The chill of the brisk night air is checked quickly at the door as my husband and I walk into the cozy Wystone’s World Teas in Belmar, the “downtown” district of Lakewood. The aroma of hot tea wafts in the air as we settle at one of the intimate tables.
Wystone’s is an elegant and modern tea haven and mini-restaurant. It has a Starbucks-like vibe, with the smooth jazz station setting the mood and the tea menu behind the counter tempting you to try everything at once.
One of the friendly wait staff, Heather, comes to take our drink order. She draws our attention to a white dish on our table displaying the three teas of the week: Earl Grey, Pomegranate Green and White Strawberry. The teas of the week are always steeping, and like all Wystone’s teas, can be served hot or iced, with free refills.
I choose the fruity and light strawberry and my husband orders the dark and classic Earl Grey. Our teas arrive in stylish glass cups that allow the light to illuminate the piping-hot beverages.
The average cup of tea costs $4.25, but a pay-by-the-pot price is available if everyone at the table can agree on the same selection.
Wystone’s caters to the sophisticated appetite, too – beyond amazing scones. The menu is far more than you would expect from a tea bar, tantalizing the senses with soups, salads, starters, wraps, sandwiches, quiche and dessert.
Prices range from $3 for a cup of soup to $11 for some of the meals. Scones, parfaits, cakes, cheesecakes and brulees range from $1.25 to $7 (with a $19 dessert tray to try them all).
I decide on the Greek Chicken Pita Sandwich ($11), a creation of grilled chicken, olive tapenade, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese and cucumber dressing on perfectly crisped pita. I upgrade my side (a choice of harvest vegetable soup or Kenyan black tea-roasted red potatoes) to a salad, with cucumber yogurt dressing. The dressing gives the entire meal a zing, with a hint of wasabi.
My husband goes for a more American selection with the Grilled Cheese BLT Panini ($10). But even this sandwich has a sophisticated twist, with smoked bacon, romaine leaves, tomato, cheddar cheese, gruyere and Dijon mustard on foccacia bread. Paired with the Genmaicha-infused veggie soup, it’s a perfect choice for the chilly evening.
Both meals come on sparkling white square plates, garnished with dried flower petals and tea leaves. This ties in nicely with Wystone’s slogan: “It’s all about the leaf.”
A glance around the room proves the café’s dedication to tea-excellence. Jars and dishes of the tea selections (more than 150 types of whole and loose leaf) line the wall behind the counter.
A TV loops a (silent) video about the tea-making process and tea-pouring etiquette. The subtitles are in Chinese characters – an Asian creation like most of the best teas – adding a nice ambiance. The dining area, which seats about 60, is decorated in a modern-Oriental style with paintings, tea sets and other tea paraphernalia.
We unwrap our silverware from the black napkins that are reminiscent of a high-class restaurant. The intimate setting is perfect for cozy conversation, and our dinner mates are few, making the room fairly serene.
Heather tells us that breakfast and lunch are the busiest times. Dinnertime is usually quiet, making this is a wonderful dinner-date destination. The classy environment also makes for a great place to meet the girls or a business partner for a spot of tea and talk time.
For bigger parties (private or not), Wystone’s offers Tea Tray selections that include a pot of loose leaf tea and several dessert and appetizer options. These can range from $9 for the Light Cream Tea Tray (with scones, Devonshire cream, fruit and berry coulis) to $50 for the formal High Tea Tray, a three-tiered smorgasbord of goodies (with cheese, salmon rolls and lemongrass-tea poached shrimp) and fancy White Star Sparkling White Jasmine Tea.
Wystone’s website offers a wealth of information exploring the health benefits of tea, as well as tea history. While one visit to Wystone’s may not make me a connoisseur, it certainly has educated me on why tea is just so darn good.
If You Go
Wystone’s World Teas
Located in Belmar shopping district
7323 W. Alaska Dr.
Lakewood, Colorado 80226