We love nothing more than a good cup of British tea at the Magazine and a favourite pastime this summer – when we’ve had the time! – has been sitting in a traditional tea room…
This summer has seen another British tea room lover, Joe Ellis, controversial reviewer of the Joe Ellis Tea Room Guide website, sweep across the Peak District and the Derbyshire Dales in his bid to seek out the highs and lows of English tea rooms and save more from closing. His passion is not for the ‘cuppa’ tea itself, but for the tea room: the ambience, the staff friendliness, and the attention to detail of both what is served and the environment.
Ellis said ‘statistics show that 15 traditional English tea rooms are closing down every week, and they really need our support to keep going. If I find a tea room which is what I deem not my cup of tea, I am not afraid to say so. Many tea rooms finding themselves in this category in the past have contacted me for advice on what they can do to improve, and I am always happy to help’.
Ellis advocates supporting the more traditional tea rooms; painted pretty colours, with lace tablecloths and pretty china; and staff who get to know their customers. They usually give their customers a hearty welcome and value for money.
Ellis was delighted with the standard of tea rooms in the areas visited although he was disappointed that the majority he visited were self service.
Ellis points out ‘the experience of an afternoon tea, or even brunch or lunch in a tea room should be relaxing and enjoyable. Having to order at the counter is not really conducive to this concept. I even encountered one establishment, where the waitress came to the table specifically to tell me to order at the counter…why could she have not just taken my order?’
Of course the vast majority of the tea rooms visited on this trip had the added bonus of the beautiful countryside of the Peak District and Derbyshire Dales, and therefore the views from windows and tea gardens were worth the visit alone. Sadly though out of 19 tea rooms visited, 11 were open and were reviewed, two were closed despite the visits during opening hours, and the other six had closed down apparently only recently.
Just one tea room received the accolade of not my cup of tea but this was mainly because it was more of a café than a tea room in the true sense of the title.
Ellis continues to travel England in his quest to save the English tea room.
Joe Ellis’ website is very popular and he receives good feedback on the tea rooms he visits daily. He is also editor of the Time for Tea magazine which can be subscribed to via the site at www.tea-room-guide.org.uk]
Do you know of a great British tea room? Tell us about it below…