When you visit the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean this summer, you will be spoilt for choice...
Enjoying a cup of tea is every British person’s birthright, and for so many of us, a visit to a quaint tea room is the perfect afternoon escape.
For those looking forward to an escape from the rigours of life in a New Forest holiday cottage, full of gorgeous country walks and historical sites to work up an appetite whilst exploring, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to tea rooms in the area. Food blogger Cathryn from A Crafty Chai says, “The New Forest is a beautiful and spectacular place to visit. One of the great things about it is the independent tea shops that you will find there.” From traditional Victorian tea rooms to seaside cafés, or even some tucked away in idyllic English garden settings, we will show you where to enjoy the perfect afternoon tea in the New Forest.
Our journey begins at Rosie Lea, a multi-award-winning tea house and bakery located in the charming village of Brockenhurst. Keen on using only local ingredients, the high-quality products and delicious teas that they brew embody the local community spirit. It’s not just your standard breakfast tea they offer either, from the medium-bodied and flavoursome Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, to the fragrant and fruity taste of Darjeeling tea, they have something for everyone. Whichever tea you do decide to taste, expect it to be served in only the finest vintage china.
Lavender Farm is on the northern reaches of the New Forest. It welcomes you to enjoy gardening, tea and the delightful smell of fresh herbs in the air. Award-winning and near perfect in so many ways, they offer an extensive lunch menu featuring freshly made quiches, scones, jacket potatoes, salads and soups. Family owned and operated, the farm makes their own delicious homemade cakes and treats.
And one of the special ingredients that makes their goodies so tasty is of course lavender, from lavender scones and special shortbread, to lavender and coconut macaroons. They also offer a mixture of traditional and contemporary cakes, scones and shortbread. Outdoor and indoor seating make it perfect all year round.
Moving on from the rural expanse of the New Forest and into the vibrant city streets of Southampton, we have Mettricks, an establishment on a mission to bring better speciality tea and coffee to the port city. Offering coffee roasted by the Mozzo masters in Southampton, plus no less than 15 speciality teas which are locally sourced from Winchester, Mettricks aims to use as many local ingredients as possible. If you are in the city for a spot of shopping, stopping off here for a relaxing break is very much advised. View their menu here.
In the village of Lyndhurst, Acres Down Farm is your destination for the perfect cream tea in the countryside. Serving them for almost 35 years, the team at Acres Down are experts in teaming refreshing teas with perfectly moist cakes and fluffy scones for the ultimate cream tea. They help to create an experience you will want to enjoy time and time again. If you would rather not have the full cream tea, why not enjoy just a slice of cake and a cup of tea?
Capturing the allure of times past and the importance of British rail, The Old Station Tea Rooms at Holmsley offer guests a varied tea menu and an escape to the past. They provide an amazing lunch menu, cream teas and a full afternoon tea service. It is also convenient to a number of New Forest walking and cycling routes. Around since the 1800s, the station was frequently visited by Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Prince Edward. View their various menus here. Cathryn highly praises the Old Station, saying: “It is a quintessentially English tearoom, set in an old railway station. There is an excellent menu on offer, but I can recommend the cream teas!”
Buckler’s Hard is an historic fishing village that has been lovingly preserved. Situated on the banks of the Beaulieu River, it attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year and is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea or morning coffee. Captain’s Cabin Tea Rooms allow you to admire the beautiful surroundings at their best. From delicious teas and coffees to a full cream tea or light lunch, you really are spoilt for choice.
One of the few stretches of coastline where the New Forest meets the sea, Lepe Country Park is famed for offering one of the finest views of the Solent. It’s also a great way to enjoy a wonderful cup of tea, particularly at its café. Looking over the mile-long beach, the café is the perfect place to rest your legs after a nice walk, or a warm and inviting sanctuary to enjoy the views should you be enjoying your country cottage holidays during the colder winter months.
At The Old Farmhouse in Burley, they have been serving tea for over 100 years. They offer thatched tea rooms and have four individual rooms to enjoy. With a wood-burning stove to keep things toasty, you are sure to enjoy the experience any time of the year. They offer a breakfast and lunch menu to complement their traditional cream tea, cottage tea, and savoury tea service. Treat yourself to a slice of one of their amazing cakes and revel in your afternoon in the forest. The Old Farmhouse menu can be found here.
If you are keen to enjoy the high life while enjoying a tea or coffee, the Café in the Clouds at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower literally rises high above the rest in our list. Suspended 105 metres above sea level, it is located on View Deck Two and offers fantastic views across the city’s famed harbour. Aside from the vista, there are also sandwiches, scones, patisseries and unlimited tea or coffee for you to sample. The whole experience costs just £55 for two people, a price which includes entrance to the tower. Ellie from Spinnaker Tower hints that there are big things coming for the tea rooms in the New Year, saying, “We actually are going to have some exciting news shortly about our schedule of themed high teas for 2017.”
