Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom

Trying to track down a terrific tea room

For over 300 years the English have been drinking tea in tearooms. The first known tearoom was opened by Thomas Twining in 1706 at 216 Strand, London. In 1864, the Aerated Bread Company opened the first chain of tearooms called the A.B.C. Tea Shops. Thirty years later, J. Lyons and Co. started a chain of their own more upmarket Lyons Corner Houses. Hotels in cities began serving Afternoon Tea, and traditional English tearooms could be found in almost every town and village in England. Country farms, particularly in Devon and Cornwall, created their own little version of a tearoom, offering cream teas (with homemade clotted cream) to passing tourists.

Although A.B.C. Tea Shops and Lyons Corner Houses no longer survive, the English tearoom has and there are thousands of places across this Land of Hope and Glory and Tea where one can enjoy that most charming of English traditions called Afternoon Tea. But with so many tearooms scattered about England, how exactly do you go about finding a good one? I get asked this question all the time, so I thought I would share with you my ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom.

 

1. Word of mouth

 

Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom: Word of mouthA glowing recommendation by a family member, friend, work colleague, or neighbour is the best and easiest way to find a terrific tearoom.  The next time you are at a family gathering, out on the town with your bestie, chatting with the person who sits across from you at work, or having a natter over your garden gate, make, “Been to any good tearooms lately?” one of your first questions.

 

2. Tea Books

 

Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom: Tea booksThere are a number of excellent tearoom guides in print. My top favourite is Fancy A Cuppa; it not only lists great places for tea, but also the stories behind the tearoom owners, and the building. The AA Afternoon Tea books and Teashop Walks series have stood the test of time and are superb resources when looking for a tearoom. Bruce Richardson’s Great  Tearooms of Britain contains some of the country’s most well-known tearooms (and stunning photographs), and Jane Pettigrew’s Tea in the City: London focuses on the best tearooms in the capital.   Margaret Thornby’s Guide to Tea Rooms is another classic and chock full of tearoom listings and reviews.

 

3. Tea Magazines

 

The magazine Tea & Tea Room Talk regularly features tearoom reviews from all around England. I have also discovered the names of tearooms in the Food and Drink section of my local Lifestyle magazine, so find out the name of yours and check it out.

 

4. Tea Blogs

 

Top Ten Tips for Tracking Down a Terrific Tea Room: Tea blogsTea bloggers love to talk about tearooms and a tea blog is an excellent place to learn about places for tea. You will also usually find fantastic photographs and detailed tearoom reviews because, well, that’s just the way we are! Tea bloggers can be very opinionated about their tearoom experience, so these blogs are fun to read. Top English tea blogs (besides Tea in England, of course) are Kate and Chelsie and Teasemaid.

 

5. Tea Directories

 

Obviously, an online tearoom directory should be near the top of your list when you are searching out that perfect place in England for afternoon tea. Here are three of them that every tea lover should have bookmarked: Afternoon Tea, the UK Tea Council, and Tea at Three.

 

6. Tea Websites

 

Many tea company websites display their stocklists, helping their customers find tearooms and tea shops that carry their teas. Teapigs is one of them, as is Tregothnan Tea. Travel websites, such as Trip Advisor, are also a good place to look for a tearoom in the part of England you are interested in.

 

7. Facebook

 

Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom: Social mediaThe Facebook search function makes it easy to do a quick keyword search using the words “tearoom” or “tea room”. Although tearoom owners are very busy people, many of them still find time to update their Facebook pages regularly with menu specials, upcoming events, discount codes, pictures, etc. The Tea Rooms (London) and Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms (York) are two personal Facebook favourites.

 

8. Twitter

 

When I first set up my Twitter account, I searched the keyword “tearoom” and followed a few of them that showed up in the results. I started re-tweeting their tweets and it wasn’t long before new tearooms were following me back and I was discovering ones all across England that I never knew existed. If you are on Twitter, you could do the same – or simply post a “Looking for tearooms in my area” tweet and see what happens.  Here are a few tearooms in England whose Twitter accounts I follow: Peacocks Tearoom (Cambridgeshire),  Scrumptious Tearooms and Poppy’s Tea Room (Essex), and Well Walk Tea Room (Gloucestershire).

