Windsor business brings a proper British tea room to you

The Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room serves a traditional British afternoon tea — complete with fine china — wherever you are.

Windsor Morning's Jonathan Pinto invites the Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room into his apartment

Ije Stoddart of the Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room explains the concept of afternoon tea. 0:53

The Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room serves a traditional British afternoon tea wherever you are.

"I love tea. I love baking. When back home in London, going for afternoon tea is something I would do all the time," says owner Ije Stoddart.

When she moved to Windsor, the National Bakery School-trained baker noticed a lack of places in the city serving afternoon tea.

"I thought to myself, rather than having an actual shop front, why not have a catering business where I bring the experience of afternoon tea to people ... wherever they are?'"

Complete with tablecloths and fine china

When Stoddart says she brings the experience, she's not exaggerating. Along with food and tea, crisp white tablecloths, fine china and cutlery are all part of the package.

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      "[Afternoon tea] represents an opportunity to sit down, relax and spend maybe two hours with your friends, people you want to spend time with. It's one of the few remaining rituals around food," says Stoddart, explaining that the tradition was started by the Duchess of Bedford in the Victorian era. 

      "It's not something you would have everyday — if you did, your body wouldn't thank you for it. It's a treat, really."

      Stoddart offers a large selection of dainty sandwiches and sweet and savoury baked goods. Clients can mix and match or choose from menus inspired by the various regions of the United Kingdom. Everything is made from scratch and the loose leaf tea is sourced from My Little Tea Shop in Windsor.

      To learn more about the particular foods Ije served Jonathan, click "listen" above.

      Rules of Engagement

      While afternoon tea is designed to be relaxing and fun, Stoddart explains that there are some points of etiquette, including:

      • Start with the savory items and then work your way up the tiers of sweets.
      • Scones are to be pulled apart by hand, not with a knife.
      • If adding sugar to your tea, do not stir the tea vigourously; gently dissolve it

      Contrary to popular belief, Stoddart says there is no need to stick your pinky up when handling a tea cup.

      Serving the prime minister's wife

      Word of Stoddart's afternoon teas is beginning to spread.

      In the year since she started the business, the Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room has held thirty afternoon tea services. Stoddart has even received a number of inquiries from people in Detroit.

      When Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, visited the region in February, Stoddart served her afternoon tea.

      Want to experience a traditional afternoon tea?

      If you're interested in having the Union Jack Pop-Up Tea Room cater your afternoon tea, call (226) 975-1679 or visit her website here. 

      Stoddart is also hosting an afternoon tea on Mother's Day (May 10) at the Willistead Manor Coach House in Windsor.

      About the Author

      Jonathan Pinto

      Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.