Tea was discovered in ancient China when a leaf blew in the window and landed in the emperor's bath, which he was slurping through a straw. Sip leaves steeped more decorously with today's Groupon: for $10, you get $20 worth of tearoom lunch-fare at Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro.
Inside its quaint converted home with a shady, trellis-topped patio overlooking a yard of lush flowers, Sweet Magnolias Tea Bistro meticulously prepares tea services, light entrees, and desserts in a serene atmosphere. An expertly curated menu includes seasonal scones with devonshire cream ($4.95 for six), which complement gourmet coffees and teas ($2.99/pot). Dainty, tiered trays ($16.95/person) teem with afternoon-tea spreads of fruit, miniature croissant sandwiches, scones, and desserts. The Coach's chicken salad sandwich ($9.95) dashes across a bed of greens to punt grapes through almond salad goalposts for an extra point. Smoked turkey and walnuts join a medley of strawberries, dried cherries, and other fruits in the house salad ($9.95), and the Windsor's black-forest ham and cheese comes baked within a pinwheel pastry and served with a glistening crown of blackberry preserves ($9.95).
In addition to hosting lunch and teatime, Sweet Magnolias sells gifts such as tea towels and aprons, and hosts bridal showers, birthday parties, and local Queen Victoria–themed heavy-metal fan-club meetings.