Kathleen Hippeli and her husband, Ray, purchased a circa-1917 house in the charming town of Jamesburg with the intent to make it into a tearoom. The transformation process, however, took five years and what Kathleen calls the three Ps: patience, persistence, and perseverance. Finally, on April 20, 2013, One Steep at a Thyme opened for business, with Kathleen doing all the cooking and Ray handling the valet parking.
Afternoon tea at this Saturday-and-Sunday-only tearoom, which will soon expand to weekday service, is an impressive seven-course affair. Consequently, reservations are a must. Before the first morsel is served and after the last crumb is enjoyed, guests freshen their hands with warm, wet washcloths.
Kathleen carefully selects a trio of loose-leaf teas from the many in her inventory to pair with the food. The first course is a choice of soup—her award-winning French onion or a seasonal selection like tomato-basil—often served along with the second course, a house salad topped with pear and dried cranberry. Third is a seasonal quiche or strada, followed by a freshly baked scone such as their signature “cinnarmel” apple flavor. The fifth course comprises an assortment of tea sandwiches. Dainty and delicious desserts of various types are served just before a final, palate-cleansing sorbet. To properly enjoy the teatime feast, each seating is two hours. Food allergies and special diets can usually be accommodated if mentioned when making the reservation.
To educate customers about tea, Kathleen offers tea tastings twice a month. These vary in subject matter and require advance reservations as well.