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 Your usual cup of tea just got an upgrade. Enjoy a lovely spread of scones, cookies and sandwiches at Miss Minerva's.
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Date published: 1/17/2013


The concept was a simple one: My wife and I would be taking a Sunday road trip to review Miss Minerva's, a highly rated tearoom in Culpeper. And it would have been an easy story to tell, except for one thing: We'd invited along my mother-in-law (or "MIL" as she likes to be called) who, let me just say up front, is a very lovely person. How was I supposed to know she'd turn it into a story about herself--and coffee?!

A tearoom seemed the perfect place to take my MIL, an Anglophile who'd be right at home in a Jane Austen novel. Besides, my wife enjoys sipping tea and gossiping with her girlfriends at tearooms, before bringing home bags of loose tea that all smell exactly the same.

What can I say? Tea has never been my cup of tea. Noel Coward once said it would be dreadful to live in a country that didn't serve tea. Well, I wouldn't last a minute anywhere that didn't feature Starbucks. Yet here we were, heading to a venue sure to make me feel like a bull in a china shop. I mean, isn't going to a tearoom, with its highly formalized etiquette--including no tea-slurping, spoon-clinking, cup-swirling or scone-dunking--like choosing to visit a spinster aunt with whom you've got to be on your best behavior?

And we were going with my MIL, a woman I'd always been a bit nervous around. I sometimes feel like there's little room for me in her world, populated as it is with dried flowers, Yankee Candles and mini Christmas villages. In fact, spending time at my MIL's house isn't a whole lot different, I found out, than visiting a tearoom.

Once we were on the road, MIL got busy multitasking, engaging in all three of her favorite activities--shopping, playing with her smartphone and acting on the counsel of her TV advisers.

In no time at all, she'd phoned all the GNC stores in the area in order to track down what was proving to be the elusive green coffee-bean extract Dr. Oz recommended as a surefire weight-loss supplement. Upon learning the Culpeper store stocked it, she informed the clerk she'd be there directly, after taking her tea.

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What: Miss Minerva's Tea Room & Gifts

Address: 167 E. Davis St., Culpeper

Info: 540/829-9700 for reservations; missminervas .com Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday


Full tea: $20

Lite tea: $14

Tween tea: $13

Wee tea: $11

The Scoop: Good service, good food, on-street parking, kid-friendly and even guy-friendly! Payment: Major credit cards accepted.