04/10/2018 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: High Tea [5 Images] Click any image to expand.
Antique Rose Ville, located in New Iberia, has been owned by Linda Freyou for 25 years. It is the only business aside from the Windsor Court in New Orleans where you can attend a traditional high tea. Before it was home to tea and scones, the home that is Antique Rose Ville was a part of the Shadows on the Teche estate. Freyou fell madly in love with “the little house,” as she calls it. It became her goal for the house not to be moved out of New Iberia. Once she acquired it and moved it to her property, she opened a nursery and relied on her love of gardening to generate enough funds to finish the repairs the house required. Then, she had an idea.
“I decided I was going to open up a little tea room,” Freyou recalls. “I didn’t know anything about tea; I was just following my instincts. Someone came to interview me and I told them I was opening a tearoom, but not to print it yet, because I didn’t know much about tea at that time. Well, they printed it. Shortly after, a tea consultant from Tennessee contacted me and I hired her to teach me everything about tea.”
Since then, Freyou has enjoyed high tea in England and Victoria, Canada and has become Acadiana’s resident tea expert. As she explains, high tea can be served at any time of the day, but it’s typically enjoyed in the afternoons. At Antique Rose Ville, high tea is served on fine china from England. Freyou has a plethora of teas for patrons to choose from, and that’s only where the experience begins. Then scones and curds are served. Curds are a fruit sauce, typically lemon or orange. Freyou makes her own scones, but imports the curds from England, because “they’ve got that down pat.” Next is a course of finger sandwiches – cucumber, chicken and ham and cheese on white and wheat. Finally, guests dine on fresh fruit and a variety of cakes and petit fours.
“It’s a quiet place,” Freyou muses. “That’s the most common word people use to describe Antique Rose Ville– ‘quiet.’ It’s a peaceful experience. I don’t like to hurry anyone. A high tea can last as long as they wish. It’s peaceful and it’s private.”
The peaceful ambiance Freyou mentions, it’s easy to find at Antique Rose Ville. The setting is serene and the energy is delicate and still. It’s as if you’ve been transported to a sophisticated English cottage in a bucolic garden. While it may sound exclusive, the experience is available to anyone. Freyou has hosted high teas for bridal showers, 90th birthday parties, Japanese tourists and everyone in between. Guests can choose how authentic they want the experience to be. Freyou has hats available for $5 or many diners come in their own hats, bringing playful competition among one another.
So much of the way Freyou operates Antique Rose Ville is based on her heritage. Her mother’s family’s code of arms from France proudly states, “Less to do, better to do.” When she has a high tea, or any other events that she hosts on the grounds, she focuses all of her energy on perfecting that one event. Freyou also reflects on her grandmother as inspiration. She remembers having to call before she visited and arriving to the fine china tea set waiting for her. And that’s exactly how Antique Rose Ville feels – like visiting the home of your most aristocratic and elegant grandmother.
“High tea is all about making memories,” Freyou expresses. “When someone has a tea over here, it’s a different dinning experience. It’s a very memorable experience that they’ll be able to look back on. There’s a sense of formality to it. It’s truly an opportunity for us to slow down and make time for one another. I want people to leave here with a sense of peace, a sense of having done something new and unique.”