New tea shop captures 18th century atmosphere
Sharon Hedges, owner and proprietor of the newly opened Ye Olde Myst Tea House at 141 W. German St., brings her childhood memories from “across the pond” to delight patrons with the intoxicating aromas of her specialty tea blends.
In fact, the whole shop is a throwback to a bygone era.
“I think the uniqueness of the store is the age of the store,” said Hedges. “We’re trying to bring it back to the late 1700s-1800s. I’m very much a historian, an antiques collector. Everything in here gives the feel of that era. I’m blending a ‘steampunk’ theme with a very European old world feel. It’s really hit it off with a lot of people. They love that the history is coming back.”
Hedges moved to West Virginia from England in 1989, then relocated to San Francisco and recently moved back to Eastern Panhandle. Her background is running pubs, but she also is a paranormal investigator and tarot reader on the side, as well as an avid book reader. Her tea house incorporates all of her interests and passions, not only in atmosphere, but activities too.
“I really love it here. I like the California flair and I like an ‘England’ feel to things. I think Shepherdstown has that,” said Hedges. “Shepherdstown is very English, but very Californian at the same time. I think Ye Olde Myst fits here.”
The menu includes English breakfast offerings, cold sandwiches and paninis with ham, turkey, bacon or portobellos, scones, cookies and cakes and of course, coffee and teas.
Hedges offers a ‘high tea’ experience by reservation.
“High tea is a very interesting experience,” said Hedges. “It’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s about the ambiance and what you feel when you come to high tea. It’s how it’s presented, kind of formal, but relaxed at the same time. I like it to be very pretty and aromatic. The smell, the feel, the taste-all of those areas is my idea of high tea. And of course, I ask people to wear their hats.”
Many of the teas that Hedges offers are blended specifically to capture memories she had as a child in England.
“‘Eton Myst’ is after the University in London where they used to do the rowing competitions,” said Hedges. “After the competitions they used to have a party that my grandparents would take me to. At the end they would have this big meringue dessert with cream and raspberries. I always loved that smell, so I created the Eton Myst tea. People love it. It’s got meringue pieces in it, strawberries, vanilla, rosebuds, you name it.”
The Battenberg Tea blend comes from another childhood memory of her grandmother’s Battenberg cake. It contains roasted almonds, rose blooms, cardamom and vanilla.
The signature house blend tea is called 1800, containing orange rind, rose petals, blackberry and lime pieces.
Not to be outdone by the teas, Hedges offers coffee drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and the like made by her impressive La Pavoni Bar Star machine straight from Milan, Italy.
Although only open two weeks, Hedges said business has been good and she has many things in the works. She plans to add ice cream by May 1, in order to make “Insanity Milkshakes”, which are sweeping the United Kingdom. Additionally, she has book club events, a Mother’s Day tea, and a weekly Tai Chi and tea event planned.
The shop is open 7 days a week, hours are: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Reservations can be made by calling 650-457-3212. For more information and to view upcoming events, visit Ye Olde Myst Tea House on Facebook.