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Bid adieu to 'Downton Abbey' with British-style tea time
Annastasia's Tea Room serves up various tea parties
0224TEA TIME6
Homemade desserts are served on a three-tiered dish during high tea at Annastasia’s Tea Room in downtown Gainesville. The bite-size desserts include blueberry scones on the bottom, lemon meringue tart on the middle and chocolate-covered peanut butter balls on the top.

Annastasia’s Tea Room

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Location: 109 Washington St., Gainesville

Phone number: 770-287-1181 

Website: www.serenity-massage-and-day-spa.com/tearoom.html

If you’re a fan of “Downton Abbey,” chances are you’re soon to be in a funk.

After six seasons, PBS’s “Masterpiece” series will air its series finale March 6, leaving scores of Anglophiles crying in their crumpets.

During the six seasons, fans have seen births, deaths, war (not only the declared World War I) and peace among the residents of Downton Abbey. During all of the events, the family has been dressed to the nines while the servants sport the same old attire of black-and-white uniforms.

But one constant between the upstairs and downstairs is tea time. Whether Lady Grantham is calling for afternoon tea with the Dowager Countess or the cook Ms. Patmore is having a spot of tea with housekeeper Ms. Hughes (now married to Mr. Carson), tea time is a constant. And what is more British than tea time and the food that goes with it?

For Gainesville residents wanting to experience an afternoon tea and a high tea (yes, there is a difference), Annastasia’s Tea Room at 109 Washington St. in downtown Gainesville is happy to oblige.

Annastasia’s cook Cody Cantrell said while the tea room serves lunch between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. with soups and sandwiches, it offers a variety of tea parties, including the British versions.

“The afternoon tea is more of a traditional three-course meal,” Cantrell said as he stood in the dining room which seats about 30-35.

It starts with a three-tier tray with the bottom layer filled with finger sandwiches, the middle rack sporting desserts and the top tray featuring fruit. Customers choose three sandwiches from the menu, which include chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad and wicked pimento salad as well as cold cuts such as ham, turkey and roast beef.

Accompanying the food is the tea, which customers can choose from a list of more than 100 teas ranging from black and green to herbal. It costs about $8 per person.

High tea is usually served to larger groups. If the group is four people or larger,  a reservation is required, according to the Annastasia’s Tea Room website.

The first course starts off with a cup of seasonal fruit and a choice of three soups served on a crystal tray. The most popular soups are broccoli and cheese, Italian wedding, white bean chicken chili and ham and bean, Cantrell said. Of course, it is accompanied with the traditional two-cup pot of tea, he said.

“What’s different between the afternoon tea and the high tea is instead of the food on one three-tiered tray is it’s split up,” Cantrell said. “You get a full three-tier tray of sandwiches and a full three-tier tray of desserts.”

The second course is a sampling of the sandwiches, Cantrell said. Following that is the desserts, which are bite-size samples, too. On Tuesday, he served blueberry scones, lemon meringue tart and chocolate-covered peanut butter balls.

Cantrell added most customers or groups usually box up the leftovers to take home.

The tea service is not limited to the tea room. Donna Reeves, who owns and operates the tea room and Serenity Massage and Day Spa, caters to weddings and other luncheons, said Marie Steinsberger, secretary for the tea room and spa.

“She has been asked (recently) to prepare a high tea at a wedding reception,” Steinsberger said.

And tea parties are not for adults only. The tea room offers a handful of events for little girls, including a girls tea party, a princess-inspired tea party, a Mad Hatter tea party, a sweetly Southern tea party and a teddy bear tea party.

“Donna even tells the girls the origins of tea, where it came from on the plant and everything else,” Marie said. “The more expensive the tea, the higher the tea (leaf) is on the tree.”

Adults and children aren’t the only ones who get pleasure out of the tea parties.

“I like the tea parties because it a way to essentially be creative,” Cantrell said. “With the tea parties, they are constantly changing. I love having the variety of things to try.”

Therefore, before you bid farewell to the Crawley family of “Downton Abbey,” you can have one tea time with them before they depart from the television

For more information on Annastasia’s Tea Room, call 770-287-1181.

Tribune News Service contributed to this story.

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