A typical British thing to do is to go out for Afternoon Tea! I’ve been a fan of the smaller ‘Cream Tea’ version for as long as I can remember, thanks to my caravan holidays in Devon and Cornwall where they are extremely popular (St Agnes, Cornwall I’m looking at you with your GIANT scones)! As an Essex girl (not in the TOWIE sense) born and raised, with a Facebook friend list with lots of fellow Essex locals, I called on them for their favourite places to go for Afternoon Tea in Essex!
Afternoon Tea Essex
What is the difference between ‘Cream Tea’ and ‘Afternoon Tea’?
So I mentioned Afternoon Tea and then chucked Cream Tea to the mix, but what’s the difference? It’s quite funny living in America, people will ask me what food I miss and sometimes I’ll say ‘Cream Tea’s’ and not even think about it, but will usually get the response ‘tea with cream in it?’. So here’s the difference:
Cream Tea = Scones (a type of cake…if they are warm, even better!) with jam and clotted (thick) cream…in a ‘do it yourself’ style, served with a pot of tea…or if you’re weird like my mum and break all the rules, a pot of coffee.
Afternoon Tea = Usually served on a 3 tiered stand with all the bits from a Cream Tea PLUS a selection of finger sandwiches and a range of mini desserts and cakes. The idea being that a couple of people will share the ‘stand’, making it a very social occasion. Therefore when they are priced up on menus, it’s usually for a minimum of 2 people.
What goes first on a scone Jam or cream?
Depending on where you go, especially in Devon or Cornwall, there is definitely a right or wrong way to ‘put together’ the perfect scone. Hopefully I get them around the right way, in Cornwall the jam goes on first with the cream on top…in Devon, the cream goes on first and then the jam.
(Hunting down cream teas in Sydney, Australia!)
In my world the cream always goes on top! I put a tiny layer of jam directly on the scone, like when buttering bread, and then pile on the cream because I’m a pig!
I’m not sure what the protocol is in Essex or other places around the country, you’ll have to drop me a comment below with your location and preferences!
Essex Tea Rooms serving Afternoon Tea
Perrywood Garden Centre – Tiptree
Location: Kelvedon Road, Inworth, Tiptree, Essex CO5 9SX
Tel: 01376 570777
Back in 2015, the ‘Perrywood Tiptree Terrace Room’ won the ‘Greatest Afternoon Experience Award’ for their Afternoon Tea!
Afternoon Tea Essex
Their tea rooms are actually on the outskirts of Tiptree so have views of the countryside (and the garden centre shop is actually really nice…is it sad that I’m ‘young’ and yet love walking around garden centres?!).
The Afternoon Tea has to be booked 48 hours in advance and is served at either 2.50pm, 3pm or 3.10pm. Usually Afternoon Tea finger sandwiches are a bit on the fancy side, so when making the reservation we requested just ham sandwiches (on white and brown bread) and they were happy to accommodate this for us!
On top of the 8 finger sandwiches, the Afternoon Tea then came with 2 freshly baked cheese scones and 2 fruit scones (with of course cream, jam and butter) and then a selection of bite sized desserts (FOUR each).
You definitely need to go with an empty stomach! Those elements were all ‘sorted’ in advance, however on arrival we got to choose either coffee or from a list of various teas…I LOVE Rooibos Vanilla, and were given a selection of Tiptree Jam flavours to pick from. Traditionally Cream Teas are served with strawberry jam but I really like apricot or raspberry if given the choice!
We were given the option of a take home box for the things we couldn’t finish, the only exceptions were that the dessert severed in a shot glass couldn’t be taken or the little bowl with the clotted cream…so eat those first!
Price: $16.99 for 2 people
Tiptree Jam Factory (Wilkin & Sons LTD)
Location: Tiptree Jam Shop, Tea Room & Museum, Factory Hill, Tiptree, Essex, CO5 0RF.
In my opinion it’s a crime for an Afternoon Tea in Essex to be served without Tiptree Jam, produced by Wilkin & Sons LTD right in Tiptree, Essex! They’ve been making jam and preserves since 1885 and are still going strong, to the point where I’ve been able to find it on the shelves in Wisconsin USA! British Airways also serve Tiptree Jam during the afternoon snack service on long haul flights (I’ve had it on the London – Chicago route)!