 

9. Google search

 

Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom: Google searchThere’s nothing quite as efficient as a basic Google search. To look for a tearoom, type “tearooms in (insert name of city, state, county, country, etc here)” or “tea rooms in (insert name of city, state, county, country, etc here)” in the Google search box. Don’t give up if you don’t see the name of a tearoom on the first few pages. Keep scrolling through because their website might be ‘buried’ amongst all the other listings.

 

10. Just ask!

 

Ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom: Just ask!When all else fails, never be afraid to email a tea blogger, tea book author, tea expert, or tea shop owner for the name of their favourite tearoom. Most tea people are happy to “talk tea” and they will consider it a privilege to be of help.

 

 

 

I hope my ten tips to tracking down a terrific tearoom will help you find the tearoom of your dreams. If you have a particular resource that you like to use when on the hunt for a tearoom, please share it with us by leaving a comment below.

 

Note: As “the only constant in life is change”, I strongly advise that before visiting any tearoom, you first ring to confirm that it is still open for business.

 

 

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Lemon Cake recipe from The Tea Rooms in London

Lemon Cake using recipe from from Secrets of the Tea Rooms Those of us who love frequenting tea rooms (you know who you are), just can’t help ourselves from obsessing over their decor, teapots, cups and saucers, and food. And although we wouldn’t dream of ever giving up the pursuit of the perfect tea room, we do enjoy re-creating one or more aspects of our favourite tea room once we’re back home.  Whether it’s sourcing their beautiful china for our own tea table, buying a tin of their popular house blend, or having a go at trying to bake their cakes or scones, we want the tea room experience to go on within our own familiar habitat long after it has ended at the one away from home.

The Tea Rooms, 153-155 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH

The Tea Rooms, London

But when it comes down to baking that cake or those scones, the problem is that some tea rooms want to keep their recipes a secret. Drat. Luckily, some tea rooms don’t mind sharing their recipes and even go so far as to publish them. The Tea Rooms, Stoke Newington Church Street, London is one of those, and I recently had a chance to review their cookbook, Secrets of the Tea Rooms – Recipes for Traditional British Cakes and Savouries.

The Tea Rooms, 153-155 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0UH

The Tea Rooms, London

The Tea Rooms opened in 2007 and are owned and operated by mother and daughter team Anne Wilkinson and Isabelle Allfrey; Isabelle is a professional chef. The tea setting is traditional (LOVE those bentwood chairs), with an emphasis on quality homemade cakes and confectionery. Who wouldn’t like a cookbook filled with quality recipes from a tea room with a professional chef, huh?


Purchase
 

Secrets of the Tea Room contains a variety of great sounding recipes – scones; cakes and pastries; soups; savoury pastries; biscuits and batch bakes; and Christmas cooking –  originating from family members and cookery books and adapted for the tea room. Measurements are given in imperial and metric, so the book is suitable for cooks on both sides of the pond.

Handy tips are sprinkled throughout as are colour photographs, making it an immediate winner as far as I’m concerned. There is also a brief history of tea in Britain – always a good sign.

I am certain that I will eventually try each of the recipes in this book: they are solid, traditional British tea fare. But I did have to narrow it down to just one for the blog post, so I decided on the Lemon Cake. With the days drawing in, I have been in a mood lately to drink more Earl Grey, and Lemon Cake and Earl Grey tea are an excellent pairing.

 

Lemon Cake

For one small loaf cake, made in a tin about 9 in (23cm) long. This loaf cake is made extra tangy with lemon syrup poured over the cake, straight from the oven.

 

Collected ingredients for the Lemon Cake recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms

Ingredients

1 lemon
5 oz (140 g) plain flour
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tblsp dark rum (I did not have any rum or rum extract, so I used vanilla extract)
6 oz (175 g) caster sugar
2 oz (50 g) melted butter
3 oz (75 g) double cream
2 oz (50 g) icing sugar

 

Method

Set the oven to 180°C (350°F) or Gas Mark 4, and prepare a small loaf tin by greasing lightly and lining with baking paper.

Grate the zest of the lemon (the skin without the pith) or use a zester. Add the zest to the eggs, salt and sugar, and whisk together, without overworking. Stir in the cream. sieve the flour and baking powder together and fold into the mixture. Then add the melted butter and rum. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 7 minutes at 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Then lower the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, and bake for a further 33 minutes.

