Motherload Tea Room
Thursday, October 8, 1998
Tea fanciers have long known that their favorite drink has nothing to do with dangling a little bag into a cup of hot water. Nor is it consumed simply as a means to alleviate thirst. The allure is found in the comfort of the ritual, one that elevates the simple comfort of a steaming cuppa to a level of quiet celebration.
Partial to this philosophy, Kym Estep found that her love of antiques had won her quite a collection of fine old china teapots and hand-stitched linens, an eclectic array that she opted to put to use alongside her antique shop. As well as a place to browse among finely crafted old furniture, gifts and art objects, the Motherload is also a tea room with more than a dozen varieties of loose-leaf teas and tisanes, each pot brewed and served in the classic style.
"All of our teas are truly the highest quality," Estep points out, with The Republic of Tea being her brand of choice. It's a list with a range of flavors that circumnavigates the globe, with varieties like Mango Ceylon, a 'metabolic frolic' black tea derived from mangoes and marigold blossoms. Enticing blends like blackberry and white sage, and cinnamon plum are offered as well as old favorites like a 'grey-er' Earl Grey, still sweet and citrusy, but more of a good thing.
Even if you're a tee-totaler when it comes to the brewed leaf, Motherload's array of herbal varieties might make you think again. There's the organic, caffeine-free Temple of Health, derived from herbs and spices promising to boost the immune system, and a soft and spicy orange gingermint, blended with bergamot and other uncommon botanicals. For something completely different, the flowering fruit herb tea is a blend of hibiscus and sweet dried fruits.
So you're contentedly sipping your steaming brew...what's to eat? The menu in and of itself is simple and, at the same time, enticing to an extreme--especially if you're studying your manuscript at home alone, fantasizing over Brie, warm and melting over vine-ripened Roma tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Of course, your mind may wander to thoughts of Black Forest ham with honey mustard and parmesan mayo on crusty rosemary sourdough. Or the roast beef with feta and roasted red peppers and basil. Or the soy-marinated mango chicken, with hints of garlic--all torturous to consider from a remote, nocturnal outpost in a starved and deadline-driven state. Especially if you allow your mind to wander, distracted by thoughts of a big bowl of Motherload's homemade, curried butternut squash soup.
Being seated at one of the Motherload's cozy, colorfully mismatched place settings is far preferable to busting your brain in front of a computer. Estep's finesse with creating ambiance has much to do with her long-time catering career, as the owner of Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, a business that she continues from the same site. "My love affair with food all started with The Galloping Gourmet, 20 years ago," she laughs. "And it's continued by reading every cookbook I can get my hands on!" In fact, her free hours, though in short supply, are spent working on her own cookbook, a collection of recipes acquired over the years.
To artfully extinguish lunchtime cravings, to splurge with a wedge of triple-layered chocolate madness filled with hazelnut cream, or simply to gather your thoughts over a cup of soothing tea with a mid-day break, the Motherload Tea Room offers a welcome respite. cw