Two-time James Beard Award nominee Asha Gomez has shifted her focus from cooking to entertaining. The founder of now-defunct Cardamom Hill—known for its Kerala-style fried chicken—moved to Conyers and opened Tulip & Tea (1805 Parker Road Southeast), a retail, education, and high tea space. There, she sells floral arrangements on a weekly subscription basis, offers cooking and floral design classes, and serves an elaborate high tea on Fridays and Saturdays.
“I’ve always loved flowers. My mother was an incredible entertainer. There was never a day without fresh flowers in our home,” Gomez says. “I always seek out high tea experiences no matter where I travel in the world—be it Ireland, Rome, London.”
The author of two cookbooks, Gomez shuttered Cardamom Hill in 2014 for financial reasons and sold her event location, the Third Space, to focus on her health. (She sustained nerve damage in her right arm and is unable to cook as much as she used to.) “I wanted to create a space that I could sit softly and do the things I love [like] flowers and tea,” she explains. “It evolved into opening this space. I’ve homed in on things that make a table beautiful and enhance the dining experience.”
She’s partnered with Zline to sell whole kitchens (cookware, knives, oven, ranges) from Tulip & Tea. Her shop also showcases candle stems, coffee mugs, wine glasses, and more. She also has a custom line of loose-leaf teas called House of Goretti coming out next month. To create the teas, she worked with Greenville, South Carolina-based Methodical Coffee. There’s a “very masculine” Earl Grey named for her dad, a jasmine made from Chinese green tea, and a chai blend that required 50 iterations to perfect.
“In India, everyone stops in the afternoon to drink chai and have snacks. There were chai shops everywhere you turn. Coming up with a tea line felt natural to me,” Gomez says. “Tea has been a ritualistic experience that has centered me. It adds a lot of beauty to my day.”
Her high tea at Tulip & Tea costs $75 per person, plus tax and tip. It requires a reservation and includes a 90-minute experience with a menu that changes frequently. Unless it’s a private event, Gomez prefers to limit each high tea service to four to six people. “There are no tiered cake stands—that’s a very European approach—and tea is universal,” she says. At the start of the tea, guests can enjoy a madeleine with spiced cream while the staff talks through the tea options. Other bites may include tea spiced carrot cake, potato cake, cucumber sandwich with butter, samosas, and an Indian cashew cookie.
To maintain multiple sources of revenue, Tulip & Tea will feature a full-fledged floral and plant shop starting in the spring. Gomez will soon be leading a floral design basics class and a wreath-making class on the premises, but she says her goal is to bring “the rock stars of floral” to the space to teach. (Gomez studied floral arrangements at a farm in New York and in the United Kingdom.) She’s also teaching demo-style cooking classes that include a meal. “I had to create an environment that made sense for my financial well-being and my inner well-being,” she says.