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This divine list of English tea rooms/restaurants/cafés each offer their own unique twist to the British afternoon tea. When we think of tea rooms in England, we think of high-quality, piping hot tea in tiny, delicate bone china teacups, and the country does not disappoint. England has a reputation for its love of tea, and nestled in several English towns and villages are some hidden gems renowned for their homemade treats and traditional service. Let’s take a look at some of our favourites and enjoy a nice cuppa.
Why the obsession with tea? Well then, you must not have had a proper cup of tea! In the morning it wakes up the soul, in the afternoon it refreshes you to continue. Having a hard time with a situation? It can all be solved with a cup of tea. Such a soothing and embracing liquid hug. Personally, I like my tea with milk and 1 1/2 spoonfuls of sugar/sweetener.
Champers – Champagne.
Cuppa – Cup of tea.
Clotted Cream – a lovely melt-in-your-mouth thick cream. A cross between unslated-butter and heavy whipped cream. Don’t let an eatery fool you with airy sweet whipped cream (it’s not the same)!
Queue – Waiting in line/a line waiting for something.
Afternoon tea includes the lighter delecacies of bite-size cakes, and sandwiches served between 4 to 5 pm to hold you over until the main dinner which is served around 8:00 in the evenin
High tea is a heartier or a heavier meal served with tea, after a long day from work. Usually served between 5 to 7 pm. Now, more referenced as ‘tea’.
The ‘high’ in high tea is referred to as the high table (dining table) or high backed dining chair used, rather than the coffee tables or low tables that were used during afternoon tea.
The Bridge Tea Rooms, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
The mood is set for you in this quaint Victorian tea room through the soft classical music, the staff in Victorian attire, and the luscious treats that await you. A delicious assortment of scones, clotted creams, tartlets, and so much more served with traditional teas and even champers! Don’t let the possibility of ghostly residents keep you from this full embodied experience of an old Victorian tea!
The quaint tea rooms are two-time winners of the best tea rooms in the UK and let you experience a life of luxury from many years ago – walking through the door is like a step back in time! It is definitely worth a visit.
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Bettys Café Tea Rooms, York and Harrogate, Yorkshire
A true culture tie, established in 1919, the original owner, Fritz Bützer was from Switzerland. Bettys (purposely, without the apostrophe) café tea rooms located in both York and Harrogate (along with a few other locations) are traditional tea rooms done on a grand scale that are probably the most well-known with Brits across the country. Read on Bettys website about how Fritz was an orphan and became a confectioner and helped develop the business that it is today.
Another interesting cultural tie is the Spindler Collection, which is located in several of Bettys café tea rooms. Fritz had commissioned marquetry from the Spindler family from Alsace, France. Marquetry is different shades of inlaid wood that create pieces of art. Fritz had an appreciation for this wonderful craftsmanship.
Famous for both their lunches and cream teas, the tea rooms stick to tradition, with traditionally dressed staff offering the best service and original recipes. If you do wish to visit, try to book when you can, and if not, be prepared to queue.
Everything about this lovely tea room is pretty! If you are a lover of pink and flowers and are looking for the ultimate girly afternoon tea, then try out Pretty Things. The bubblegum pink shopfront gives you insight into the décor inside. The minute you walk through the door, you will discover pastel floral tablecloths, pink decorations, and floral wallpaper.
The delectable menu caters to all – brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, cocktails, gin, children’s high tea, and even our furry friends. Pretty Things is famous for its delicious afternoon teas served on traditional stands and check out their adorable goods for sale.
The Dabbling Duck, Shere, Surrey
The award-winning Dabbling Duck is set in a lovely village that was used in the famous Hollywood Christmas film, ‘The Holiday’. Now known more for its restaurant, this place has won national awards for the best tea and coffee house in the country, so it is definitely worth visiting. Choose from a number of different tea varieties in the quaint, countryside-chic cottage and enjoy their tasty home baking.
All food items are freshly made on the premises using high-quality, locally sourced (when possible) ingredients and the menu moves seasonally.
Open 7 days a week serving a selection of breakfasts, lunches, and delicious ‘homemade’ cakes and scones. Cake specialties include Ginger & Vanilla, Orange & Almond, and our celebrated classic Victoria sponge! They also serve traditional ‘Afternoon Tea which includes a selection of dainty sandwiches, savoury tarts, scones (clotted cream and jam of course!), and delicate cakes. This needs to be reserved in advance.
Shere is a genuinely quintessential English village in the Surrey Hills, not far from London. Well worth a day trip!
Corfe Castle, Dorset
If you are looking for afternoon tea with a view, then look no further than Corfe Castle – National Trust, where the tea room looks over the majestic ruined castle on the south coast of England. The tea room was a former cottage, from the 1700s, that retains many of its original features. Enjoy a traditional cream tea consisting of tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam while taking in the view.
A very insightful article on the History of Teas can be found on the National Trust website – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/history/the-history-of-tea
Watersmeet Tea-garden, Lynmouth, Devon
Enjoy some tea and cake in Watersmeet House (Tea-garden) – National Trust in the warm summer months, outside in their gorgeous riverside garden. From the early 1800s, the house was used as a fishing and hunting lodge. Nestled in the English countryside, enjoy your treats while listening to the trickling of the nearby East Lyn River and Hoar Oak Water and the tweeting of the birds – a, truly, peaceful location.
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House, Bath, Somerset
Set in one of the oldest houses in the historic city of Bath, Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House is home to the famous Sally Lunn bun. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner are served in this charming setting from the 1600s. Three refreshment rooms, all decorated in a different period of their history. The ground floor is late 1600s coffee house, the 1st floor is from the mid-1700s, and the 2nd floor is from the early 1800s, with a Jane Austen ambience. Enjoy a cup of tea served from blue and white willow pattern teapots.
A wonderful bonus is the museum, which is in the cellar of the house. It shows the original bakery used in the late 1600s by Sally Lunn.
From Sally Lunn’s website – “Actually the word ‘bunn’ is an unhelpful description. There is no truly useful common English word to describe a Sally Lunn Bunn as it is part bun, part bread, part cake… A large and generous but very very light bun; a little like brioche/French festival bread….but traditionally it has been called a bun – or bunn – so, even if it isn’t really a bun or a bunn, let’s call it a bunn!” Fun!
Newens | The Original Maids of Honour, Kew, London
As the Sally Lunn bun is associated with Bath, the Maids of Honour tart is associated with Richmond. This ancient, family-run bakery and tea shop is famous for its Maids of Honour tarts, which they have been serving since the 1860s (not necessarily in the same location). The tarts were a favourite in the Tudor times of Henry VIII and were made from pastry, curd cheese, almonds and lemon. This tea room is a firm favourite for tourists who want to experience traditional English cuisine.
Find Paul Hollywood’s recipe for Maids of Honour in this article from The Sun – https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/9948069/great-british-bake-off-maids-of-honour-recipe-paul-hollywood/
England and all over the UK have wonderful tea rooms that you can experience and enjoy. Where are your favourite places to have tea? What are your favourite types of teas, cakes, or sandwiches?
Thank you to my friend, Lisa Whitton, for the wonderful suggestions! You are a treasure!