(Tiptree Jam on the top shelf of the English food section in Mineral Point, Wisconsin USA)
In my previous job as a delivery driver, I used to drive by the Tiptree Jam Factory quite a lot, and even delivered there a few times! I used to love going by the factory on a summer’s day. I’d roll down my window and breath in the yummy smell of cooking fruit!
On one visit, I went by a field of fruit trees and I kid you not, there were people UP the trees in all in one hygiene suits and hair nets, checking on the fruit. It was honestly like seeing Oompa Loompas at a healthy version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!
Most of the factory is closed to the public, however there is a free museum which talks about the history of fruit farming, with lots of old photos and equipment or during the summer months (May – August) you can take a 40 minute guided tractor and trailer tour around the strawberry fields for £4 (16yrs +) or £2 for a child.
The jam factory is also home to the ‘Tiptree Tea Room’ serving both afternoon teas and cream teas (along with lots of other breakfast and lunch options)! Of course it comes with their own brand of preserve and Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream! Afternoon Tea is available all day and doesn’t need to be booked in advance.
Price: $30 for 2 people
Other Tiptree Tea Room locations in Essex for Afternoon Tea
Altogether there are 10 Tiptree Tea Rooms serving Afternoon Tea in Essex (same menu and prices). I’ve personally been to 3 of the locations: the Jam Factory, Heybridge Basin and Cressing Temple Barns.
Location: The Lock Tea Room, Basin Rd, Heybridge Basin, Maldon CM9 4RS
‘The Lock Tea Room at Heybridge Basin, just outside of Maldon, is in a really nice location, right on the edge of the River Blackwater. There’s no parking directly at the tea room, you have to either park along the road in Heybridge village or park in the car park and walk to the waterfront.
If you’re not too stuffed full of cake and sandwiches, there are some really nice river walks in the area that are worth checking out!
Cressing Temple Barns
Location: The Barns Tea Room, Braintree Rd, Cressing, Braintree CM77 8PD
Cressing Temple Barns is located just outside of Braintree. Some of the barns on site date back to the 1200’s and are free to walk around (please note for some events, there is an entrance fee). The Barns Tea Room is part of the Tiptree Tea Room chain and is easy to find as it’s just off the main entrance building, next to the car park! There is both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
The Best Afternoon Tea in Essex Recommended By Locals!
Here are some other tea room locations, recommended by my family and friends, to go to for the best afternoon tea in Essex!
(The links below will take you directly to the afternoon tea price/menu/booking page!)
The Glass House Tea Room: 118 High St, Braintree CM7 1LA
Wyevale Garden Centre: Cressing Rd, Cressing, Braintree CM77 8DH
Tiptree Tea Room at The Barns: Braintree Rd, Cressing, Braintree CM77 8PD
Hyacinth Tea Room: 8 Bridge St, Halstead CO9 1HT
Timbers Restaurant: Blake House Craft Centre, Rayne, Braintree, Essex CM77 6RA
West Street Vineyard: 108 West St, Coggeshall, Colchester CO6 1NB
Perrywoods: Kelvedon Road, Inworth, Tiptree, Essex CO5 9SX
Tiptree Tea Room at The Jam Factory: Factory Hill, Tiptree, Essex, CO5 0RF
(Positive and inspirational message on the inside of Tiptree Jam lids!)
Prested Hall: Feering, Colchester CO5 9EE
Jacqueline’s Tea Room: 14 Short Wyre St, Colchester CO1 1LN
(Colchester also has a ‘Tiptree Jam Jar Bar‘ serving drinks created out of liquor and other products from the Jam Factory!)
The Tea Rooms: 46 Newland St, Witham CM8 2AR
Rivenhall Hotel: Rivenhall End, Witham CM8 3HB
The Braxted Bakery: Homefield House, Witham Road, Little Braxted CM8 3ET
TIptree Tea Room at The Lock: Basin Rd, Heybridge Basin, Maldon CM9 4RS
Sophie’s Kitchen: 2 King George’s Place High Street, Maldon CM9 5BZ
Patisserie Valerie: 27 High St, Chelmsford CM1 1DA
La Petite Petanque: Cambridge Square Gardens, The Bowling Green Pavilion, Cambridge Road, Clifftown, Southend-on-Sea SS1 1EY
Greenwoods Hotel & Spa: Stock Rd, Stock, Ingatestone CM4 9BE
Check out my London Itinerary for a Harry Potter inspired Afternoon Tea!
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