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Teatime: In the midstate, it’s not just for grownups

When adults reflect on their childhood, some of their earliest forms of make-believe involved a tea set. But when it comes to real tea parties, little ones are often excluded, since so many parents view teatime as an essentially adult activity. Because of this, many lose out on a fun bonding experience.

Two local businesses are taking a more inclusive approach, specializing in tea parties and offering unique experiences for both children and adults.

Manchester Teas and Tarts

Manchester Teas and Tarts is a catering service and tearoom that operates in Elizabethtown at the Coble House, which is part of the Winters Heritage House Museum. Michelle Harris, co-owner of the business, said teas are held every other weekend. “There is a lovely wraparound porch here where people can sit if they want to dine outside,” she said.

Harris, who hails from the U.K., has managed hotels, pubs and restaurants abroad and knows firsthand what is included in an authentic British tea experience. She works alongside Melissa Donley, a professional pastry chef.

According to Donley, guests can expect formal dinnerware, linens, lace and finger sandwiches. “We have teapots and cups for the little ones as well,” she said. Scones are served with clotted cream, imported jam, homemade lemon curd and British desserts, like a Victoria Sponge cake, which Donley says is the queen’s choice of birthday cake. At the conclusion of each tea, guests are treated to one of England’s signature desserts: sticky toffee pudding. “No British tea is complete without it,” said Donley.

As well as hosting teas at the Coble House, Donley and Harris also travel to customers’ homes to set up teas for them upon request. To learn more, visit the Manchester Teas and Tarts Facebook page.

The Enchanted Teapot

Kayla Keating owns The Enchanted Teapot, a traveling tea service based in York County that hosts customized tea parties that include special guests like Elsa from the movie “Frozen,” Rapunzel from the movie “Tangled,” and other characters. “If a boy wanted a tea party with a Captain America as the theme, we can do that,” said Keating, adding that both she and her husband, Lee Howard, dress up as characters.

Menu items include finger sandwiches with ingredients like turkey, ham and cucumber – “although some are content with simply peanut butter and jelly,” said Keating. Scones are also served, along with clotted cream, brownies, cookies and macarons.

Alice Thorne, who recently retired after operating Olivia’s Tea Room in Camp Hill for many years, said that Keating’s parties were always a hit with the little ones.

“They were so good with the kids, and her prices were reasonable. I booked her for birthday parties and all kinds of events.” said Thorne, adding that the tearoom would host teas once a month with a special princess. “The costumes were always spot on,” she said.

Keating said, “It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that you’re making their day by being there as their favorite character. The excitement and joy on their faces when you walk through the door is priceless.”

To learn how you can book a customized tea, visit The Enchanted Teapot on Facebook.

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