Top tearooms in Britain announced

Award-winning tearooms around Britain prove they are the clotted cream of the crop when it comes to serving the best British afternoon tea.

The Black Swan Tearoom
The Black Swan Tearoom & Patisserie

The Tea Guild has announced this year’s winners for the top tearooms in Britain.

In North Yorkshire, The Black Swan Tearoom and Patisserie in Helmsley has been named the Tea Guild’s Top Tea Place
2010, scooping the prestigious award less than three years after it was first opened in December 2007, by the chef Marco Pierre White.

The awards are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the tea world and are organised annually by the Tea Guild – part of the UK Tea Council – to recognise and reward venues which adhere to the highest possible standards when serving afternoon tea. Each year, a team of Tea Guild inspectors make secret visits to take afternoon tea in dozens of hotels and tearooms across the country and award points based on the variety, excellence and knowledge of the teas on offer.

This year, the Black Swan claimed the top spot after it gained a near perfect score from the inspectors, who praised the quality and selection of the foods and teas on offer. The tearoom was also commended for its character, charm and the friendly attitude of staff.

The Palm Court at The Langham
The Palm Court at The Langham

The Top London Afternoon Tea Award went to the Palm Court at the Langham hotel. In fact, the Langham claims to being the first London hotel to serve afternoon tea: it’s a tradition they’ve been perfecting out since 1865. Reopening in 2009 after a major refurbishment, the hotel serves tea in an environment of crystal chandeliers, plush seating and piano music.

The guild’s Top City and Country Hotel award was snapped up by the Manor House Hotel in the quintessential English village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire. The inspectors found the service to be very efficient and knowledgeable, while the scones were “light, crusty yet moist and full of flavour”.

Meanwhile, over in Great Yarmouth in East Anglia, a Victorian tearoom at the Yesterday’s World museum on Great Yarmouth’s Golden Mile seafront has been recognised as the best in the area. The Tea Room of the Year award, from the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, comes as Yesterday’s World launches a new range of afternoon teas which celebrate the great British institution of the J Lyons & Co. The museum is a celebration of British social history, bringing back all the sights, sounds and smells of the past 125 years, and the tearooms also have the feel of days gone by.

Also recreating a more leisurely age is The Chelsea Tea Pot at 402 King’s Road, Chelsea, London. This charming little spot has a good range of teas – my favourite is the Gunpowder Green Tea – and all sorts of savoury snacks and mouth-watering cakes. As soon as you walk through the door, the pretty pastels and pleasant background music are a restful change of pace from an afternoon’s busy shopping along the King’s Road. And service with a smile! Definitely a contender for a future award!

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