Destination Tea: Columbiana Inn, Hearts Desire Tea Room

Where:  Columbiana, Alabama
Style:  Victorian
Tea Selection:  15 loose leaf teas
Teatimes:  Daily 12 pm, for parties of 4 or more*
(*open to smaller parties when large parties have reserved)
Reservations:  48-hour notice minimum
Contact:  205-669-1450
Cost:  $22 Afternoon Tea
Destination Tea Tips:  Seating is limited here, so reserve well in advance, and remember that they may take smaller parties on days when they are already opening the tearoom for a reserved large party.

exterior Columbiana Inn, Alabama

Destination Tea Notes: Rarely do we experience an afternoon tea that delights us in all things: homemade delights, varied high-quality teas, gracious service, beautiful ambiance and creative touches that show our hostess has an eye for detail and artistry. How fortunate then, when our travels take us to Alabama, where we enjoy just such an afternoon tea — prepared by Diane Moore, at her Columbiana Inn Hearts Desire Tea Room, where she has been serving afternoon tea for fifteen years. Her experience shows, as she personally delivers course after course of house recipes she makes herself. We are still talking about her chicken salad and homemade lemon curd. And as families and friends quietly converse under chandeliers in this 1889 parlor, we could almost feel we have traveled back in time to celebrate a Victorian Christmas teatime.

Tearoom at Columbiana Hearts Inn, Alabama
Hearts Desire Tea Room teatables are set in the living and dining rooms of the Columbiana Inn, true to the style of the original American tearooms
teatime at Columbiana Inn, Alabama
Our lovely view of the Christmas tree nook
makes our teatime feel festive.
tea hats at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
Time for the finishing touch to our tea attire!
tea hats at Columbiana Inn, Alabama
Hearts Desire Tea Room offers one of the most varied tea hat collections we have seen yet. There is truly something fabulous for everyone.
antique silver tea set at Hearts Desire Tea Room
For example, look at my confectionary delight! Also, note the lovely silver tea set and elaborately carved antique sideboard.

Tea Service

loose leaf tea menu Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
Each guest chooses one tea from a tempting variety of teas. We settle on Monk’s Blend and Buckingham Palace Garden Party, both delicious.
pouring tea at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
The tea strainers here are just for effect, as the teas are already decanted in the kitchen.
Isn’t this a pretty blue-flowered tea cup?

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

chicken salad and quiche at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
The first course is nearly a meal in itself, and a delicious one at that: “panic chicken salad” (so-named because Diane whipped it together in a panic in the early days of the tearoom), and veggie quiche. We agree Diane’s curried chicken salad is one of the best we’ve tasted.
three-tier tea tray at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
Our next course includes scones and tea sandwiches displayed on a gleaming three-tier stand with beaded edge.
Hearts Desire Tea Room cream cheese scones
Hearts Desire Tea Room’s signature cream cheese scone has a more dense, satiny crumb, while the cranberry orange scone balances a tart sweetness. This tier also includes banana bread, and is accompanied by homemade lemon curd and homemade clotted cream with almond. Our 12-year-old reviewer artfully voices for her generation:
“This lemon curd is the Bomb.com!”
tea sandwiches at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
Our favorite of the tea sandwiches is the spring tomato sandwich, and we are touched by the sweet ribbon rose on the cucumber sandwich, followed by homemade pimiento cheese on wheat and smoked turkey on raisin.
dessert folding cake stand at Hearts Desire Tea Room, Alabama
When dessert is served on a vintage chrome folding cake stand, we are delighted but not surprised. Part of what make’s Diane’s tearoom special is these touches from another era. You may want to split these buttery and rich desserts, which include a sugar baby, lemon square and Hearts Desire brownie with cream cheese icing and toasted almonds.
Hearts Desire brownies, Alabama
Diane’s customers won’t let her take the tearoom’s signature brownie off the menu (they love it so), and we smile at its hallmark heart shape.
DestinationTea
Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

1 Comment

  1. LOVE THIS! I wish I was in the South to come to the next one. There is a tea company in LA called Tea Vibes ( at http://www.teavibes.com ) and supposedly they are gonna be doing something beautiful like this. If it happens I will be sure to follow up on my experience.

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