Tea at the Beam House, Beamsville, Ontario

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.

Taken with the cell phone camera, but I think my bliss comes through

Taken with the cell phone camera, but I think my bliss comes through

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:

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  1. You paint quite a picture, Milli! I’m hungry for scones (correctly pronounced, of course) and a cuppa Devonshire tea. And I’m still giggling over the mental picture of my son with a cuppa tea in a chintzy, rose infested setting. And cucumber sandwiches? “Now there’s a ~term~ I haven’t heard in a long time,” properly spoken a la Alec Guiness.

  2. Ah Milli, that sounds delightful, what a wonderful story, I wouldn’t be home sick for a good cuppa in Ontario. Unlike the US where I had to suffer the indignities of tea bag Lipton tea served with luke-warm water, ugh!

    Come and revisit the Blue Mountains and we shall have home made scones and jam with local organic cream with a cuppa made in a tea pot with china cups and a tea strainer in our back garden and ‘talk the hind leg off a dog’ all avo :).

    • I haven’t heard someone say “talk the hind leg off a dog” in FOREVER! And doing it with a properly-made cup of tea with home-made scones and *organic* cream would just be heavenly.

      I will do in everything in my power to get to the Blue Mountains and take up this invitation. 🙂

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