If you’re ever in Knoxville, Tenn., make a visit to the Chintzy Rose Antiques and Tea Room.
It looks quaint and quiet from the outside; chances are you may even miss it as you drive by on Maynardville Pike. But the Chintzy Rose is filled with vintage Southern charm and the best sweet tea in the South.
Last month, I was traveling to my parents’ house in North Carolina for the Easter holidays.
My usual route through Atlanta was screwed, thanks to I-85 and other recent traffic nightmares, so I considered my alternate route up 75 North and 40 East through Knoxville and Asheville. Taking a different route gave me a chance to visit part of a city I don’t get to see very often, so I took a little extra time for exploring.
When I heard rumors of Chintzy Rose’s sweet tea and antique collection, I knew exactly where I was going with my extra time. Plus, it’s an easy, 15-minute-or-less detour off I-75, the perfect break after driving for a few hours.
When I was growing up, sweet tea was never a staple in my family.
We drank our tea, of course, but it was never Southern sweet, except for special occasions. Because of this, I cherish every sip of true Southern sweet tea I can get my hands on like I’ll never drink it again.
That’s exactly what happened when I took my first sip of the Chintzy Rose sweet tea.
The Chintzy Rose antique store opened in 1999 and quickly became a Knoxville favorite. It was one of the first antique shops of its kind in the area; its “elegant junk” collection drew antique and vintage enthusiasts from all over town, and soon beyond.
Its floor is filled with treasures of all styles, ranging from shabby chic to French country and farm style. I almost came out with a teacup set with lighthouse designs, but my coffee/bar cart at my apartment can hardly hold anything else.
What really sets the Chintzy Rose apart from other shops like it is definitely the tea room and kitchen. Owner Bobbie and her daughter Kelly serve patrons and visitors lunch and a tall glass of sweet tea six days a week, from 11:30am to 2:30pm. The menu changes frequently and usually features soup, sandwiches, cold salads, quiches and desserts.
I wasn’t able to stay for lunch the day I stopped in, but perhaps on my next road trip, I can swing by for a bite to eat. I bet Kelly’s pineapple upside down cake and fudge brownies are delightful.
Kelly poured me a glass of her legendary sweet tea, and y’all, to quote a dear friend of mine, I felt like I had died, been resurrected and died again.
This isn’t just any sweet tea.
Chintzy Rose tea is an orange spice tea, created from a combination of teas from an old supplier. I’m generally not huge on orange spice teas, but this was the perfect balance of sweet, citrusy and spiced. An orange slice on the rim was the perfect garnish. If I didn’t have to be on the road for another five hours, I could’ve drank three more glasses of it.
Fun fact: Chintzy Rose was featured in Garden & Gun magazine in 2008. Y’all can check out that story here.
Kelly kindly refilled my cup for the road, so I could sip on that sweet nectar of goodness for a bit longer. I’ll be traveling again in a few weeks, and I think I already know where I’m going to stop for lunch on one of my driving days.
Next time you’re in the Knoxville area, be sure to swing by the Chintzy Rose Antiques and Tea Room. Its sweet Southern charm and tea are nothing to be missed.
What’s your favorite hidden gem you’ve found on road trips?
Editor’s note: it’s beacuse of Allison Glock’s story which was published in The Garden & Gun Southerner’s Handbook that we asked Kate to visit the Chintzy Rose on her roadtrip through Knoxville. Now back to the story.