Being a tea lover almost automatically gives me an affinity for antiques. I am always looking for places that have several antique stores close together. This week I went to an area in Denver called "Antique Row." It is located just south of downtown Denver near I 25 and Broadway. This was my first trip to Antique Row and I found a well-kept arcanum: a lovely little tearoom. What could be better? Antiques and tea!
My friend, Mary, and I started out early in the morning on Antique Row. As we were driving on Broadway, we saw the Capital Tea Room. I exclaimed, "Oh, look, Mary, a tea room. We should go there for lunch!" Mary agreed and we decided that we would visit a few more shops and then go for lunch. After exploring some very delightful antique stores, we parked near a Victorian house turned antique store, and had a very informative visit with the owner of Spencer House Antiques. If you want English articles, this is the place to go. The owner makes several trips a year to England and has a shop full of very unusual items. She then confirmed our decision to have lunch at the Capital Tea Room.
We were delighted as we entered what seemed like a little European cafe. The walls were done with a soft and pleasing old world effect. On one wall was the most impressive set of three large pictures depicting an interesting view of the area and it's connection to tea. I learned that the owner's sister who is a graphic designer created this. The tearoom had about 10 small square tables in the shop, each adorned with a small teapot and fresh flowers, and also an area with a couple of couches and a coffee table. Wynne, the tea-tender for the tearoom, promptly welcomed us and made us feel at home. She was the perfect greeter, a former customer who had become an employee. A few minutes after looking over the menu, we met the owner, Lisa Biro. She informed us that all the baked goods were made fresh in their own kitchen and local produce was used as much as possible for the items on the menu. Mary and I chose from the selection of 7 very enticing sounding sandwiches: smoked salmon and marinated cucumber and the Other Turkey Sandwich. The menu also boasts five organic salads.
We chose a table by the window and were quickly served our teas. Both of us had our own little 3-cup (16 oz) teapot. The tea was hot and flavorful and made with loose-leaf tea. Our teapots arrived with the tea already strained, so we didn't have to worry about the tealeaves sitting in the pot too long. This can make a very bitter tasting tea. I chose the Prince of Wales blend and Mary had the Black Jasmine Creme'. We each decided we had made wise choices. I mention that the teas were made from loose-leaf tea for a reason. Many tearooms around the country (and the world) have reverted to using teabags. By using loose-leaf tea, the flavor is so much better than with tea bags. In fact, if you have never used loose-leaf tea, you are missing a very vital part of enjoying tea. I use milk in my tea and was delighted that I was not served cream. Cream, half and half, and flavored creamers are never served with tea, only milk. The cups and saucers were delicate and a little smaller than an 8-ounce cup. The sandwiches were fresh and grilled just ever so slightly, with a very nice side salad topped with a tangy vinaigrette. The list of teas is quite extensive with over 50 varieties; from the traditional black to top shelf first flush Darjeeling's. All of the teas are available for purchase in bulk. Not to miss out on the baked goods, we ordered an almond shortbread to go, (which we thoroughly enjoyed later in the afternoon).
The highlight of our visit to Capital Tea was getting to know the owner, Lisa Biro, a Denver native and mother of 2 boys. Lisa told me she has always had a passion for tea and after 15 years of working at the University of Denver, decided to follow her dream and open a tearoom. Capital Tea has been in business for 3 1/2 years and seems to be a wonderful fit for this area of Denver. Lisa has a venue for all ages, men, women and children, with a special Child's Lunch. An added attraction for computer gurus' is free wireless Internet!
She participates with the other business in the Antique Row District on First Fridays where the stores stay open late and have special activities. March is bringing local music to Capital Tea, which promises to be a great way to start the weekend. We found the prices to be reasonable with sandwiches ranging from $6.99 to $8.50 and salads $7.99 to $8.99. A 16 oz teapot was $3.00 and a 24 oz teapot was $4.00. She also offers a nice range of soft drinks. I think one suggestion would be to offer a refill on the teapot, but other than that, Mary and I were happy with our experience.
I thank Lisa and Wynne for a tea-riffic lunch and a great cup of tea. Even though I am more of a lover of English tearooms, I so enjoyed my first visit to Capital Tea and plan to make it a regular stop on my travels to the big city from Longmont!
1450 S. Broadway
Denver, CO 80210
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays
Closed Sunday and Monday
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