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Get Out of Town, | Jan 04, 2014

Classy cafes


Three favorite Southern Indiana tea rooms


TEA-web
Sweetea's Tea Shop, open daily in Nashville, has over 50 flavors of tea for you to try. Photo by Kathryn Moody

Care for a spot of tea?

If so, you aren't alone. Supermarket sales of tea surpassed $2.25 billion in 2012, according to the Tea Association of the USA. And more people--an increase of 10 percent per year--are opting to drink tea in places beyond their own homes. For them, tea rooms have become the new watering holes.

Tea rooms typically have limited hours and lighter food menus, focusing on sandwiches and dessert rather than full-on entrees. The experience is what matters here.

Want in on the trend? 812 spoke with three tea room owners in Southern Indiana. Each brings her local flair to this national obsession.

The Garden Room: Twigs and Sprigs Tearoom

At 8225 S, 90 W, Commiskey Season: Last week of March - October 20.

Hours: 11-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 12-4 p.m. Sunday.

What's the atmosphere? If you're looking for a place to breathe, head to Twigs and Sprigs. Owner Elizabeth George threads tranquility throughout the shop--especially in the mural room. She and her mother hand painted its flowery walls, later adding six little fairies to represent six grandchildren. But the porch is still her favorite place to sit. "When the weather is nice, the porch stays busy all day long," she says. Ceiling fans keep customers cool even during hot summer days.

What should you try? From 2-4 p.m., an afternoon country tea is served. Eat your fill of small sandwiches and scones with a full pot of tea. And don't forget about dessert. Try a blackberry cobbler or bread pudding with bourbon sauce.

Want more? Finish off your trip with a visit to the winery next door.

The Wildcard: Cafe Batar

At 12649 Hwy 50 East, Seymour Season: Mid-March - December 14

Hours: Thursday through Saturday from 11-3 p.m.

What's the atmosphere? No phones are allowed in Cafe Batar, and owner Barbara Tracy stands by the rule. She provides a relaxing, laid-back place void of the interruptions of daily life. Hidden among the towering trees and wandering turkeys of the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Cafe Batar is a serene haven. "A lot of people say it's like going on a vacation when they come here," Barbara says.

What should you try? Barbara's strawberry cream cake and raspberry tea are perennial favorites. For more unusual flavors, try mango peach or cranapple raspberry. Don't forget about the gift and sweets shop, which features William Dean Chocolates, as seen in the Hunger Games films.

Want more? Check out the Parlor Music Museum, run by Barbara's husband. It features vintage music boxes, pump organs, victrolas and nearly every issue of LIFE magazine.

The Newcomer: Sweetea's Tea Shop

At 225 S. Van Buren St., Nashville Open all year

Hours: 9-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9-8 p.m. Saturdays, 11-5 p.m. Sundays

What's the atmosphere? Owner Laura Boyer says people call her store "Starbucks for tea." It's the exact concept she was going for--a modern, sophisticated feel. They have Wi-Fi, and they don't serve meals. But they do offer more than 50 flavors of tea. Interested in trying something? Take a whiff of the tea leaves at the "Sniffing Bar" or try a free sample.

What should you try? Orchid vanilla and sweet orange spice are typical favorites, and sassafras sells quickly. Bubble tea, using fruit bobas, is also a growing favorite and can be paired with any tea. Looking for something even more unusual? Try the pu-ehr tea. It ferments for up to 35 years and has a bold, Scottish, caramel toffee flavor. Most prefer it as a latte because it's so strong, Laura says.

Want more? Bring the kiddies. A kid's area is set up in the corner, tin tea sets and all.

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