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Not Your Mother’s Tea Party

Seven-year-old Emily DelVecchio, daughter of David and Karena DelVecchio of Wheeling, offers her mom an early Mother’s Day hug.

You don’t have to be a tea drinker to enjoy the benefits of a tea party. Mothers and daughters, grandmothers and aunts, sisters and cousins — who among them hasn’t enjoyed sitting around a gaily-decorated table for a spot of tea and bite-size eats?

From the time we can take steps to sit around a toddler-sized table, tea parties have been part of the growing up process, mostly among the female sex. That, however, does not mean gentlemen young and old aren’t welcome to join in the fun.

Tea parties of my youth often meant pretty tablecloths, tiny china teapots, cups and saucers. There would be finger sandwiches with the crusts removed. My mom enjoyed making white bread sandwiches filled with pineapple cream cheese and then cutting the bread into fun shapes.

As we grew older, tea parties morphed into more mature events such as bridal and baby showers, wine tasting events and today’s paint and sip events.

Yet, what was tried and true has remained in vogue throughout the tri-state area with a number of unique and interesting teahouses to visit. When life returns to some sense of normalcy and gatherings are welcomed, why not take a weekend and visit a few teahouses with some coffeehouses thrown in for those who prefer the deeper flavor of the coffee bean.

In Wheeling, we are fortunate to have an elegant teahouse experience at the historic Eckhart House Tea Room located at 810 Main St., an 1892 Queen Anne town home in North Wheeling’s Historic District.

During normal operating hours, teas are offered on Saturdays, May through December by reservation. In addition, there is a gift shop and tours of the building.

For many local families, the Oglebay Institute holiday tea held in November at the Stifel Fine Arts Center in Wheeling is an annual tradition. While event calendars are far from being confirmed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hoped this event will go on.

A short jaunt to Barnesville, Ohio, visitors will find the Belmont County Victorian Mansion at 532 N.Chestnut St.

This lovely building also offers a holiday tea event.

However, you don’t need a holiday to enjoy a teahouse experience. There are dozens of unique, small business teahouses within an hour or so drive time of Wheeling. While not billed a teahouse, Wheeling Coffee and Spice at 13 14th St., offers tea and hot chocolate along with its special blends of coffee. The same can be found at the Wheeling Coffee Shoppe at 101 Washington Ave., where the outdoor seating is a popular gathering place.

In Weirton, you can find the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 3420 Pennsylvania Ave. while across the river in Steubenville, Leonardo’s Coffeehouse and Renaissance Coffee Roasting Co., 159 N Fourth St., is a lure for anyone preferring special coffee blends.

The Washington-Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania areas are dotted with coffee and teahouses that are worth a day’s trip of exploration. The Gathering Place Tea Room at 438 E. National Pike in Washington is popular among visitors. Jan’s Tea Shoppe at 2183 E. National Pike, Scenery Hills, Pa. also invites a look. Uniquely Yours Tea Room at 910 Main St., Hickory, Pa. is another shop that lives up to its name.

There are many more places to explore, but it’s best to call ahead to determine what and when businesses plan to reopen as states lift social distancing restrictions.

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