Saturday, June 11, 2016

My Country, 'Tis of Tea — Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's the home of a new editor friend, and it's also the home of Mary Tyler Moore's TV show in which she famously threw her hat up in the air, one of the iconic moments in 1970s TV history. And Minnesota also has some teatime stories I think are worth sharing …

• I continue to research the department stores of yesteryear, and another of the ones I so wish I could have visited was Donaldson's Glass Block Department Store in Minneapolis. Doesn't the name alone make you want to know more? Why "Glass Block"? Turns out, the store was so named because of all the glass used in its design. (Click here to see a photo.) But of course what I really enjoyed learning about was the store's Japanese Tea Room, which is shown here in this postcard mailed in 1908.

• Several years ago, I had a project of cooking a recipe each week from a different vintage tearoom cookbook. This delicious Chicken and Artichoke Salad was from Just Like Grandma's Tearoom is Osakis, Minnesota. Just for fun, I checked this week, and guess what? This tearoom is still open! In a day in which so many tearooms have closed, I'm delighted to find a tearoom with some longevity, so good luck to Grandma and friends!

• Teatime during the Civil War? I love to check the state archives and historical societies for any tea-related tidbits I can find. The Minnesota Historical Society website (screen grab shown above) had this Diary entry by First Lieutenant Myron Shepard of the 1st Minnesota Regiment. The entry for Sunday, February 7th, 1864, reads, "Very warm and pleasant generally. We prepare to get off at 9 am but delay along the road and do not reach Baltimore until tea time. The regt. is marched to Sanitary Commission and get supper.  Then march through town to [Far] Central Depot and go aboard the cars and remain there all balance of eve. The officers go up to Barnums Hotel. Get Supper and stay in Col. Colvil’s room until after midnight.  Everybody feeling pretty good. “Ben” and [Laueb] accompany us to Baltimore and are our principal chaperones." Of course, what I found quite intriguing was that line about not reaching Baltimore "until tea time." Are you as surprised as I am that a lieutenant in the Civil War referred to teatime in his diary? How interesting that the hour for tea seems to have been a marker in the lieutenant's mind!


  1. Love that journal entry! You find the neatest historical tidbits. And I'm glad to know Just Like Grandma's is still in business.

  2. You always find the most interesting information. Now I must check out Grandma's tea room. I love hearing of a tearoom with longevity, yes it is rare in the states. Come by and visit me sometime.

  3. We visited two tea rooms in Minnesota several years back. One in Redwing was perfectly located in an older home and run by two sisters. I'm sure it's no longer there.

  4. The journal is interesting. Nice to see a business is still thriving.

  5. Hello, Angela - love this post on Minnesota! It's a beautiful state (my husband is from there) but, it's definitely a 'Tale of Extreme Temperatures!'

    Twenty four years ago, my first visit was in July, lovely time to visit the land of 10,000 Lakes, simply beautiful! Gorgeous lakes everywhere, moderate temperatures, everyone outside - celebrating summer!

    My next visit was in December (of that same year): we could ice skate on the lake we swam in, just a few short months ago...not only ice skate, but, just as 'seriously' as Minnesotans Celebrate the wonders of summer, they 'make the best of winter' (all the snow and ice, for miles): ice festivals, driving on the ice, fishing on the ice, (in temporary ice fishing villages, complete with fishing huts and sometimes, there's even temporary 'street signs,' and speed limit signs, set up on the frozen lakes, in these ice villages...)

    If I hadn't seen it for myself, this Florida native would not have believed it. Not only are there fishing huts, there are fires built (on the ice), to keep you warm while you spend the night in your fishing hut. It's a different world out there and when I read about 'Just Like Grandma's Tearoom' in Osakis, it made sense: some businesses operate seasonally - opening in May and staying open through the fall.

    I can't wait to visit 'Just Like Grandma's Tearoom,' - I re-visited your link and the recipes sound delicious! Minnesota is so beautiful and the folks there are so friendly: where else can you try out so many 'hot dishes?' Thanks for sharing all your great ideas and recipes - have a Wonderful week! Joanie


Thanks so much for taking time to leave a comment! It makes my day to hear from readers!