

After tea, we found that the inn's other public spaces were equally inviting. I wished that I could sit in the lounge with a good book, especially since we had visited on a rainy Saturday. A chess board and half-finished puzzle implied that guests also considered the lounge a welcome place to relax.

Asa Ransom House

Off of the lounge, a small gift shop sold tea cups and tea pots, gift books and candles.

Asa Ransom House

Clarence-themed items, such as ornaments and mugs, added local interest. Unfortunately, they didn't suit anyone on my Christmas list, since none are from or have an affiliation with Clarence, so I left empty handed.

Asa Ransom House

Overall, I enjoyed tea at the Asa Ransom House. Although other tea houses can boast of better food, presentation, and more unique gift shops, this historic house offers an environment that is difficult to replicate.

Even the dog was charming:

Asa Ransom House

Tea is offered on Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and reservations are recommended. The cost is $16.95 per person.

Click here for more information about afternoon tea at Asa Ransom House.

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