Destination Tea: The Green Room at Springfield Castle

Where:  Drumcollogher, County Limerick, Ireland
Style:  Castle Cafe
Tea Selection:  A dozen bagged and loose leaf teas by Barry’s Tea
Teatimes:  By reservation only
Reservations:  1-week notice
Contact:  +353 87 2503905, +353 87 6474846 or Facebook message
Cost: €35+ Afternoon Tea
Destination Tea Tips:  As The Green Room is on the site of a vacation rental property (Springfield Castle), either call in advance to book a private tea for your group or look for upcoming teas offered to the public by following Springfield Castle on FacebookUse these directions to find the castle’s main drive, which you will follow to its end. Park in front of the castle and enter through the right-most archway to find The Green Room on your left.Springfield Castle in Co. Limerick, IrelandThe Green Room at Springfield Castle

Destination Tea Notes: Newly opened this year at Springfield Castle, The Green Room cafe is the invention of the castle’s custodians, parents Betty and Jonathan Sykes, daughter Karen, son (and chef) Daniel and his partner Alison Day Lee. If not for The Green Room’s stone walls and sprawling, nobly landscaped courtyard, we could easily imagine ourselves in downtown Atlanta, at a hot new restaurant with upcycled decor, bright splashes of color, locally grown “slow food” and that hipster admiration for all things retro. To complete the vibe, there’s even a food truck out front. Meals are made from scratch and feature many ingredients (as well as beautiful floral centerpieces) grown on site or sourced locally. Daniel and Ali run the cafe, planning seasonal menus for Saturday breakfast and lunch, and special dining events (such as our fabulous afternoon tea, which as you’ll see below, is truly a family production). While you may find yourself admiring The Green Room’s cheerful, relaxed energy, you will most definitely revel in its homemade, resplendent afternoon tea. Come hungry!

entering the green room cafe at Springfield Castle
Earning its name, The Green Room wears green hues from seats to ceiling.
Mix-n-match floral china patterns at The Green Room at Springfield Castle
Mix-n-match floral china patterns

Tea Service

Barry's Teas served at the Green Room at Springfield Castle
The lovely Ali displays our tea choices, while Daniel preps the meal.
tea strainers at The Green Room at Springfield Castle
We choose a black tea and an herbal “Very Berry” to pass in pots around the table.
Homemade elderflower cordial at Springfield Castle's The Green Room
A popular, slightly sweetened summer cordial, homemade from elderflowers makes for a refreshing alternative to our caffeinated tea.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

tea table at The Green Room at Springfield Castle
Just look at this magazine-cover-worthy tea table! The botanical themed decorations perfectly suit the castle’s garden-to-table culture.
tea sandwiches at the Green Room at Springfield Castle
Scrumptious, fresh tea sandwiches include smoked salmon with cream, cucumber pinwheels, egg and bean sprouts on white triangles, and cooked ham and mustard on brown sourdough.
scones at The Green Room at Springfield Castle
Betty’s freshly made scones served with cream and Jonathan’s jam
Vanilla cupcakes with confetti icing, ginger biscuits (aka cookies) made by Ali's mom and brownines
We begin going halfsies on the desserts once we realize this course features a myriad of temptations including vanilla cupcakes with confetti icing, ginger biscuits (aka cookies) by Ali’s mom, brownies by Ali and…
The Green Room at Springfield Castle tea curate
A (divine) crème brûlée each and…
Pavlova at The Green Room at Springfield Castle
Homemade pavlova (a favorite Irish dessert) with berries, which has a crisp meringue exterior and is soft and moist inside. Delicious!

Destination Tea: Mount Juliet Estate

Where:  Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Style:  Georgian Manor
Tea Selection:  8 organic loose-leaf teas
Teatimes:  Daily 1-5
Reservations:  Pre-paid reservations required
Contact:  +353 56 777 3000
Cost: €30 Afternoon Tea€15 Children’s Afternoon Tea
Destination Tea Tip:  Leave time for a stroll in the gardens, which you’ll pass on your way to the Manor House where tea is served, at the rear of the property.Entrance to Mount Juliet Estate Manor House

Destination Tea Notes:  Surpassing the afternoon tea experience typically found at an upscale hotel, with such hallmarks as a luxurious setting, perfectly executed housemade culinary delights and excellent service, Mount Juliet Estate also offers a moderately priced afternoon tea that calls on locally sourced ingredients (a practice we found throughout Ireland). We felt properly indulged and in these 18th century rooms, are as ladies of a passed era, taking our tea in the library.

Upon our request to know more about this beautiful manor, a pamphlet is provided, titled, “A Great Heritage & A Love Story.” We learn that during Ireland’s Civil War, when many “big houses” were burned, Mount Juliet was spared because the surrounding community respected and protected the owners, who had been fair employers and community benefactors. This inspires the girls to share some of their history lessons as we await our tea. And when the afternoon tea trays arrive, the expression on my niece’s face speaks for all of us (see it in Destination Tea’s Instagram feed).

Secret garden entrance at Mount Juliet Estate Manor House
Secret garden entrance
Foyer of the Manor House in Mount Juliet Estate
Gorgeous!
Afternoon tea is served in the Major's Bar at Mount Juliet Estate
Afternoon tea is served in the Major’s Bar, with a variety of upholstered armchairs gathered around low tables set with bright white tablecloths.
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a lovely view of horses crossing the sprawling lawns at Mount Juliet Estate
Floor-to-ceiling windows offer a lovely view of horses crossing the sprawling lawns. If we had been a smaller party, this would have been my preferred table.
The library at Mount Juliet Estate
We are hosted in the darker toned library, seated in an array of leather and velvety armchairs and loveseat.

