MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA — Approaching the entry to Sweet Remembrances Tea Room, a visitor can’t help notice the building and the street, which look as though they are from another century. Market Street, where the tearoom stands, is lined with quaint, narrow, two-story brick buildings built in the early 1800s. Their character and appearance have changed little since then.
The name, Sweet Remembrances, is taken from a quote from Shakespeare: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” As a visitor steps through the door of Sweet Remembrances, the experience truly is of taking a step back in time. Period antiques, charming dishes and herbal prints round out the decor. Lace curtains, draped with herbs and swags, frame tall windows, making it easy to imagine you’re meeting friends for afternoon tea after stepping out of your carriage. Now you have nothing to do for the rest of the day but enjoy your tea and gossip about Society.
In 1990, Nancy Reppert opened Sweet Remembrances next door to The Rosemary House herb shop that her mother had opened in 1968, as a place to serve tea and hold lectures for events hosted in The Rosemary House. The business thrived, and soon Nancy was including all her family members in the enterprise.
The Rosemary House shop overflows with herbal goodies and gifts, including its own line of seasonings and herb mixes. A charming, narrow side porch houses plants in season. The back yard is a maze of fascinating little gardens where the family hosts teas, Civil War programs, children’s activities and occasional weddings.
Nancy started her business by offering a place for special luncheons and teas, wedding receptions and other special events. She provided full meals or refreshments. Soon, customers were coming specifically to experience what a relaxed, elegant afternoon tea once was.
Nancy loves to cook and entertain people. She’s so quiet and perpetually organized that you hardly realize you’ve been served: Dainty teapots arrive on the table filled with steaming, perfectly steeped teas, and elegant appetizers, exquisite main courses and bountiful desserts quietly materialize in front of you.
Nancy produces her delightful foods from scratch, whipping up amazingly colorful dishes, which customers greet with murmurs of approval.
Visitors’ choices of breads include Orange Glazed Poppyseed, Apricot Coriander, Lemon Pecan Buttermilk Tea Bread or Strawberry Bread with Cream Cheese Rosebuds. Traditional English scones are served warm from the oven, smelling and tasting as pretty as they look. Tea sandwiches served include Chicken Salad in Cheese Puffs, Pineapple and Pecan, Curry Coconut Rounds and Rolled Asparagus Sandwiches, in season.
Dessert selection may include Raspberry Cheesecake Bars, Chocolate Cheese Cupcakes, Vanilla Rosemary Cookies or Lemon Tartlets. Each is served with a perfectly brewed tea.
But afternoon tea, often accompanied by special programs, is what patrons praise most highly. In October, Amanda McQuade Crawford, an herbal practitioner and member of the American Herbalists Guild, will present a medicinal herb seminar, with special afternoon tea.
In December, Sweet Remembrances will host an elegant tea party and class Nancy calls “Festivi-tea” with scrumptious, festive foods, followed by a class in which participants create a small, charming Christmas ornament to take home.
In January each year, Sweet Remembrances hosts “A Tea for All Seasons,” an elegant, colorful afternoon tea to break up the gray of winter — a very popular event. In addition, the tearoom offers the much-appreciated “Super Scone Saturdays,” where visitors enjoy an assortment of freshly baked scones, jellies, homemade lemon curd, fresh fruit and toast with select teas.
For more information, contact Sweet Remembrances, 118 S. Market St., Mechanicsburg, PA 17055; (717) 697-5785; www.sweetremem brancestearoom.com.
Jim Long is a contributing editor of The Herb Companion and author of several books. Learn more by visiting his website at www.Longcreekherbs.com.