 Warm Lemon Cake just out of the oven, dotted with holes, ready for lemon syrup to be poured over

While the cake is baking, heat the juice of the lemon and the icing sugar together, until dissolved.

Tip: Do not let the lemon syrup boil, otherwise it could taste bitter.

The cake is ready when it is springy to touch and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin. Prick all over with a skewer (I didn’t have a skewer, so improvised using a matchstick) and then pour over the lemon syrup while the cake is still warm. Turn out when cold.

 

Lemon Cake using recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms

The Lemon Cake looked and tasted fantastic. The recipe was easy to follow, and I already had everything on hand. Baked in small, individual loaf tins, the Lemon Cake recipe from Secrets of the Tea Rooms would be perfect for holiday gift-giving to friends, neighbours or work colleagues, together with a festively wrapped copy of the book itself.

Visit The Tea Rooms website for opening hours and more information about their tea room, teas, bespoke cakes, venue hire, and home tea party service. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

 

The Tea Rooms logo

 

 

 

 

155 Stoke Newington Church Street
London N16 0UH
0207-923-1870

 

 

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The Mock Turtle, A Brighton tea shop

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

Tell me, who can resist a tearoom overflowing with blue-and-white china, especially when it’s the Willow pattern? I certainly can’t.

There are conflicting stories behind the history of the ‘Blue Willow’ pattern. The most commonly held belief has the original engraving being done by Thomas Minton in 1790, inspired by the blue and white porcelain that the English were importing from China at that time.

There’s a pleasure eternally new, ‘Tis to gloat on the glaze and the mark, Of china that’s ancient and blue. -Andrew Lang, Ballades in Blue China, 1880

The marketing behind Minton’s Willow pattern was clever: tell everyone that the pictures in the design are based on an ancient Chinese legend about two lovers who are transformed into lovebirds. It’s a nice thought, but no such legend exists. The story is English in origin, and has no links to China.  It doesn’t seem to make any difference, however – ‘Blue Willow’ has been in production for over 200 years now and remains as popular as ever.

Speaking of china (the other kind of china), the picture above is what I call The Great Wall of China and it was taken at The Mock Turtle in Brighton, England on my last visit there.  The Mock Turtle has been a tearoom for decades. According to the authors of Fancy A Cuppa, 80-year old customers of The Mock Turtle tell the new owner that little has changed since they came for tea there more than 50 years ago.

 

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

It’s impossible to pass by The Mock Turtle and not be lured inside by its cosy front window display. It’s a very popular place and unless you get lucky, you will more than likely have to queue for a table. I happen to think it’s worth the wait.

 

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

More beautiful blue and white china, this time on the walls.

 

The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

Food is homemade and has an excellent reputation for being delicious.  They carry a full breakfast and lunch menu (I have had their Welsh Rarebit before, and loved it), and serve Cream Tea, Afternoon Tea, and of course, a wide selection of cakes.

 

Cream Tea at The Mock Turtle Tea Shop, Brighton, England

On this visit to The Mock Turtle, it was the perfect time of day for a Cream Tea . The tea was loose-leaf (their own Mock Turtle blend) and although the leaves were left in the teapot to stew brew (not an unusual practice in England), a small top-up jug of hot water was included. The tea was very good.

The scones looked similar to a bread roll and despite being a departure in texture from the more traditional ‘short’ scone, they were quite tasty. Jam, butter, and clotted cream was served alongside. I have seen some online reviews of the Cream Teas at The Mock Turtle that say whipped cream is used, but it has been my experience there (several times now) to have always been served clotted cream.

Cost of the Cream Tea was £5.75 and included 2 large scones (a choice of whole wheat or white), and a pot of tea.

The Mock Turtle is a 2-minute walk from Brighton Pier.

The Mock Turtle
4 Pool Valley
Brighton
East Sussex BN1 1NJ
01273 327380 ‎

 

See the Tea in England Facebook page for related content, and more pictures of my visit to The Mock Turtle.

 

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Would Carson approve of Downton’s “Upstairs, Downstairs” Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House?

