Tea at the Beam House, Beamsville, OntarioONTARIO, TEAHOUSES — By Milli Thornton on June 15, 2009 at 12:25
Story by Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Brian Williams.
THERE ARE OODLES of tea houses in Ontario; you could easily plan a whole vacation around them.
We were vacationing in the Twenty Valley during Memorial Day weekend for other reasons: the wine from local vineyards, gourmet food, the selection of elegant to rustic B&Bs and the Valley’s close proximity to Niagara Falls.
It was only when we were driving through Beamsville that I realized I was also there for the tea and scones.
Having lived in Australia for 25 years I know the joys of a good cup of tea (that’s “cuppa” in the native lingo). If all you’ve ever had is Lipton’s, or if you’re addicted to iced tea with tons of sugar, you would have to try a good quality cup of steaming hot tea (made with tea leaves, not a tea bag) and served in a delicate tea cup and saucer to really understand the comforts of this classic beverage.
Back to Tea at the Beam House.
We were driving towards Grimsby to visit the lakeshore when I spotted the sign. It was lunch time and I was hoping they would have something like cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off so my husband would feel nourished as well.
(Actually Brian would never order something “foo foo” like that, but they did have delicious sandwiches.)
Far more important for me was the tea ritual. We were asked to visit the tea selection to choose from the many gourmet flavors and also to select our own tea cup and saucer.
I chose a dainty, flowery one for myself and a more manly one with a Canadian insignia for my husband.
When tea was served we were each given our own teapot and personal strainer for the tea leaves.
The scones were the other thing that put me into foodie heaven.
American scones (rhymes with ‘phones’)—and I apologize to whomever I’m about to offend—are rough triangular lumps of dense stuff that, to me, taste like baking soda. An Australian scone (rhymes with ‘gone’) looks similar to an American biscuit, but smaller, and with a lighter texture.
And definitely not a vehicle for gravy! A self-respecting scone is served with jam and Devonshire cream (a thick, rich, clotted cream produced in Somerset, Cornwall and Devon, England)—or whipped cream, if no Devonshire cream is available—and a freshly brewed cup of tea.
In Australia, this is known as Devonshire tea. In England they call it cream tea.
The staff at Tea at the Beam House understand these things. They understand the finer points of tea as a way of life. Their motto: “Providing the perfect cup of Humanity that enriches all.”
As you would expect, the decor was rosy-feminine and chintzy and it’s definitely the kind of place that women love to flock to. Left to his own devices, I’m sure my husband would rather have eaten lunch at the pub with an ice-cold glass of Guinness, but he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit—even if he didn’t cock his pinky while drinking his tea.
Phone Number: 905 563-1852
Hours of operation: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 – 4:00
Location: 5053 King Street, Beamsville Ontario, L0R1B0
Beamsville is 40 minutes drive from Niagara Falls: