On the Essex Tea Shop Trail
PUBLISHED: 08:32 07 May 2014 | UPDATED: 08:32 07 May 2014
Discovering the perfect place for a pot of tea or fresh coffee, with perhaps the added indulgence of sandwiches, cream teas and cakes, is a simple pleasure. Petra Hornsby picks some of best in Essex
The Essex Rose
Dedham village and the pretty countryside that surrounds it provides an ideal place to visit whatever the time of year, with plenty of walks on offer including a stride across the meadows to Flatford Lock. The Essex Rose is a traditional timber-framed tea house in the heart of Dedham, close to the Stour Valley and Constable Country, and a perfect location for visitors and walkers wanting a jug of hot chocolate, a light lunch or a family afternoon tea.
Special Ingredient: The beautiful original features and the quiet country charm of simple, traditional good food.
For a real slice of afternoon indulgence head for the Maison Talbooth, a venue that embraces the ritual of tea as much as it does any other meal of the day. Presented on a three-tier stand, this particular feast begins with a variety of sandwiches, scones, cakes, macaroons and unusual delights such as miniature lemon meringue pies. Tea is served in the delightful Garden Room and in warmer weather on the terrace overlooking the stunning views of Dedham Vale.
Special Ingredient: An incredible selection of Novus teas (such as white pear and ginger, citrus chamomile or Persian pomegranate) are available while all dietary needs are catered for.
The Shoulder of Mutton
Afternoon tea should be more than just about the tea and cakes; it should be an experience, and a good one of course. Take a table at the Shoulder of Mutton and you will be charmed back to another era thanks to the cleverly thought through vintage-themed styling. Tea is served in delicate mis-matched patterned china cups and there is pretty bunting, lace and ornamental bird cages to complete the picture. Tea can either be the full package with sandwiches, scones and cake or, for the slightly lighter option, perhaps just a cream tea.
Special Ingredient: The choice of delicious cakes are baked on the premises.
6 Market Place
The British might feel they have the monopoly on afternoon tea, but the French are fair competition with their wonderful patisseries. Now Great Dunmow can boast a little piece of France with Patisserie Coustance the perfect spot for some post-lunch yumminess. Specialities include delicious handmade patisserie and cake in a friendly and inviting setting. Products are freshly made on the premises from locally sourced ingredients and, as well as the sweet options on offer, there is a daily soup, savoury tart and breakfast specials.
Special Ingredient: This uniquely modern artisan patisserie and café produces food with a continental flavour.
West Hanningfield Road
Pontlands Park in Great Baddow serves up a five-star afternoon tea that is perfect for any special celebration. A charming private room is available for larger parties gathering for a hen party or baby shower while the comfortably, relaxed and stylish lounge is ideal for treating a loved one for a birthday or anniversary, or even for just meeting a friend. Afternoon tea is beautifully presented with a choice of a simple cream tea or a more extravagant full afternoon tea.
Special Ingredient: Delicious fruit scones served with clotted cream and a children’s afternoon tea menu are available.
West Street Vineyard
Essex is not short of stunning locations and the setting of West Street Vineyard is no exception. Located in the charming village of Coggeshall, with its wonderful architecture and shops, visitors to the restaurant will get to truly indulge their senses. Afternoon tea is freshly prepared on the premises and includes a choice of beautifully presented sandwiches, scones and cakes all served in the peaceful ambience of the vineyard which overlooks the River Blackwater.
Special Ingredient: Try a glass of the vineyard’s own award-winning West Street sparkling wine with your afternoon tea for that extra special treat.
Scrumptious Tea Rooms
1 Market Street
Scrumptious Tea Rooms has a welcoming, traditional feel inspired by the character of the pre-war English corner shop. This charming tea shop offers a tranquil change of pace where one can really unwind and enjoy the joy of real tea and tasty tea-time treats. The family-run business prides itself on serving a great selection of loose leaf tea in the traditional way and the regular menu uses quality and locally-sourced produce. Gluten, dairy and wheat-free cakes are also available.
Special Ingredient: The pre-bookable signature Afternoon Tea is the perfect indulgence for that special occasion.
The County Hotel
Afternoon Teas at The County Hotel in Chelmsford are great value for money and charmingly presented. The menu offers a good choice of teas or freshly-ground coffees, along with finger sandwiches, homemade scones with fresh cream and strawberry jam and a tempting selection of homemade mini cakes. The hotel also offers gluten and dairy-free options so no-one need miss out. Teas are available between 2.30pm and 5.30pm but pre-booking is recommended.
Special Ingredient: Looking for a present for someone? The hotel can provide personalised vouchers for a special afternoon treat.
Zoe’s Coffee Shop
9 High Street
Owner Zoe Brady has her focus on providing quality food served with a smile. Her overriding passion is creating a menu of tasty homemade dishes, using local produce wherever possible. Available daily are many traditional favourites, such as sausage rolls and savoury tarts, along with a wide range of tempting sandwiches. Scones are baked in-house every morning and served with a little pot of Tiptree jam — perfect to have with a coffee or tea, whatever your preference.
Homemade Scotch eggs, either traditional or made with black pudding, or the farmhouse platter offer something that little extra special.
106 High Street
A charming venue, set in the popular town of Maldon, Truly Scrumptious offers everything you would expect from a traditional tea room and more. The building dates back to 1680 and has kept many of its original features and this, combined with sympathetic, vintage styling, has helped to create an ambience that many period dramas would strive to recreate. Delicious homemade food including generous slices of freshly-baked cakes and a good selection of teas and coffees, makes for an enjoyable visit.
