Casa de ceai Restaurant, Queen Marie’s refuge
Bran Compound was offered by Brasov citizens to Queen Marie in 1920, as a sign of gratitude for her contribution to the Great Union. Until her death, in 1938, Bran was very close to her heart, together with Balchik, which is why she left it in will to Princess Ileana, Romania’s beloved princess and the Queen’s favorite daughter.
Queen Marie enthusiastically started the renovation and redecoration works and she soon turned Bran Castle from a cold and unwelcoming military fortress into a warm residence, unique through its interior decor. The small barn at the bottom of the castle was transformed, with the help of the famous Czech architect Karel Liman, into a tea house. Between 1923 and 1929, the most beloved queen of all Romanians integrates her English soul with the surrounding area, by planting greenery and flowers, dahlias, lilies and roses and by arranging a beautiful lake, that was populated by water lilies, fish and swans. The works were finished in 1925. The famous German landscape artist Friederich Rebhuhn, also known for modernizing Cismigiu park and for creating the royal gardens at Cotroceni and Peles palaces, has seconded her.
Stolen, plundered and abandoned by the Communist regime, the Tea House comes back to life once with the refurbishment made by Bran Compound Administration Company in 2017, under architect Remus Harsan’s signature and Queen Marie’s grandson, Archduke Dominic Habsburg’s close supervision.
Queen Marie’s and the tea ceremony
By marrying Prince Ferdinand, Queen Marie had to make the transition to a new country and a new family, to unknown nation and language. She was finding her moments of consolation and silence into the tea ceremony.
“I was especially very much in need of tea! Romania had quite run out of tea since there was no more communication with Russia, whence it was formerly imported.” “O! Twining is the best man for tea! So one early morning, Mr. Twining, its main representative, was announced in my presence, and I explained to him that I wanted a tea that tasted neither of smoke, scent, nor hay.” To this Mr. Twining replied: “It is Darjeeling tea Your Majesty wants. May I send you some samples? (…) Between the different audiences I had, my old friend was looking through the open door, impeccably bringing a tray with the prepped and ready tea, so that I managed to find the mixture of which I dreamed, that did not taste neither of smoke, scent, nor hay: it was Darjeeling tea!” (fragment – “Queen Marie of Romania, Late Chapters Of My Life, Rediscovered Memories” – ALLFA Publishing House, 2015)
Queen Marie, with English and Russian blood flowing through her veins, but also with a deep Romanian soul, brought the 5 o’clock ceremony to her adoptive country, a ritual that became more and more popular among the Romanian elite in the early 1900s. She was loving the tea and the quiet moments that this time of the day was offering, thus she educated her children in the same spirit, and Princess Ileana elevated the tea ceremony to an art, including during the difficult time of the war.
In the memory and spirit of the two great ladies, we invite you to enjoy the moments spent at the Casa de ceai Restaurant.