Nestled in the small downtown area of Beaverton, Oregon, cloaked between a Thai restaurant and a saloon, lies a treasure, the ClockWork Rose Tea Emporium. Owned by former soap entrepreneurs, it is charming and quaint but also edgy and fun with steampunk décor. Open for less than two years, the ClockWork Rose Tea Emporium has become a popular spot for high tea throughout the year and especially at Christmas for their Dicken’s Tea.
We stumbled upon the ClockWork Rose last year while looking for tea rooms in our local neighborhood. This year we made reservations for their Dicken’s Tea to discover for ourselves what makes this tea room so special and garner rave reviews.
The ingenious idea, flare, and amazing food are all due to the creativity of Maggie and Harold Nolder. During our tea time we had the pleasure of hearing a bit of the owners’ story through Maggie.
The Nolders originally owned a soap making business with a large customer base. They also had, and still have, a love for travel, adventure and food. It was on a trip to Europe where they discovered their love for tea. They asked a local for some coffee one morning and the server came back with a very old tin of American instant coffee; the label was all crumbled and peeling. They told the Nolders that there was a coffee machine in the back, and they were welcome to use it, but the server wasn’t sure how to work it. It was at that moment that Maggie said they decided to have the tea instead. They have been hooked on tea since. The idea of opening a tea room was in the back of their minds for quite a while but didn’t come to fruition right away.
During their travels, while others in their group are looking for trinkets, the Nolders hunt down local tea rooms and shops. They have also collected china, and tea cup sets, over the years. Much of the china is either used in their tea room or on display in the décor.
Stepping into the tea emporium starts in the retail shop where they sell a variety of sweets and an eclectic assortment of jewelry, accessories, food products, and novelty items. One will find a little bit of Victorian mixed with steampunk throughout the store, such as Cameo necklaces next to Dr. Who TARDIS pendants.
Past the shop is the tea room where the Nolders have put much time and care into remodeling what Maggie said was a drab, beige room when they first got the keys. The room is now a beautiful grey with a charming gas fireplace in the back.
Throughout the tea room are handmade decorations and up-scaled furniture pieces by Harold that give an incredible charm to the atmosphere.
His creative and artistic skills are even prevalent in the beautiful, tiered serving dishes. They wanted their guests to feel like they were in a cozy parlor in a home.
High Tea (or Dicken’s Tea at Christmas)
High Tea requires a reservation, and it is a good idea to make one due to the popularity of the place.
When your table is ready, a server will guide you to your table. Once you are seated, the tea begins with another server (or Harold) coming to your table to describe, in detail, the teas they have available that day. After you select your tea, they will go prepare it and serve it to you in a full-sized tea pot. If you really like the tea, many of their teas are also available in their store, so you can purchase a tin on your way out. They also serve hot chocolate and apple cider for the non-tea drinkers. (FYI: The teas are exceptionally good, so we highly recommend giving one a try!)
Our first course was soup. The soup is served in a tea cup with saucer and makes for a pretty display. All soups are made in house. While you eat your soup, or just prior, the server will take the tiered plate away so it can be filled with all the delicious items listed on that day’s menu.
Upon completing your soup (first course) the tiered plate is brought back to your table. The server, or Maggie, will then describe to you each item on the plate.
The bottom tier is typically savory and the middle tier holds the bread-like items (scones, jams, and clotted cream).
The top tier has the scrumptious desserts to round out the tea experience.
If you can’t remember everything they describe to you the menu for the day is on the table for your viewing.
The amount of food on each tier looks dainty, but it is really quite a lot when you starting eating. We ended up taking home some of both the middle and top tiers. Since they take care in what they prepare, and nearly all of it is made by hand there, the food is quite filling (no fluff!). They even give you to-go cups for the tea that might be left in your tea pot.
After tea, perusing through the retail shop is fun. You never know what treasure you might find that will put a smile on your face or that of a friend or family member.
Everyone who served us was very polite, helpful, and friendly. Maggie has a wonderful story to tell about how the tea room began, and she is a delight. Her husband is also warm and friendly. I imagine he’d be more than happy to tell you about the items he created, designed, and re-purposed that make the tea room so delightful and eclectic. The tea is very well done, and the food is outstanding. Maggie’s love, and talent, for cooking comes through in every dish served. Whether you go for the year-round High Tea, or Dicken’s Tea at Christmas, it is all well worth the price.
To find out more about the ClockWork Rose Tea Emporium, or to make reservations, you can find them here.
Address: 12412 SW Broadway Street, Beaverton, OR 97005
Parking: Much of the parking is 60 minute (1-hour) parking, and the high tea takes about an hour and 30 minutes. So, park in the Holland Plaza parking lot (next to Ringo’s Bar) east of the tea room. The tea room has worked out an agreement with them to use their parking lot.
Note – The Dicken’s Tea reservation spots fill up quickly. They take emails for reservation spots throughout the year and often have a waiting list by November. We put our request in during July 2017 for the 2017 Christmas Dicken’s Tea. For 2018 we put our email request in the same day we had our Dicken’s Tea.