HIGH TEA IN WEST TOKYO
Rose TownCuisine: British
En route to the western mountains of Tokyo, most people use their Ōme Line commute to catch some z’s or mentally prepare for the vigorous jaunt up a hiking trail. However, the coherent passengers may look out beyond the train tracks toward the Okutama River and notice a rather misplaced-looking building nestled in the woods, precariously hanging on the side of a cliff. This white Victorian-style structure, once the wedding chapel St. Floria, is now home to the picturesque Rose Town Tea Garden, an oasis far from reality and perfectly in touch with its natural surroundings.
Owned and operated by Stephen and Edie Rose Town—explaining the tea garden’s name—Rose Town opened its ornate doors in June 2012. Before that time, the couple originally lived down the road from the former wedding chapel, passing it every day and marveling at its beauty. When the chapel went bankrupt, they quickly took action, seeing its potential in providing a service unique to the area. Drawing inspiration from Edie’s English background and her family’s tradition of tea time, the chapel was thus converted, still retaining some of its original characteristics.
The interior is stunning: marble floors, chandeliers, white columns, and even grand pianos tucked here and there. Tables are covered with lacy maroon and pink tablecloths. Out on the terrace, four tables and accompanying white tea chairs sit overlooking the cliff. Spring is a lovely time to visit, as the terrace is open and invites the breeze in; only the sounds of other patrons and the river below accompany your tea. If the weather turns sour, the patio doubles as a solarium, still retaining the view.
There are about 20 teas to choose from, some of which rotate with the seasons. Customers make their selection at the entrance, where rows of tiny tea jars—representing what’s presently on the menu—await. Four tea sets plus one child’s set are available, each decadent and well-crafted. The popular Princess Heather set (¥2,800) offers soup, salad, sandwiches, dessert, scones, and a pot of tea. Another option is the Maid Evelyn set (¥1,500), which features quiche. The former offers sandwiches delightfully prepared with fresh herbs, as well as soft scones harboring chocolate chips.
Events take place periodically. The event scheduled for May 28, is a soprano, contrabass, and piano concert featuring Yuka Fujinami (¥4,000). In addition, Rose Town showcases a small Christian boutique inside, selling books, cards, and jewelry.
While there are plenty of places to enjoy afternoon tea in Tokyo proper, few offer such scenic beauty. And although Rose Town is a bit of a commitment, journey-wise, it can easily accompany a trip to the nearby Ome Kimono museum or one of the many mountain onsen (hot springs) dotting the area.