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High tea served in the heart of Sandy

On Dec. 14, Chariteas was bustling with customers who came to enjoy the annual Holiday High Tea. The event was reservation only, but Chariteas staff was able to accommodate walk-ins on that day, despite the fact that many customers stayed well past their allotted one- to two-hour mealtimes. by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Some of the tea offered at Chariteas is imported by owner Charity Chalmers herself, who often visits tea plantations throughout Asia.

Chariteas staff members were overwhelmed but ecstatic by the great turnout.

Chariteas — a teashop in downtown Sandy that also serves food and sells tea-related gifts, on the corner of Scales Street and Proctor Boulevard — often goes unnoticed.

Owner Charity Chalmers said she gets customers who have never noticed the shop before.

“People will say, ‘Oh, you’re new,’ “ she said. “And we answer, ‘No, we’ve been here for four years.’ “

But to other businesses in the area, Chariteas is an inspiration. In October 2013, Chariteas received the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce’s first Silver Star Award. The award states that it was presented for “community involvement, business growth, and working to create a healthy economic climate in Sandy.”

Chalmers believes it was presented because of Chariteas’ school lunch program. In October 2012, Chariteas entered into a contract to provide lunches for the children at Lewis and Clark Montessori Public Charter School in Damascus. This year, they expanded the program to include breakfast and snacks as well. Every morning, the employees at Chariteas work to put together a specialized menu for the children at Lewis and Clark, completely different from their everyday menu. By 10 a.m. the food is delivered to the school, ready to be eaten.

School lunches have a new theme every day. Apparently, Mexican day is a favorite of students. “Probably because of the guacamole,” said Chariteas Manager Annie Johnston. “It’s definitely my favorite.”

Unfortunately, Greek day is not as popular.

Eventually, Chalmers would like to expand the school lunch program, but she doesn’t have any particular campuses in mind.

Chariteas is not only loved by its underage proprietors, it has a loyal customer base in Sandy. Most of its advertising is by word of mouth.

Johnston said one of their regulars always brings Dove chocolates to the staff, and it is much appreciated. “If that’s going in the story, be sure to say thank you!” Chalmers said with a laugh.

In 2014, Chariteas may add some new items to the menu, but its main goal is to keep the same consistent quality that it always has. “It’s a little mini-escape,” Johnston said.

In addition to Holiday High Tea, the staff of Chariteas also runs Valentine’s and Mother’s Day events. Each event serves a specialized menu created by Chalmers, and sometimes it comes with gifted souvenirs as well. Johnston said it’s an opportunity for those customers to feel special and blessed.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Chariteas offers high tea every day to customers. It offers a scone with whipped cream, assorted tea sandwiches, a homemade dessert, such as lemon tarts, and tea for one.

It is for this reason that Chariteas hosts an entire weekend for Mother’s Day High Tea. “Moms are important,” Johnston said.

For those who can’t wait, Chariteas offers an everyday high tea option to its customers, complete with scones and tea sandwiches.

To Chalmers, tea is a passion. Some of the tea featured in the more than 60 tea options on the menu is imported by Chalmers herself, who personally visits tea plantations in China and Indonesia.

Chariteas also offers tea tastings to its customers and staff as well, so the employees can have a grasp on what a tea shop is all about.

“The art of it, it’s a beautiful thing,” Johnston said.