Tea Table, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Downton Abbey mania has swept the world and I for one am not ashamed to count myself a fan. As a tea enthusiast, some of my favourite scenes are those when tea is either served or mentioned – and those scenes are plentiful. I make no apologies for fantasizing about what it would have been like to live the Downton lifestyle. “Tea is served, m’lady.”   Sigh.

Perhaps one of the reasons I love going for Afternoon Tea is because it gives me a sense of ‘another time, another place’.  Whatever the reason, love it I do and on Saturday I had an opportunity to dine like the Crawley’s and the Grantham’s at a Downton Abbey inspired Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House, London.

 

Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London

 

To create a special Downton variation on our award winning Tea was easy for me as I am a huge fan of the series! – Nigel Boschetti, Executive Chef

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea was designed to celebrate the launch of series 3 of Downton Abbey, which takes place during the 1920’s – when Grosvenor House itself first started serving Afternoon Tea.  Nigel Boschetti, Executive Chef at Grosvenor House, created the special menu after researching cuisine from the 1920s. He has done an excellent job of fusing decadent ‘upstairs’ delights that the Crawley’s and Grantham’s might have indulged in, such as Smoked Salmon Pin Wheels, with ‘downstairs’ fare, like Bread Pudding, that would have fueled Carson and his team of servants.

 

Tea Table in Window, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London

 

Upon arrival for our 4 o’clock reservation, we were escorted to The Park Room which is where Afternoon Tea is served at Grosvenor House.  I really, really liked this space – it was wide and open and tables weren’t jammed close together as often is the case in hotel tea venues.  Sunlight was streaming into the room, adding a beautiful golden glow to the already opulent surroundings. A pianist was playing a piano in the corner of the room.

I didn’t take any photographs of the room in order to preserve the privacy of other diners, but afterwards I popped out and snapped the above picture to show you the table where we were seated. Window tables are smaller than most of the other tables in The Park Room; nevertheless, we very much enjoyed looking out over Park Lane and Hyde Park, and never felt awkward even with a fairly steady stream of outside passers by.

 

Table set for Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London           Twinings Tea being poured, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London
 

The tea tables in The Park Room at Grosvenor House are lovely and welcoming. Instead of white table-covers, theirs are a warm shade of what I would call ‘tea green’, and nicely match the green-and-gold edged design on the pretty white china. There was a small flower on the table to add colour. Altogether, the appearance was one of understated elegance.

After reviewing the extensive tea menu, we decided on Lady Grey, and English Breakfast. The tea was Twinings loose-leaf and it was perfectly brewed. As an ardent tea drinker, I can honestly say that this was a superior pot of tea. In fact, when we did our weekly food shop the following day, we made a point of purchasing a box of loose-leaf Twinings – it was that good. As we finished our respective pots of tea – and with precision timing – our waiter returned with hot water for a second infusion, which turned out to be just as tasty.

I will take a moment here to mention the excellent service we received. Our waiter was super-efficient, very friendly, and obviously trained to a high standard. He was able to answer every question I had about the tea and food, and he truly did seem to enjoy what he was doing.

 

Fruit Salad, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Fruit Salad

 

Before the tea food arrived, we were served a mouthwatering fruit salad of mango, pineapple, and melon – a lovely, unexpected surprise. The fruits – diced into little bitty pieces – were in just the right amount of juice. After a long day of traipsing about London, it was the perfect appetizer. Very refreshing!

 

Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea
Grosvenor House, London

 

Tea sandwiches, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Matthew Crawley’s Loch Fyne Smoked Salmon Pin Wheels
Free Range Chicken with Tarragon
Clarence Court Free Range Egg with Watercress
Cucumber with Mint Butter
Honey Roast Ham with English Mustard
Roast Beef with Horseradish
Prawn Mayonnaise

 

The sandwiches, a nice selection of  ‘above stairs’ and ‘below stairs’, were fair.  We felt that the cucumber could have been sliced a bit thicker and that, generally, all the sandwiches could have used more filling.  But overall, they were tasty, and extra sandwiches were provided when we asked. (The bread seemed to taste a bit fresher with the second round.)

