“All things” Victorian have inspired Debra Youmans since her childhood.
Years later, a woman in her hometown ran a tea room in her Victorian farmhouse – much like the home where Youmans now lives in Montrose. “I was finally able to make an appointment to take my mom and fell in love with all things tea,” she said. “It was just a natural progression to finding my own Victorian to open my own tea room.”
The pink Victorian – located at 197 Lincoln Avenue – is now known as Rose Cottage, where guests are invited to come experience afternoon tea, served American style in the 1865 Carpenter Gothic home.
Youmans said, “We try to help people experience what it would have been like in the mid-1800s to have their calling card accepted and be invited to tea.”
“We did a lot of researching and pouring over Victorian photographs to get a feel of how the house would have appeared in 1865,” she said. “Sourcing everything was great fun! We have tried to keep everything from the furniture to the tea service as authentic as possible.”
Tea is served is spectacular style in three of the downstairs rooms with the collection of linens, teacups, saucers, and tableware Youman has picked up in antique shops.
“I started collecting a few things as a teen,” she recalled. “I had a friend whose family would bring us along on their own antique hunts. The bulk, however, I started grabbing up when the tea room bug hit.”
But running a tea room goes beyond a perfectly set table. It relies on the perfect menu of baked sweet and savory treats.
“I believe I started baking with my first Easy-Bake Oven,” she said. “Though, I must say I learned much in home ec classes.”
To hone her recipes, Youmans bakes up a batch. “If I like them, they go on the menus.”
It’s not always easy. French Macarons have proved challenging for her. “It’s a surprise every batch if they are going on the plate or in the waste bin,” she said.
As expected, teas figure prominently on the Rose Cottage menu.
“We serve all kinds of teas: black, oolongs, ceylongs, pouchongs, whites, greens, herbals, to name a few,” Youmans listed. “I haven’t meant a tea I haven’t liked. I try all of them personally before they are added to our tea list.”
Each month when Rose Cottage is serving tea has its own theme – in July the menu features chocolate.
Rose Cottage is situated in a residential neighborhood in Montrose, and Youmans said it took time to get “all our ducks in a row” to be allowed to operate there. “But our neighbors were all so kind and encouraging, making the process less intimidating.”
Asked her favorite part of the house, Youmans says, “It’s the people in it. Our visitors have been so kind and we love that we are able to help them make memories here.”
“Our hope from the beginning is that we could offer a space where people could come apart from this crazy busy century, step back into a time when life was slower and reconnect and make memories with their loved ones,” Youmans offered. “Life is short…take time for tea!”
Find more information, or to make reservations, visit Rose Cottage on Facebook, or call (607) 351-1781. Tea is served Wednesdays through Saturdays, with two seatings, traditional tea at 11 a.m. and a four-course tea at 2 p.m.