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The loveliest local afternoon teas

Yay, it’s Afternoon Tea Week (9–15 Aug)! Not that we need any encouragement to scoff our weight in diddy cakes. Do we know of any nice places? Step this way, Madam.

Big pants on for a scene of pure indulgence: rinky-dink sarnies, melt-in-the-mouth macaroons, and lashings of tea served in dainty vintage china. We’re spoilt for choice in Essex when it comes to top of the cream teas, but here are our soft-spot faves, each offering something a leedle different. Pinkies at the ready, ladies…

THE ECCENTRIC ONE: Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Leigh on Sea

When it comes to afternoon tea, The Parlour Tea Room set within Leigh on Sea’s boutique interiors shop, Mad Dogs & Englishmen, does it in style – glamorously vintage, on the cusp of bonkers… style. Every few months, they go all out with redecorating and theming their teas – from Alice in Wonderland to Breakfast at Tiffanys. So it’s no surprise to find the food is an amazing mix art and pinkie-perfect fayre – delicate finger sandwiches, mouth-watering pastries, scones fresh from the oven, and more tea than at a Mad Hatter’s tea party. Another cherry on the cake is that you can enjoy it all while listening to jazz playing on their baby grand piano, swaying you back to a bygone era. See you there.

THE TRADITIONAL ONE: Wivenhoe House, Colchester

Mmm, now what could be better than hanging out with your friends in the 18th century luxurious surroundings of Wivenhoe House whilst enjoying their decadent afternoon tea of delicious sandwiches, freshly baked scones and beautifully presented cakes and pastries? Could it be the beautiful view of the famous cork oak trees? The bottomless pots of Earl Grey tea? Well this Muddy girl’s a firm believer in a chilled glass of bubbles adding to any occasion, and they just to happen to offer a Rose Champagne afternoon tea…   

THE FAMOUS FIVE ONE Wood Cottage Tea Room, Felsted

This adorable village tea room is the picture-perfect setting for a quintessentially British afternoon tea. The Grade II listed cottage is all lovely beams, pretty wallpaper and Lloyd loom chairs. But this dinky tea room comes with a big reputation for gorgeous homemade food, including those pinkie must-haves – delicate sarnies and delectable cakes, washed down with a huge range of organic teas served in vintage floral china. Just add Enid Blyton, lashings of ginger beer and don your favourite tea dress for a charmingly olde-worldie afternoon.

THE TAKEAWAY ONE Café Cou Cou, Saffron Walden

Juggling littlies off school with WFH doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your afternoon tea. This much-loved local café – and winner of the Best Café in Essex Award 2021 – has put together a dinky Takeaway Afternoon Tea for One with you in mind. Inside the Pantone-style box you’ll find savoury bridge rolls, sausage rolls (the flakiest pastry ever) with tomato & apple chutney, a selection of bite-size cakes and, of course, a scone with clotted cream and jam. Enough for one, plus those littlies.

THE SWEEPING VIEW ONE Tiptree Tea Room, Osea Island

Want stunning views with your afternoon tea? Then how about a cream tea from the famous Tiptree jam-makers themselves – it’s as real a deal as you can get, save perhaps a dollop of clotted cream eaten amongst a herd of Cornish dairy cows. This is the 9th ‘Tiptree’ tearoom venue, and arguably the most beautiful, thanks to its elevated location on the Blackwater Estuary. The perfect setting to scoff their homemade sarnies of your choice, itty-bitty patisseries, and scones with cream and a serving of their very own Tiptree jam.

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