Autumn pumpkin soup at Mountain Oaks Tea Room (Photo by Mark Gilliland)
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Side patio at Mountain Oaks Tea Room (Photo by Mark Gilliland)

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Address: 9508 Church St., Ooltewah

Phone: 423-238-9333

Hours: Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturday hours vary. depending on private parties; Tea Room is closed Sunday and Monday

Upon Mountain Oaks Tea Room’s front double doors hung two wreaths, woven with yellow flowers, red leaves and pine cones. Two pumpkins were placed on either side of the door, signaling the official start to fall.

“Oh, I’m not done yet!” owner Sonya Guffey said in regards to her autumnal decorations. “I just love fall.”

And much of the Tennessee Valley does, too. Guffey remembered that several weeks ago, despite temperatures that were still in the upper-80s, patrons of the Ooltewah tea room began to order soups and hot teas.

“There was one day I sold 18 pots of hot tea!” Sonya said. “I guess my customers wanted fall to roll in already. And here it is!”

The new season is reflected both in Mountain Oaks’ porch trimmings and a couple of new menu items.

First, it is expanding its soup selection to include more rotating recipes such as chicken gumbo, tomato bisque, loaded potato soup, homemade chicken noodle and a creamy, bisque-like pumpkin soup — each served in an antique glass goblet, perfectly complementing Mountain Oaks’ interior design featuring floral prints and real china.

Pumpkin also finds its way onto the dessert menu, in Mountain Oaks’ new pumpkin butterscotch trifle made with crumbled Bundt cake, butterscotch pudding and fresh cream. In the same manner that the crystal stemware complements the tea room’s ambiance, the trifle’s fall-favorite pumpkin flavor pairs perfectly with potted mums and a refreshing breeze.

The only thing that Sonya loves more than autumn is being outdoors; and Mountain Oak’s large, sunny patio lined with yellow mums is open whenever weather permits.

“There are some days you just want to be outside,” Sonya said.

And this time of year, those days are aplenty.