Pam Hayhurst and Donna Masters of Tea World Cafe and Tea Room are spreading the joy of tea.
Tea has started wars, you know,” says Donna Masters, “tea whisperer” at Tea World Cafe and Tea Room. Owned by Pam Hayhurst, Tea World is a delightful space, where a forgotten elegance and storied past is brought into the modern age. But don’t confuse elegance with stuffiness — there is none of that here. But, there is fine china, linen tablecloths and finger foods fit for a queen.
Before Tea World, Hayhurst was the manager at Dusty Rose Antique Mall. This is where she and Masters met. “I would go in and buy teapots from her,” shares Masters. And Masters worked at the Space Center with the Space Shuttle Program. Now, the two are practically conjoined at the hip, “tea soul sisters,” Hayhurst says.
The duo is passionate about tea, as one would expect from two women who own and operate a tea cafe. But they go a step further than most, as their aim is not just to provide a high-quality product and experience, but to educate guests about tea and its rich history.
As we toured the retail section, which boasts about 150 teas, Hayhurst and Masters taught us the fundamentals.
“All true tea comes from the same bush … Tea comes from the Camellia sinensis, and your backyard flowering shrub is Camellia japonica,” says Masters. “Unlike flowers, tea is only made from the leaves. It has a flower, but it isn’t used in the tea.”
So, green tea, black tea, white tea, yellow tea, oolong, etc. are all made from the same bush. But what makes them different?
“When they process tea, the first thing they do is crush it or roll it or press it to break the leaves and allow the juices to come out. And depending on how long that juice is allowed to age or oxidize, determines the type of tea it will be,” continues Masters.
So, lightly oxidized tea is green, and the tea most of us are used to consuming (Lipton, for example) is black tea, which is fully oxidized.
Of course, when you add spices to tea, you get chai, and some teas aren’t really teas at all. Take, for example, Rooibos. This is a red leaf tea made from a bush that is indigenous to South Africa. Hayhurst shares that if you visit South Africa and ask for tea, this is the tea you will be given, unless you specify that you want English tea. “We call this the tofu of teas, as it lends itself well to flavors,” says Hayhurst.
Rooibos is caffeine-free, has no real distinctive flavor and is high in amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Though this tea isn’t a “true tea,” you can still find it at Tea World, and it is a great alternative for those who need to avoid caffeine.
As we moved away from the retail space and into the shop, I was reminded of my great grandmother. There were many cabinets filled with fine china, and while there was a comfort to the dining area, there was also great attention to detail. It was obvious that these women cared about the presentation and elegance often associated with tea.
“We believe beauty is as essential as air and nourishment and sleep,” shares Masters.
The china is used for the traditional, full-service afternoon tea experience, which is done by reservation only. This afternoon tea is the same service as, what we refer to as, “high tea,” though Masters tells me that “high tea” is not the correct terminology.
“High tea is actually supper time,” explains Masters. “That was for the working man. He came home from the factory or the field, and he had a big honking pot of tea, and big pieces of kidney pie and steak and mutton and cheese — it was not a delicate meal at all. The reason it was referred to as ‘high tea’ is because it was served at a high table, dining room style.
“Low tea, or what we now call afternoon tea, was served at a table the height of a coffee table,” continues Masters. “That was the tea served with the delicate little sandwiches and ladies with gloves and hats sipping delicately. But because Americans equate ‘high’ with ‘good,’ and ‘low’ with ‘bad,’ they got it turned upside down. The hotels in London finally capitulated and said, ‘Well, if you’re going to call it high tea, we’ll call it high tea.’ So, we try to thread the needle and call it afternoon tea.”
But whether you enjoy afternoon tea or a simple lunch, you can feel fully cared for during your visit to Tea World.
“Some people will come in here and say, ‘it feels so good in here,’ shares Hayhurst. “My theory is that they come in here and feel the love.”
And speaking of love, Hayhurst and Masters were excited to share Tea World’s very own love story.
Their host Chad has been a longtime customer of Tea World. Near the beginning of his relationship with his then-girlfriend, the couple started visiting Tea World for lunches. As their first anniversary quickly approached, Chad reached out to his mother, as well as Hayhurst and Masters, to help put together something special. He wanted to have an afternoon tea, but at the park where they had had their first date. His mother helped organize the date, and Hayhurst and Masters put together a three-tiered tray of finger sandwiches. Masters, who knew the tea preferences of his girlfriend, also blended tea for the occasion called, which she called “Summer Love.”
Now, a year and a half later, Chad and his girlfriend are engaged.
Hayhurst has done her part to ensure that all guests can feel comforted and relaxed when visiting Tea World. “The whole idea is to get off the merry-go-round and take a break from the fast pace outside.”
Hayhurst and Masters live by a simple saying: Where there is tea, there is love. And as Masters reminds all who visit, “We have a lot of tea here.”
The tea pictured is Tea World’s signature house blend: Honeymoon Lake. Honeymoon Lake is a real place on South Merritt Island. As its namesake implies, Honeymoon Lake was a popular honeymoon destination in the 1920s. It cannot be seen from the lagoon or South Tropical Trail, leaving it secluded and very romantic.
3550 S Washington Ave Suite 3, Titusville, FL 32780
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