 

Baked Bread Buns, Scones, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Mr. Bates’ Baked Bread Buns
Freshly Baked Scones

 

I was looking forward to the Baked Bread Buns, and they did not disappoint.  Although rather un-dainty to split open (I had to use my fingers; too dense to cut with a luncheon knife), once spread with butter and jam, they were quite enjoyable – true comfort food. I could just imagine a scrubbed pine table below stairs bearing a plate of these freshly baked bread buns, a sturdy Brown Betty on stand-by ready to serve up enough tea to wash them all down.

The scones, on the other hand, did disappoint. As soon as I saw them I knew something had gone wrong in the kitchen. They clearly had not risen and just didn’t look right (this from a woman who has baked many a scone in her day). I wanted to at least try to eat the plain scone, but it crumbled everywhere when I gently eased it open. I had better luck with the fruit scone, but the taste was mediocre at best. I realise that these things happen, but scones are at the very heart of an Afternoon Tea; I question the decision behind putting them on the plate to begin with.

 

Butter, Lemon Curd, Jam, Clotted Cream, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Butter, Clotted Cream, Jam, and Mrs. Patmore’s Lemon Curd
Worth noting are the generous portions

 

Pastries, Downton's 'Upstairs, Downstairs' Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House, London

Chocolate Dipped Eclair
Victoria Sponge
Raspberry Tartlet
Vanilla Cream slice
Lady Mary’s Madeleine
Carson’s Bread Pudding
Lemon Chiffon

 

The dessert tier was sheer perfection. Every pastry and cake was fresh and full-flavoured. Mr. Tea pronounced Carson’s Bread Pudding to be exceptionally satisfying, and I found the Lemon Chiffon to be an excellent finale to Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House.

 

Overview

Mr. Tea and I have had Afternoon Tea at a number of London venues. Following today’s tea at Grosvenor House, we discussed whether or not Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea was good value for money (£34.50 each).  We talked about what makes an Afternoon Tea – for us –  GOOD.  We determined that if we were in pleasing, comfortable surroundings; were served good food of a fair portion, and tea that was properly brewed; were waited on by staff who were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable; and at the end of it all, felt full and satisfied, then  – regardless of the cost – we had experienced good value and a satisfying Afternoon Tea.

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House in London ticked all those boxes mentioned above, and earned our approval. With some minor adjustments to the tea sandwiches and scones, we think Carson would approve, as well.

 

Grosvenor House’s very own 1920’s Afternoon Tea price (1920 is the year in which Downton Abbey series 3 is set) of £2.25p for Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea, is available to the first two telephone bookings received (for two people only) on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday until November 11th.

Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea is £34.50 per person at all other times and will be served in The Park Room at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, overlooking Hyde Park, 2pm – 6pm daily from Sunday 16 September until Sunday 11 November. To be in with a chance of securing a 1920’s priced Tea, call reservations from 11am on +44 (0) 207 399 8452 and quote Downton’s ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea.

 

 Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary services for review purposes, which has not influenced this report.

So, this ghost walks into a tearoom . . .

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre Tearoom Table

One of the reasons my husband and I moved back to England was because we missed going places and doing things. Not that there weren’t places to go and things to do in America ….. but we missed those oh-so-quintessentially-English places. Like antiques centres. Housed in 17th century buildings.  With ghosts.  And tearooms.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

One such antiques-centre-in-a-17th-century-building-with-a-ghost-and-a-tearoom is the Bourne Mill Antiques Centre in Farnham, Surrey. It is our favourite spot for antiquing-and-tea. The building is a former mill (a little tributary still runs alongside).

According to the Bourne Mill Antiques Centre website, it was a drinking club in the 1960s, frequented by Mick Jagger!  The club eventually closed down and the antiques centre later took over. Whilst it’s true that in some of these places you can’t always get what you want, wild horses couldn’t drag me away from here because there is something for everyone.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

There are over 60 dealers displaying, and it has been described as an Aladdin’s Cave of Antiques. Indeed! It is a treasure trove. I love places like this, where you can rummage through baskets and dig deep behind lower shelves.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

Oh, the temptation.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

Is it true that you can never have enough teacups?

 

  Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England      Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England    Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

There are 4 floors to this building, with nooks and crannies everywhere.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

More temptation.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

You can walk around the entire building from the outside.  A building that is 400 some years old just can’t help but be enchanting, can it?  Oh look … a sign.  With the word TEA on it! Shall we?

