WHO we are… WHY we do what we do…
Learn the HEART and meet the Joyful Eccentrics behind it all!
The St. James Tearoom sprang up out of the recognition of a great need in society today: the need to escape the “Tyranny of the Urgent” of our modern day frenetic pace of life; to depart from the “parched landscape of fluorescent lighting and chain-restaurant sameness” (Charlotte Balcomb Lane, article on The St. James Tearoom, 2000); to rest, reflect, gain margin back into life; and to foster relationships in a society that at best creates shallow ones. Above all, we wanted to introduce others to the art of tea.
Meet the characters behind it all. (5 min)
The St. James Tearoom
of Albuquerque, NM
Mary Alice Higbie began thinking how this need to escape the “Tyranny of the Urgent” could be met long before the Tearoom first opened in 1999. She settled upon using the medium of the British tradition of tea she had practiced all her life, a tradition specifically designed to foster reflection and relationships, to slow down and savor life itself. A classically-trained Japanese porcelain artist, china painter, and expert gardener, Mary Alice approached the creation of her tearoom with a trained artist’s eye to hone the art of tea. She instinctively understood that the quality and excellence of the experience would have to be unparalleled in Albuquerque for the tradition of tea to catch on.
The Art of Tea Finds an Audience in Albuquerque
In short order she solicited the aid of her son, Daniel, and after a flurry of activity, the Tearoom was established in December of 1999, as a tiny, 27-seat tea service establishment just north of Old Town Albuquerque with three employees. Within six months, a rating of four stars was awarded to the Tearoom by the chief food editor of the Albuquerque Journal at that time, Charlotte Balcomb Lane (her initial review is included in the Reviews section).
What followed were years of blood, sweat, and tears as business lessons were learned. Growth progressed slowly but surely, and the process itself was refined and refined yet again, constantly evaluated to squeeze every last possible drop of excellence out of the experience.
Three separate expansions later, The St. James Tearoom today is far different than the original, housed in a building custom-designed to maximize the guests’ feeling of being “transported to a different time and place.” The Higbies and the St. James Staff invite you to come away to a restful place and enjoy an exceptional afternoon tea.
The St. James Tearoom in the Media
The St. James Tearoom has been featured in The Great Tearooms of America by Bruce Richardson and CNN’s Five Great American Tearooms, and has been the subject of articles in Tea Magazine, the New Mexico Small Business Development Center Network News, and many others.
The Purpose of The St. James Tearoom
To give guests a full English tea experience, including comfort, elegance, refinement, and civility.
To feed the soul as well as the body.
To provide a place for quiet thought, gentle communication, sweet respite from the hectic everyday world; a place filled with a sense of hospitality and graciousness.
To provide a haven, an unhurried setting for the gathering of one’s strength, the refreshing of one’s spirit.
To attempt to revive a sense of beauty in every aspect of life.
To encourage the idea that beauty and grace can be incorporated into all of life.
To educate in the art of tea and tea etiquette.
To offer training in good manners, to instill a sense of propriety, decency, and graciousness.
To provide a gallery setting for traditional arts.
Meet the Owners!
The Vision & Heart of the Tearoom
Mary Alice Higbie
Mary Alice Higbie opened The St. James Tearoom in December of 1999, after traveling to England to study British teas and to search for vendors. She is certified as a Licensed Tea Consultant by The Protocol School of Washington, in Washington, D.C., and has lectured to large and small groups on The Art and the Etiquette of Tea. She is also a Japanese Porcelain Artist and designed, planted, and maintained an extensive, private, English Cottage Garden that was the subject of numerous paintings by well-known local artists.
Daniel Higbie graduated from Hillsdale College in 1998 with an interdisciplinary bachelor's in Classical Rhetoric & Persuasive Communication. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Syracuse University with a Master of Arts in International Relations and Global Markets. He was an exchange student at Oxford University and was an Investment Analyst and Strategy Consultant before coming to Albuquerque to assist with the launch of The St. James Tearoom. He is married to a beautiful Ukrainian ``princessa`` named Nataliya (also the CFO), and they have two boys.