The decor of this shop and it's dining rooms is lovely. The front shop has a lovely selection of tea pots, cups and random tea ephemera with what I would call average pricing for these items. The decor in the dining rooms is quite lovely. We were seated in the Victorian dining room which featured nice linens, lovely paintings and beautiful china settings. The room next door had a lovely mural, and was decorated like a garden complete with iron patio furniture. Unfortunately, the decor was pretty much the beginning and end of the positives. My first issue with this tea establishment is the fact that they refer to their basic tea service as a 'high tea' rather than the typical afternoon tea that it is. With so much confusion over the tradition of taking tea, I would hope that they would try to educate the public rather than perpetuate wrong information. Apparently, the shop typically serves one or two pots of 'featured teas' for the whole table, but neither of them were of interest so I asked for a strong, black tea. It was obvious at this point that the manager had very little knowledge about tea. I asked for an Assam or Prince of Wales tea, two black teas that are very well known and in the case of Assam, from a particular region in India, and not in any way 'brand names', but she didn't recognize either. Upon explaining to her what I was looking for in a tea, she offered up recommendations for something completely different that did at least turn out palatable, if not particularly good. While the tea sandwiches were quite good, I found the scones to be incredibly dry and crumbly, so much so that the jam and mock devonshire cream served did little to improve them. My final concern was with the way they handled the reservation for our party. We had fewer than our reservation and they planned to charge us for the no-shows. When we questioned this, the manager insisted that the policy was listed online, but further review shows no mention of this. They worked things out in the end, but it felt as though it was grudgingly done and I will not return to a place that makes me feel like they are doing me a favor to take my money. Ultimately, the mediocre food, lack of tea knowledge and poor service means I can not, in good conscious, recommend them for anyone.
SCH....meet up group girl<BR> I truly took the day to think about the response i would give to 'Tea Map'..<BR> A group of women reserved our Tea Room for 20 on a Saturday...the reservation was confirmed twice the number did go down to 15 the night before and we were happy to welcome them...a deposit was not taken (which is our policy for the number) as is anything that is ordered needs to be paid for ...you can find that on our website on the home page choosing the about the Empress button and then 'booking Events'...we are so committed to excellence and our customer that we continue on an occation to break the rule to make the customers experience with us more than delightful...when SCH came in to represent her party she let us know that they were down to 8 people i told her i was sure we could seat them and explained the policies 'that keep us in business' as we often turn people away on Saturdays for lack of open seats..she informed me that they would be happy to go somewhere elsa..which was not nessisary as we had 20 open seats in her name...we sat the party which was a wonderful group of girls...<BR> i order so many Teas each month as to give our customers the seasonal freshness...it is our practice to offer 2 Tea choices and then move into a conversation with our customers to find a Tea that would suit them if our selection for the day didnt excite them....in fact the meet up group that we were entertaining was given 5 , cranberry-Pomegrante a black fruit tea, Kenya Black, Green Honey Jasmine and a Roibos with Honey and Vanilla...i was excited to have an English women amoung the group as we love to hear their thoughts on our scones..of course on asking she said how wonderful it was to get something so close to home...best shes had since not at home...i quote<BR> ...i stayed with their table giving them fun little etiquite tips and educating on the difference between Devonshire and Clotted Cream...anything form anyone anywhere is 'mock' if we are not in Devonshire....one of my cuties...liking it as to Champaign and Sparkling Wine...everything we do is from scrach here awarding us 5 times in the last 3 years...as well as a beautiful write up in Tea Time Magazine this month....on the shelves now!!!! while it is unfortunate that we do make mistakes and i do love those that love the tea world i feel like there is a place for all things i just find it sad that TeaMap has become a dumping ground.<BR> ...High Tea is service and includes meat, Cheese and Breads while i am aware that High Tea is taken in the evenings this amoung many other adjustments we Americans have taken to enjoy the 'English Ways' on our time schedule...<BR> i apolize for not knowing the region of Assam as i looked it up through wikapedia it is the tea noted as English Breakfast and Irish Breakfas (both of which we always have)when looking up Prince of Whales Tea i was surprised to learn that this is a Tea Twinings was given the rights to ...now understanding the reasons why i was not familiar with them...we purchase our tea from a man with Jofferys 'Chris' who goes into country and buys our teas from the growers and then comes back into Tampa and blends them...we find oursleves very fortunate...another name for Prince of Whales tea is Assam...what an education i have recieved...am so thankful for that!!!!! <BR> SCH we would love to have you join us in our new location as we have outgrown our currant space we are gaining 1000 square feet...more room to love those that pass our way....kim