Special Ingredient: The friendliness and enthusiasm of the staff and, in the owner’s own words, ‘the customers are wonderful; it’s a pleasure to serve them’.
3 The Green
Mauro’s is situated opposite the duck pond in the delightful village of Writtle and describes itself as a tea room with a difference. By combining the charm of an English tea room with the vibrant yet relaxing feel of an Italian coffee house, customers can get the best of both worlds. Beverage choices include quality loose leaf tea and illy coffee, while to eat there are sandwiches with a variety of fillings made with fresh local bread, paninis, scrumptious cakes and homemade fruit and cheese scones.
Special Ingredient: For those with a larger hunger hole to fill, Mauro’s has a selection of daily homemade specials.
Many of the best views in Essex can be found by the water and a trip to the Blackwater estuary is highly recommended, whether for a sail, gentle stroll, cycle ride or just for those in search of a cuppa in a peaceful location — something that can be found at The Lock at the popular and scenic Heybridge Basin. The Lock tea room offers its visitors delicious refreshments in a charming setting overlooking the Blackwater.
Special Ingredient: Freshly-cooked breakfasts, homemade lunches and Tiptree cream teas are available every day.
The Angel Inn
Stoke by Nayland
Crossing over into Suffolk, a perfect place to visit is the quaint village of Stoke by Nayland with its pretty timber-framed houses. After completing one of the many walks to be enjoyed in the surrounding countryside, an ideal place to refuel with a delicious afternoon tea is The Angel Inn. A set tea, available by appointment, provides a mouth-watering offering of traditional finger sandwiches, homemade scones and assorted cakes. Liquid refreshments include freshly-ground coffees and a selection of teas, or perhaps a glass of Champagne.
For winter tea-time visits, the cosy fireside setting is hard to beat.
Tiptree Tea Room
Tiptree Visitor Centre
Tiptree CO5 0RF
Beside the fruit farm, beyond the tea room, is the home of Tiptree preserves. The Visitors’ Centre gives people an opportunity to explore the Tiptree Jam Museum where reminders of early jam production, war time events, village life and royal visits are illustrated. The tea room serves delicious home-cooked food throughout the day with waiter service on the terrace, when the weather allows, or in the tea room.
Special Ingredient: Tiptree Strawberry Conserve served with homemade scones, fresh cream and tea of choice, what else?
The Cart Lodge
Chigborough Road, Heybridge
Maldon CM9 4RE
The Cart Lodge is a tiny tea room situated by the lakes at Chigborough that serves a range of very special smoked fish and fish pates, as well as light lunches and cream teas. Chigborough Barns is a perfect base for a day’s fishing (day tickets available) or a good long walk along the River Blackwater to the Heybridge Basin — ideal for working up an appetite.
Special Ingredient: The warm and friendly atmosphere and the character of the building that features timbers salvaged from wrecks found on the mud flats of the Blackwater.
The Dutch Nursery, West Street
Coggeshall CO6 1NT
Café Dutch is a great resting place among the wonderful plants and outdoor items on display in the nursery. This warm and friendly venue is also a perfect meeting place for friends with plenty of parking space available throughout the day. The menu features a great choice, from Sunday roasts through to light lunches and snacks. Tea-time options include a choice of speciality teas, coffees and a selection of cakes and pastries.
Special Ingredient: On sunny days visitors can enjoy their refreshments out on the terrace overlooking the attractive outdoor plant area.
Bosworth’s Tea Rooms
The Green, Finchingfield CM7 4JX
It has been suggested that Finchingfield is the country’s most photographed village and its charms are obvious with its recognisable green, duck pond, church and pretty houses. Photographers wanting to take a break from all the sights that are waiting to be captured could do worse than resting their legs and lenses at Bosworth’s Tea Rooms. Available to all visitors is a warm welcome, tea or coffee and a varied selection of cakes, snacks and cream teas.
The hot salt beef sandwich seems to be something of a special as are the rather generous cake portions
The Lordship Tea Room
Lordship Road, Writtle
Chelmsford CM1 3RS
Just a short drive away from the bustle of Chelmsford, Writtle is a perfectly tranquil escape and features include a picturesque duck pond, Norman church and a delightful array of cottages. The Lordship Tea Room was once a cattle shed and milking parlour and was converted in 2011. Found within the grounds of Writtle College, The Lordship is a great place to meet friends for coffee and cake or perhaps a lunch made from the freshest ingredients.
Special Ingredient: Gifts, products, meats, pates and breads can be found in the food hall across the courtyard.
Blackmore Tea rooms
The Green, Blackmore
Ingatestone CM4 0RL
It is thought that the name Blackmore once referred to Black Swamp or Black Marsh during the Middle Ages, when names were more literally meant. These days, the character of this pretty village is clear to see and certainly well worth a visit, whether out cycling, walking or for a drive. Blackmore Tea Rooms are a perfect refreshment stop and serve traditional loose leafed tea in teapots with old fashioned strainers.
Popular illy coffee served for the non-tea drinkers and a good choice of jacket potatoes, paninis and cakes.
Down Hall Country House Hotel
Taking tea at Down Hall is truly a luxurious experience and a chance to indulge in the historic splendour of this stunning Italianate mansion that dates back to 1322. Visitors are encouraged to wander through the several acres of landscaped gardens and woodlands to fully appreciate the lovely setting. Afternoon Tea at Down Hall is a perfect present for a special occasion or to treat a loved one.
Special Ingredient: Champagne Afternoon Tea, well in such a setting it would seem foolish not to enjoy a glass of bubbly along with the traditional tier of tea-time favourites.