A Restoration of Grandeur: High Tea at the Schuster Mansion
Created by StaffWriter on 3/24/2015 9:59:19 PM

A Restoration of Grandeur: High Tea at the Schuster Mansion


I think what draws a lot of people to steampunk is the idea of reclaiming elegance. It’s not just in how we dress; it’s bringing back that sense of culture and refinement that somehow got lost over the last hundred years.

One aspect of this culture that is making a comeback is the high tea. No, not brewing a pot and munching a few crumpets with friends, served at the coffee table in the living room (often known as “low tea”). I’m talking about a light meal, with a spread of cold cuts and sandwiches and dainty pastries (and, yes, several pots of tea), served in the dining room anywhere from mid-afternoon to early evening.

The tradition of high tea and its role in Victorian life is just one of the various topics discussed at the Schuster Mansion’s Victorian High Tea. The Schuster, named for the Mukwonago tobacco tycoon who built it, is now a bed and breakfast that still graces the corner in Milwaukee where it has stood since 1891.

As guests arrived for a private tea organized by the Milwaukee Steampunk Society on March 14, 2015, we were treated to our first taste of Victorian splendor: a glowing red brick lady with turrets, dark sloping gables, and an arched porch. The inside was no less grand, full of wood molding, fancy wallpaper, old photographs, hardwood floors, knickknacks and curiosities, books, fine china. Rick and Laura Sue Mosier, the owners and proprietors, have done a marvelous job restoring the mansion since they bought it in 2007.

When we had all arrived, Laura Sue invited us to select a teacup and saucer from her collection on our way into the grand dining room. Once we settled into our seats, she explained some traditional rules of etiquette and outlined how the meal would proceed. She also encouraged us to try each of the seven teas that had been prepared for the evening and were arranged on the sideboard.

We chatted amongst ourselves as we sipped the Harney & Sons loose leaf teas and nibbled our way from the cucumber sandwiches, ham and radishes, and adorably delectable tuna kitties to the rosemary cheddar scones, and finished with the hazelnut cream puffs, pistachio tortes, and raspberry pavlovas—all homemade by Laura Sue, who changes the menu every season to provide some variety.

After the meal, Laura Sue treated us to a history of George J. Schuster (the aforementioned tobacco tycoon), and then guided us on a tour of the first floor, during which she described the work that she and Rick had done to restore the mansion to its former glory.

To experience this restoration of grandeur for yourself and add some elegance to your life, visit the Schuster’s website. There you can contact the Mosiers about staying at the B&B, taking a tour, or reserving a spot at one of their weekly high teas or other events.

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