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B&B's and Tea: Where Cups Are Coupled with Experiences

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There is something very civilized about drinking tea, and not just because the experience can be ceremonious when it comes to afternoon endeavors. Tea rituals and tastings often unite flavors from around the world into one aromatic experience made more enticing by sharing. Nowhere is this more apparent than bed and breakfasts. Across the country, numerous inns offer a variety of tea-based activities designed with both connoisseurs and the merely curious in mind.

Voss Inn Bed & Breakfast

Tea events at the elegant Voss Inn Bed & Breakfast in Bozeman, MT satisfy sippers on multiple levels and feature expert insights from innkeeper Frankee Muller, who is also an ITMA (International Tea Masters Association) Certified Tea Master. Not only is tea her beverage of choice, it's her passion and one that she is thrilled to share with guests to the inn, who relish its Victorian charm and modern amenities. Frankee serves an informal afternoon tea on a daily basis as well as elaborate traditional afternoon teas by reservation. She leads monthly tea tastings (previous topics include "Darjeeling Through the Seasons" and "The History of Tea in Japan"), and she has founded a virtual tea shop, A Thirst for Tea. It carries both popular and well-known teas in addition to rare, artisan whole leaf selections from world-renowned tea estates and small historic tea gardens. With so many choices available to tea enthusiasts at the inn, they will have a new found appreciation and understanding of tea after their stay - and no concerns about having an empty cup while they are there.

Making Waves Boatel

Can you keep a secret? Nestled in the heart of Canada's largest metropolitan city is perhaps one of Toronto's best-kept secrets, Making Waves Boatel. Not only can you experience a unique accommodation on the water, but they also offer with vast ocean of teas to choose from. "We toured the Charleston Tea Plantation many years ago while visiting South Carolina, and thus began my education and appreciation for teas," reveals innkeeper Diane Greene. "I lost count of how many different teas I now have on board. I get excited when I have tea drinkers because I have a vast selection to delight them with. The first question is always Black, Green, Chai or Herbal? Next hot or iced? It's usually hot in the morning and iced in the afternoon but sometimes on hot summer days I get the occasional iced requested." Some personal favorites which never fail to impresses her guests are Oliver Puff & Co.'s Key Lime Green Tea, and similarly, their Masala Chai prepared with water and hot milk simmered on the stove on low heat. "Being Canadian we add Maple Syrup to everything, so why not tea? I personally prefer loose tea to tea bags because they offer the greatest bold flavor," adds Diane. "The question is never as simple as: would you like tea? It is just the beginning of a dialogue about tea. Coffee will also be popular but tea is as unique as the many different cups it is served in."

Miss Spenser's of Longview Farms

England's beloved national pastime heads stateside to the pastoral setting of Miss Spenser's of Longview Farms in New Virginia, IA (just 30 minutes south of Des Moines). This quaint countryside bed and breakfast has been proudly serving its guests an authentic British teatime luncheon in its onsite English tea room for more than 10 years. The experience features gourmet teas and delicious home-baked tea fare that include the freshest ingredients, which are artfully presented on three tiered trays. For innkeeper Donna Hardin and her team, pampering guests with attentive service is a top priority as they sit back, sip in, and savor the inn's English-cottage atmosphere. Tea lovers can also indulge in the opportunity to purchase a selection of fine loose leaf teas onsite or online including black teas; green & oolong teas; flavored teas; and chai & herbal teas. Decaffeinated options are available for those who relish the ceremony and taste, but not a necessarily the caffeine. The inn also offers unique gifts that are ideal for tea enthusiasts and friends.

A Storybook Inn

Tea enthusiasts will sip happily ever after at A Storybook Inn in Versailles, KY. This award-winning, magnificently restored historic inn tastefully creates beautiful Full Teas on a seasonal and specialty basis for occasions that may include a glorious Welcome-to-Spring Tea or a fanciful Christmas Tea. Attendees come from miles around to experience these special events that combine live music, an art show, and top-notch edibles with stunning presentation. Excellence is never optional to owner/innkeeper Elise Buckley and staff. Teas are high-quality loose selections in clear infusion pots, individually prepared and kept at the right temperature on clear blown glass lighted bases. Everything edible is made fresh at the inn, featuring health-conscious ingredients; no trans-fats or high fructose corn syrup. A Flavia coffee/tea maker is also available at all times in the Main Inn and Guest House, providing a variety of coffees and teas to choose from made with filtered water.

Gillum House

With more than 100 teas currently available, Gillum House in Shinnston, WV does not disappoint when it comes to choice. Tea gourmands headed to this cozy B&B will find a custom-built Tea Hutch 60 inches wide to feast their eyes on - and it includes almost any flavor they can fathom. There are also plenty of accessories to stir some excitement in this special tea-making area of the house, including infusers, strainers, make your own tea bags, tea pots, and tongs. As an avid tea lover herself, innkeeper Kathleen Panek had so many teas to choose from having the Tea Hutch constructed was the ideal way to stay organized while providing guests an easy way to pick and choose what their palates prefer. "Most guests stand in front of the teas and say, 'Oh my God!' Then many of them choose English Breakfast," reveals Kathleen. "I like the rooibos teas because I have a tendency to get distracted and rooibos does not 'over-steep.' The Bourbon Street Vanilla is especially good. The Freshpak sent to me from South Africa by innkeeper Steyn DeVilliers is also excellent."