Destination Tea: The Celtic Cup

Where:  Tullahoma, Tennessee
Style: Celtic cafe in 1920s Craftsman home
Tea Selection:  Edinburgh Tea and Harney & Sons Fine Teas
Teatimes:  Monday through Saturday, 2 to 4 pm
Reservations:  Walk-ins welcome, reservations appreciated for afternoon tea; Reservations required for Monthly Themed Teas
Contact: 931-563-7733
Cost:  $25 Monthly Themed Tea, $18 Afternoon Tea
Destination Tea Tip:  Leave time to treat yourself to a thorough exploration of The Celtic Cup’s gift shop, which sells U.S.-made jewelry and imported Irish, British and Scottish treasures.

Prices and teatimes are subject to change. Please see our Tennessee afternoon tea directory for the latest details.

exterior at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee

Destination Tea Notes: So this is what a talent scout feels like when they stumble upon star material. We just visited one of the best kept secrets of the U.S. afternoon tea scene: The Celtic Cup, in small town Tullahoma, Tennessee, about halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga. Owners Denise and Chris Smith deliver a very special afternoon tea menu, in a setting that transports you overseas, making this destination tea well worth the visit. Chatting with Denise, we quickly see she is the type of person who puts tremendous care into her work, while embracing her creativity. Having been to Ireland, we admire how the Smiths renovated this 1920s home to feel like an authentic Celtic pub. Afternoon tea is also served in the cozy upstairs, lit by stained glass windows, and in warmer weather, we would love to take tea at the outdoor tables that trail around the side of the building to a backyard garden. As enjoyable as this ambiance is, the highlight of the experience is the 3-tiered tray, which displays a selection of scrumptious homemade goodies, peppered with Celtic specialties we have yet to be served at an afternoon tea. Wonderful!

interior at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
Original paintings of the Irish countryside by American artist Margaret Dukeman make a lovely backdrop for our tea table.
tea table setting at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
Green and white teaware are a nod to the Emerald Isle.
The Accolade painting at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
Overlooking our tea table: a print of “The Accolade” (the knighting ceremony) by Victorian English painter Edmund Leighton, known for painting romantic scenes, several of them depicting medieval times. Fittingly, one of Leighton’s first jobs was with a tea merchant.
upstairs tearoom at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
The upstairs dining area, with beautiful stained glass windows and cozy seating areas under the dormers.

Tea Service

green and white teapot at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
The staff preselects our first tea: Heather Tea made in Scotland, a blend of Assam and African black teas, with heather blossoms and flavoring. Perhaps it could have been brewed more strongly, we find it very mildly flavored, and much prefer what comes next.

Scones & Spreads, Savories and Sweets

tea from above at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
The moment we’ve been waiting for
3-tiered tray at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
Denise herself presents the 3-tiered tray, explaining which items have classic Celtic ingredients.
savories at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
Just look at this savory course! House Cream Cheese Spread with Cucumber finger sandwiches, Pimiento Cheese Scones with Ham and Dijon Mustard, English Gloucester Tarts offset this strong blue cheese with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts (so good!), and smartly balancing these hearty offerings, a Kale Cabbage Salad with Cranberries, Candied Pecans, Asiago and Mango Vinaigrette.
scones at at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
On the second tier, delightful Welsh Cakes with Currants and slightly sweet English Cream Scones are served with homemade lemon curd, and Cranberry Orange Nut Bread is baked in mini Bundts. All delicious!
desserts at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
The far and away outstanding dessert is the perfectly moist Cherry Rose Cake (a nod to the English Tudor Rose?), which also reveals an almond flavor. Stuffed Truffles are rich with creamy interior and Profiteroles are filled with a delicate cream. We pass on the very dense Mini Chocolate Bundt cakes, but enjoy the fresh raspberries and strawberries.
gift shop at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
The gift shop displays many treasures, both imported and made in the USA.
scones to go at afternoon tea at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
This scone selection! We appreciate that The Celtic Cup bakes up both savory and sweet scones.
monthly themed afternoon teas at The Celtic Cup in Tullahoma, Tennessee
It must be a real treat to attend the monthly themed teas, some of which feature music and dancing.
DestinationTea
Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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