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Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The Gypsy Tea Kettle. Polly's Cheerio Tea Room. The Mad Hatter. The Blue Lantern Inn. These are just a few of the many tea rooms - most owned and operated by women -- that popped up across America at the turn of the last century, and exploded into a full-blown craze by the 1920s. Colorful, cozy, festive, and inviting, these new-fangled eateries offered women a way to celeb ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published December 13th 2002 by St. Martin's Press (first published December 1st 2002)
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 ·  55 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
It's very anecdotal which gets a little old in the second half (mainly I was disappointed that it didn't mention MINE - The window Garden in Cincinnati). It offers many insights into womens' lives in the early 20th century. We take so much for granted: women today can easily walk into a restaurant unescorted but it used to be unthinkable. Also I had no idea that tea rooms in Greenwich Village were quite the bohemian thing to the point that they became tourist attractions.
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I originally bought this because I thought it seemed quaint but it's actually a really meaty history of tea rooms, which I didn't realize helped spawn the craze for "chicken and waffles" in the 1920s. It was one of the first business ventures for a lot of liberated women after World War I. Really well-written and well-researched book with interesting historical photographs of tea rooms. I didn't know that Greenwich Village's bohemian background featured a lot of tea rooms. Recommended.
This was an interesting book, but I found it to be quite dry. Whitaker went into great detail in describing the tea rooms, their menus and their names (sometimes a little too much detail for me). I was also interested in the social aspects and changes that brought about the "tea room craze," and I just felt that I didn't get as much of that as I wanted.

Overall, it was interesting and there is some good information (bonus bibliography in the back!), so I'd recommend this if you're curious about
Dec 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't quite what I expected in a few ways, but Whitaker's obviously meticulous research does shine throughout. While the title makes the book out to be a history of tea rooms in America, the focus was clearly on tea rooms in urban areas, with a short foray into roadside tea rooms. Whitaker does a good job of showing how tea rooms, a predominately women-owned business which catered to female clientele, influenced the male-dominated restaurant business and reflected the changing role of ...more
Feb 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Well-researched, well-written, and easy to read social history of tea rooms in America. The author correlates the rise in popularity of tea rooms with the improvements in women's rights and opportunities during the first half of the twentieth century.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really fascinating look at the culture of tea from the tea room perspective that goes beyond the stereotypical assumptions of what a tea room embodied and how they impacted the hospitality, menus and restaurant businesses.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
May 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: tea
Fascinating history of American tea rooms, but unfortunately bogged down by a dull listing of every tea room that is an example of each point the author makes.
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
My husband got this book some years back since he was researching tea. Since I enjoy drinking tea and visiting tea rooms plus love reading about history, I thought I would give this book a try. The book is attractive, with a lovely cover and inside are many illustrations and photos. The book is also well researched, lots of information. Although the book is only 180 pages, it took much longer to read than I thought. I am glad I read the book and it was interesting and informative, but the book b ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable read about the history of the tea room in America. I picked up this book at the library because I enjoy drinking tea and going to teas. I learned a lot about tea rooms and how the tea room paralleled events in American history, such as Prohibition. Background on the event was given and how the tea room evolved in terms of the event. Many tea rooms came to be as roadside restaurants when car travel became popular. It was a place where people could get a meal while traveling. ...more
Donna Jo Atwood
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
A little history of US tea rooms in the first half of the 20th Century. There is brief mention of the one I was familiar with--Younkers Tea Room in Des Moines, IA. I have fond memories of riding the train to DM and attending one of the Saturday noon fashion shows there. Don't remember actually drinking any tea there.
Very interesting and approachable look at the "tea room craze" in America in the 1920s and how it's continued to affect expectations whenever Americans visit a restaurant. If nothing else, I now am really hungry for a decent afternoon tea meal.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
With a title like this, how could I not love it? Then, add a fabulous cover... and you still have a dud of a book. Well, maybe if I really, really loved tea.
Dec 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
Christmas gift. Would have found much more interesting in a condensed version.
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Stuart Miller
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Oct 28, 2012
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May 28, 2013
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Gordon Harris
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Nov 26, 2014
Alison Minors
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Apr 22, 2019
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In a sense I backed into writing books via a postcard collection. After years of collecting postcards of restaurants and tea rooms, I wanted to learn more about them and began sending around a proposal for a book on tea rooms. I love doing research and visiting libraries and archives. When I published Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America in 2002 it had not ...more

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