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Cambridge Foodies: Why the Jubilee is time for tea

Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee is cue to take afternoon tea. Cambridge Foodies founder Simon Tompkins spotlights local teas sure to meet Royal approval

I am back and feeling rather patriotic thanks to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. What could be more fitting than enjoying some of the best afternoon tea Cambridgeshire has to offer? A lot of people don’t associate afternoon tea with foodies, but there’s a huge range of experiences to choose from and places which stand significantly above the rest when it comes to quality. So here are some of the top picks from the Cambridge Foodies Facebook group.

Gonville Hotel, Cambridge

Gonville - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397076)
Gonville - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397076)

The Gonville Hotel is perfectly located on Parker’s Piece in the very heart of Cambridge. It has a stunning garden with a beautiful marquee, perfect for those days where you are keen to be outside, but it is not quite warm enough yet.

The Gonville makes my list because of its “sweet treats” selection, made in-house by its very own pastry chefs. You get significantly more than just a slice of cake here and the scones are not only made fresh but are absolutely huge.

My recommendation: The vanilla and olive macarons.

The Orchard Tea Garden, Grantchester

Orchard Tea Garden - Credit Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397085)
Orchard Tea Garden - Credit Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397085)

It’s been running since 1897 and has served tea to endless iconic names, from HG Wells to John Cleese and Sir David Attenborough: it’s fair to say The Orchard’s reputation precedes it.

Upon visiting, it is easy to see why: located next to Grantchester Meadows, The Orchard offers a tranquil and beautiful afternoon tea experience away from the hustle and bustle of ordinary life in a stunning English garden. On a warm summer day, there is nothing to come close.

My recommendation: Booking in advance. I cannot stress this enough!

Carriages of Cambridge, Fen Drayton

Carriages - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397074)
Carriages - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397074)

Housed in classic railway carriages in a 1920s station, all beautifully restored, Carriages offers a unique and charming experience by taking you back to the golden age of train travel. Carriages is more than just a gimmick too, offering locally sourced and homegrown ingredients throughout its menu. The Afternoon Tea here is as high quality as it is classy, with the same impeccable service you would expect from that golden era of luxury travel.

My recommendation: Requesting the first-class carriages (at no extra cost) will make sure you get the full experience.

Peacocks Tearoom, Ely

Peacocks - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397086)
Peacocks - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397086)

Peacocks is a multi-award winning tearoom frequently voted one of the best afternoon tea experiences in the country. Offering a traditional yet quirky interior and a selection of different teas which fills two whole pages, this is a great place to start if you are looking to expand your tea repertoire or fancy something a bit more special than the standard English Breakfast tea.

Peacocks is a great feature in a day out too. Located in the historic city of Ely, 10 minutes from the railway station, and right on the riverside, you can make an entire day of it.

My recommendation: The dangerously delicious mocha cake!

Fitzbillies Afternoon Tea Box, River Cam

Fitzbillies - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397075)
Fitzbillies - Simon Tompkins of Cambridge Foodies (56397075)

Why have cream tea in a stuffy restaurant or hotel when you can have it basking in the sun on the Mill Pond? Fitzbillies is one of the oldest bakeries in Cambridge and specialises in handmade bakery gift boxes which include its famous afternoon tea packages to take away to enjoy anywhere you desire.

The best thing is the flexibility this offers: your afternoon tea really can be any experience you want it to be. With Cambridge offering such a wide range of beautiful green spaces and historic riverside locations, you really are spoiled for choice!

All Fitzbillies’ baked goods - scones, macarons, sandwich bread - are made at its artisan bakery in Cambridge, so everything is fresh and made to a high standard.

My recommendation: Enjoy a Chelsea bun while punting down the Cam.

Want to join the discussion? Find the new Cambridge Foodies website at cambridgefoodies.me.uk and join the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/cambridgefoodies/

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