 

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

All the antiques centres we have been to in England have had tearooms on the premises; the one here at Bourne Mill Antiques Centre is our favourite. We like to arrive as soon as the tearoom opens (10.00), have breakfast (scrambled eggs on toast), then shop till we drop. Well, the truth of the matter is that he never lets me we don’t always buy anything, but even so – sigh – one does work up an appetite so after we’ve had a good look around, it’s time for tea and cake.

 

Bourne Mill Antiques Centre, Farnham, England

Did someone say cake?

 

I hope you have enjoyed poking around the Bourne Mill Antiques Centre with me. Later this evening I am going to upload the rest of my pictures on the Tea in England Facebook page and you will have a chance to see all the other rooms and goodies.

What’s that? Oh, right, the ghost!   Here she is.

 

 

This Chocolate Teapot is a wise choice

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom, Esher

In England, there is a phrase we use to define something that is useless. For example, if my husband Mr. Tea gave me a book written in Mandarin, I would say to him first, that he was brainless, and second, that the book was “as useful as a chocolate teapot.”  The logic behind this idiom is that a chocolate teapot would melt as soon as you poured boiling water in it, so it is used as a comparison to anything useless or badly conceived. (Next time darling, just check my Amazon Wish List, okay?)

I had a chocolate teapot experience of a different kind on Saturday, one that warmed my heart into a big gooey puddle of English tearoom bliss.

 

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom, Front window

 

The Chocolate Teapot in Esher is anything but a proverbial chocolate teapot. As tearooms go, it certainly ticked all the right boxes for me: ambiance, cleanliness, friendly staff, and good food and tea.

 

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom, Front door

 

The best tearooms are ones that reflect the personality of their owners. This variety of style is what makes visiting them so much fun. My favourite tearoom style is traditional: lace curtains; pretty, mismatched china; real flowers; wooden chairs; and – above all – a cosy, comfortable atmosphere.  The Chocolate Teapot in Esher did not disappoint!

 

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom, Interior

 

Mr. Tea and I arrived midday and the crowd had already come and gone, so we had the tearoom all to ourselves (although there was a small special event taking place in the courtyard outside).  Combined with perfect weather and glorious sunshine, could Afternoon Tea get any better?

 

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom, Table set for tea

 

The wait staff at The Chocolate Teapot are very friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient, and we were also lucky enough to meet the owner, Jane, who was charming.

 

The Chocolate Teapot Tearoom Afternoon Tea for Two

 

The menu at The Chocolate Teapot is just right: a good selection of snacks, meals, and of course, teas. We ordered the full Afternoon Tea which included our choice of sandwich and homemade cake, accompanied by a pot of tea, scones with jam and cream and – appropriately – a tiny chocolate teapot brownie. (I love that little extra touch!) The food was excellent.

 

Denise helping The Chocolate Teapot, Esher celebrate its Second Anniversary

 

On the tearoom’s first anniversary last year, they set off balloons with coupons inside for a free slice of cake. One of the balloons – believe it or not – ended up in Germany, and the nice man who found it contacted the tearoom and the story was written up in his local German paper.  Saturday happened to be the tearoom’s second anniversary, so Jane asked if I would do the honours of releasing this year’s balloons. It was my privilege, so here I am.

If you ever find yourself in the Surrey area (inside London’s M25 corridor), I suggest you visit The Chocolate Teapot in Esher. You will receive a friendly welcome, delicious food, cosy surroundings – and the only chocolate teapot that melts will be that bite-sized brownie in your mouth.

Cassandra’s Cup, Chawton, Hampshire

Cassandra's Cup Tea Room Chawton England

This is a picture of the ceiling at Cassandra’s Cup in Chawton, Hampshire, England. I haven’t been there (yet!) but their website says they are a “small tradional tearooms situated in the beautiful village of Chawton, opposite Jane Austen’s house”.

There are so many lovely Jane Austen tea connections – but they shall have to wait for another day, another post.

I would love to do this hanging teacups thing in my kitchen.  Which would necessitate the start of a new collection of teacups.

Oh. Drat.

 

Image used with permission by Adrian Heller.