Kailua takes tea


POSTED: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm reminded of the perception of Kailua as a world away from Honolulu when talking about A Cup of Tea, a Victorian-style tearoom in Kailua.

“;I haven't been to Kailua in ages,”; admitted one friend. “;I'm not even sure how to get there.”;

The psychological “;distance”; proves to be much greater than the physical distance of about 11 or 12 miles from Honolulu and may be just the mindset a person wants from a tea date. Although it has all the elements of a dining experience, I'd also consider it something of a meditative retreat.

There's something inherently relaxing, romantic and transportive about the English tea tradition. It is familiar and enjoyable, yet different enough from day-to-day reality to induce focus and put you directly in the moment.

I, for one, often have trouble living in the moment because I'm always fretting about future projects and assignments and what else I could or should be doing now. Somehow a tea room puts distractions on hold, such that if you find yourself in need of but unable to spring for a vacation, a trip through the tunnels to A Cup of Tea might be just the temporary escape you need to recharge.

It worked for one friend who monitors her blood pressure daily and found it dropped to a healthy level after a pleasant afternoon at A Cup of Tea. I could take credit for her well-being by providing good company, but I think it was just as likely to be the room's relaxed, feminine charm; attentive service; delightful soup, salad, sandwiches and pastries; and, of course, the heartwarming tea offered in this space.

AS SOON as you're welcomed in, you'll spot the array of teas awaiting your selection. It's difficult to choose just one, but return trips hold the promise of new discoveries. Some of the selections include Night of the Iguana, a chocolate chai with a mild chocolate-cinnamon flavor, lavender Earl Grey, Long Island strawberry and Amanranth or Volcano Flower Burst.





        Kailua Medical Arts Building, 407 Uluniu St., Suite 101 » 230-8832

Food ;*;*;*


Service ;*;*;*;*


Ambience ;*;*;*


Value ;*;*;*;1/2


Hours: 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Sundays


Cost: $19.95 to $29.95 per person


Ratings compare similar restaurants:
        ;*;*;*;* - excellent
        ;*;*;* - very good; exceeds expectations
        ;*;* - average
        ;* - below average.




From there you have three meal options, starting at $19.95 for Nikki's Afternoon Tea. It includes assorted tea sandwiches, fresh-baked scone of the day with preserves and lemon curd, fresh fruit and other desserts with your pot of steeped tea.

The $24.95 Princess Heather's Tea includes all of the above with a choice of soup of the day or salad of the day. That's already a lot of food, but if you think you need more fuel, order the Lady Tiffany Tea ($29.95) for soup and the salad and sandwiches and sweets. It just may depend on what the soup of the day might be, and on my visit it was an irresistible cup of French onion soup. The sandwiches were of cucumber and tomato and egg salad. Simple stuff that, yes, you could probably make at home, but it's always so nice to be served and walk away from the table without having to clean up afterward.

For mother-daughter outings, The Wee Tea ($14.95) is another option for children younger than 10. This includes tea sandwiches and sweets, with a drink choice of tea or lemonade. And if you simply want dessert after lunching elsewhere, two baked scones or dessert with a pot of tea runs $9.95.

TIMING IS GOOD for a visit now as A Cup of Tea makes its transition to a new season with a makeover of its interior. “;Cool Kailua Nights”; from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday night marks the big reveal, when the tearoom is transformed Into A Winter Wonderland, complete with holiday gift items in its boutique. There will be a tea-tasting session with teas from around the world, including the introduction of the tearoom's new signature Heritage Royal Tea.

Throughout the year, the tearoom also plays host to movie nights that call for theme dressing. Guests dressed in 1970s style during a screening of “;Mamma Mia!”;; next up is the 6 p.m. Oct. 24 screening of the movie musical “;Chicago”; with Lady Tiffany tea service and participants invited to show off their Roaring '20s style.

You're always welcome to wear a hat. If you forget yours, borrow a lacy hat from the tearoom's collection.

Nadine Kam's restaurant review appears every Wednesday in the Star-Bulletin. Restaurants are reviewed anonymously. Meals are paid for by the Star-Bulletin.