“Time stops here.” It only takes a few seconds inside The Copper Kettle Tea Bar to see why its unofficial motto stuck. A wave of low jazz music echoing from the back of the sitting room carries the scent of brewing tea through the nearly 100-year-old building. Conversation and laughter fill in the gaps between muted trumpet blasts, breaking only for quick slurps of freshly poured tea. While time may not completely stop, it’s hard not to wish it would.
Since sisters Robin Peters, left, and Sue Adams, right, opened The Copper Kettle Tea Bar in October, it has become a popular addition to Foley’s downtown historic district.
“People were so ready to have a place that they could call their own, ” Peters says. “We wouldn’t be able to keep it running if they didn’t really support it.” The laid-back, single-room setup allows customers to freely interact with one another. “It’s a nice gathering point.”
The sisters’ journey into the tea trade traces back to a chance visit to Foley with their mother. While on vacation, the family stopped for lunch at The Tea Room, in Orange Blossom Square. “It was really hopping, ” Peters says. “When I moved down in 2003, I couldn’t wait to take my kids in there, but it was closed.” In 2004, the sisters reopened The Tea Room while keeping their eyes open for their own location. When a historic building beside Foley’s Heritage Park came up for sale, they knew it was perfect. “It’s a great thing to be able to take all that history and keep it going in a new way, ” Peters says.
That “new way” often involves a quick lesson in tea. “It’s amazing how many people are into their own tea blending, ” Peters says. The sisters take particular pride in their any-way-you-want-it approach to the beverage.
“We are happy to make whatever a customer wants to try, ” Adams says. “All of our tea is loose, and we brew one cup at a time, so any combination is possible. If someone finds something they want to try, and we don’t have it, we’re happy to order it for them.” Some of the experimentation has resulted in two of The Copper Kettle’s best sellers: Midsummer’s Night Dream, a combination of black and green tea with fruity tones, and Southern Porch, a mix of chamomile tea, vanilla bean and mint.
Aside from tea, The Copper Kettle has a quickly growing lunch crowd, eager to see what Adams will scribble upon the chalkboard menu each day. “Honestly, ” Adams says, “I don’t really know what I’m going to cook until I get in the kitchen. I lean toward organic and healthy options, though.” It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world discovers this quaint little tea shop where one sip (or bite) halts the hands of time.
The Copper Kettle Tea Bar • 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tu – Th, Sa; 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. F
(live music starts at 6:30 p.m.) 106 N Chicago St., Foley. 269-2544.
text by Shawn Leonard • photos by Matt Gates