The Corner House in Winchester is an establishment renowned for its relaxed and informal environment. While it is a famed local hotspot for those keen on enjoying great conversation alongside fine food, it’s on our list because of its variety of speciality teas, including rosehip and hibiscus herbal tea, rooibos tea and ginseng oolong flavoured tea. Just a few moments away from Winchester’s famous cathedral, it’s certainly worth stopping by during an exploration of this beautiful Hampshire city. They have an eclectic menu that can be viewed here.
At the heart of the beautiful Braxton Gardens in Lymington lies a tearoom that is attracting visitors from far and wide. Muffins Galore describe themselves as “a vegetarian tea room in the New Forest serving lunches, freshly baked scones, muffins, cakes and other treats.” Sarah and Si of the tea rooms explain, “We are vegan and gluten-free-friendly. We also welcome dogs, and are open all year round.” Perfect!
The Buttery in Lymington has been in the New Forest since 1947, and is well known for its homemade cakes and scones which are baked onsite. Also offering English breakfasts, hot lunches, and a chef’s daily specials board, with traditional English dishes. However, it is the clotted cream teas, served all day, that are the most popular. Graham from the tea rooms says, “It has immense character set out over four sections on two floors with views over the high street.”
There is also a Buttery in the small village of Brockenhurst, where visitors can find a great selection of homemade cakes and scones, all made on the premises, along with the regular menu and all-day cream teas. Graham explains that a trip to these tea rooms can be a day out in itself: “We have spacious tables and a great view of Brookley Road where, if you are lucky, donkeys, cows and New Forest ponies come strolling by. With both venues being licenced and open all day, seven days a week, there is plenty of time to sample the whole menu!
Nicola’s Tea Room claims to be “on a mission to get the nation drinking real tea.” Based in Romsey, this dedicated café is proud to offer homemade food and drinks, using fresh ingredients cooked to order, whether it be local eggs or locally-grown vegetables. Their daytime menu features everything from international breakfast classics to curries of the day and, of course, scones, toasted tea cakes and a selection of baked goods to enjoy with their organic teas.
This chic modern café in Alresford is rumoured to have “the best flat white outside of London”, and offers a warm welcome to casual lunch dates and large parties alike. Long Barn say, “The view from the terrace overlooking the lavender fields and the English countryside is delightful whatever the weather (you can wrap up warm with a blanket and sip a coffee or hot chocolate) – or you can settle down inside and enjoy the welcoming and relaxed ambience.” Offering both standard and a special festive afternoon tea, these tea rooms take it to the next level with their menu, featuring unique bakes such as ‘hint of lavender’ scones, seasonal sorbet and fudge bites.
Annie’s tea rooms at Kimbridge Restaurant is situated in the beautiful Test Valley. Using fresh, local ingredients, Annie’s creates imaginative themed menus and special events in a rustic setting, perfect for any tea party. The Kimbridge afternoon tea menu comprises scrumptious scones, gourmet cakes, finger sandwiches and even a glass of bubbly to wash it all down – along with speciality teas, of course! They even offer a loyalty club, so if you’re local to the area, be sure to sign up because you’re guaranteed to be making repeat visits!
The clue is in the name with The Vintage Tea Room in Fareham. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a scene out of Alice in Wonderland, with gorgeous retro décor and crockery. Their vintage high tea menu is full of freshly-made sandwiches to order, fruit or plain scones, cake and tea or coffee. They also offer traditional cream teas, ploughman’s and flavoured coffees. You can currently get your hands on a downloadable voucher for a vintage cream tea for two for just £8!
Opened in 2013, Elsie’s Tea Rooms in Botley describes itself as a “traditional, family-run, cosy tea room” with upcycled shabby chic furniture, and tea in china cups and saucers for the full tea party effect. Offering private hire for afternoon tea parties from 3:30-5:30pm on weekdays and Sundays, their cream teas and afternoon tea cakes are home baked and even feature a selection of home-made preserves. They also offer a more personalised experience where guests can choose any sandwich filling from the main menu, plus gluten-free and dairy-free cakes.
You might not think that a village shop is a prime destination for a tea room, but once you’ve visited Minstead Village Shop, you’ll think again! Featuring a rustic, natural café, these tea rooms provide a unique twist on the traditional café menu. Their menu features unique dishes such as New Forest Smokery honey-roast trout and scrambled eggs, Hunt Farm sausage rolls with pumpkin and ginger chutney, Hampshire ploughman’s with local cheeses and much more. Their cream teas and afternoon teas are equally unique: expect Chutney Co. Tutti Frutti jam with your scones and much more. Their foods are also on sale in the shop in case you fancy recreating your own tea party later on at home.