Tea Service

Tea menu at Mount Juliet Estate
We appreciate knowing a bit about the teas served, and that they are hand-picked, organic, loose-leaf offerings. Each guest may choose a tea, coffee or hot chocolate.
Tea is served at Mount Juliet Estate
Silver teapots and pretty china pattern
Iced mint tea at Mount Juliet Estate
For this summertime tea, our server graciously offers to ice any of the teas (my daughter requests iced mint tea).
Prosecco at Mount Juliet Estate
An important addition for moms only:  Prosecco aperitif

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

Tea curate at Mount Juliet Estate
We sit up straight when this curate arrives – amazing!
Generously portioned tea sandwiches include smoked salmon (so fresh!), chicken, ham (baked and sliced), egg mayo (aka egg salad) and cucumber on brown bread (a whole wheat bread made with molasses and wheat germ).
Scones and spreads at Mount Juliet Estate
Scones done perfectly with cream, jam (so good!) and lemon curd
Dessert tray at Mount Juliet Estate
Playful lemonades with passionfruit topping preside over the dessert tier which also includes strawberry custard cup, opera cake, madeleine, almond pound cake and outstanding passionfruit choux (aka cream puff).
Children's afternoon tea at Mount Juliet Estate
The Children’s Afternoon Tea includes Nutella with brioche, bagel with chive cream cheese, breadsticks, ham and cheese sandwiches, cupcakes and cookies, which would be plenty…
Dessert for children's tea at Mount Juliet Estate
…and it’s topped with vanilla milkshakes, white chocolate cake pops, marshmallows, rocky road and mini knickerbocker glory (fruit jello parfait with cream). Clearly, the children had an excellent time.

 

Destination Tea: Vintage Tea Tours

Where:  Dublin, Ireland
Style:  1960s Retro
Tea Selection:  Variety of bagged teas, coffee, hot chocolate
Teatimes:  Wednesday to Sunday – 11, 1:15 or 3:30
Reservations:  Pre-paid reservations required
Contact:  +353 1 6773541 or book online
Cost: 
€50 VIP Top Deck; 45 Adult; 25 Child (ages 6 to 14)
Destination Tea Tips:  Choose upper deck or window seats for the best views. While tipping in Ireland is not expected, you might bring some cash (Euros) to thank your servers/tour guides/driver.Vintage Tea Tours 1960s Double-Decker

Destination Tea Notes:  Inspired by afternoon tea bus tours in England, Vintage Tea Tours has brought this great concept to Dublin, Ireland. Especially for newcomers to the city (not yet accustomed to driving on the left), this would be an excellent activity for your first day, because it’s a festive and relaxing way to familiarize yourself with Dublin and its main sights. Adults and children alike are enthralled upon entering the 1960’s double-decker bus, smiling at the pretty bunting over our heads as we slip into our green tufted leather seats. Tea trays are at the ready, 1950’s jazz begins to play, our drink orders are taken, and we are on our way. How does one serve afternoon tea while rambling through this bustling city? You’ll soon see!

Entering the lower deck of our Vintage Tea Tour bus
Finding our seats at the front of the bus
Table setting at Vintage Tea Tours
Our tables are set with china plates cleverly kept from sliding by sitting on mini rug pads. Beautifully illustrated keepsake guides give an in-depth explanation of the sights we’ll see.
Hosts on the Vintage Tea Tour bus
Both tour guide and server, our hosts Jack and Jack keep us full of hot beverages, and interested in Dublin trivia with pop quizzes. They are consummate hosts, taking time to chat with us and advise us on our itinerary.

Tea Service

Tea cups on Vintage Tea Tours
Tea is served in souvenir screw-top insulated cups, kept secure in cup holders set into the table at each place setting. Guests have a variety of teas to choose from, as well as non-tea options. The kids love their hot chocolates, though one daughter does opt for a fruity pomegranate tisane. I enjoy my Earl Grey from Robert Roberts, fittingly a century-old Dublin-based tea company.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

tea tray at Vintage Tea Tours
Scrumptious afternoon tea tray at the ready, again kept secure by a rug pad underneath
Clotted cream at Vintage Tea Tours
After following Rodda’s Cream Tea Society on social media for a couple years, we are a bit starstruck to be trying their Cornish clotted cream for the first time. Looks like butter, but spreads so easily that we understand how the Cornish can put it over their jam. We spread gourmet strawberry preserves over fruit scones that are a bit more dense than we’d like, but tasty all the same.
Tea sandwiches at Vintage Tea Tours
Tea sandwich selection includes egg salad (called “egg mayo” in Ireland), ham and cheese (a favorite) and jam, all good and of generous portions.
Because we added another person at the last minute, they are so gracious as to give us an extra plate of sandwiches, this one with a chicken curry (so good!).
Desserts include a strawberry cheesecake (fabulous), chocolate brownie and fruit custard tartlet.
Back of Vintage Tea Tour bus
We agree: tea is liquid therapy. P.S. How fun would it be to book the whole bus for a bachelorette party or bridal shower?