Britain’s 2011 Top Tea Room

November 22, 2011 by Bruce Richardson

Rocke Cottage Tearooms: The Gem of Shropshire

Americans traveling to England are always asking me for recommendations for my favorite spot for afternoon tea. I get that question almost weekly. I usually give two suggestions – one for London and one for the countryside.

British Tearoom
Rocke Cottage Tearooms

One of the most picturesque tearooms outside of London is located in the pastoral area of Shropshire, just west of Birmingham. The Rocke Cottage Tearooms was recently named Britain’s Top Tea Room by the UK’s Tea Guild. I traveled to this out-of-the-way jewel a few years ago to see what was drawing tea lovers to this rural setting. I spotted the appeal as soon as I entered the carpark.

This is the quintessential setting every traveler has when imagining an English tearoom. From the whitewashed stone walls to the Beatrice Potter gardens, everyplace you look is a postcard vista. The 17th century timber-framed building is decorated in a 1920’s style and filled with antiques and signage from a century ago. Best of all, the quality of the tea and food match your heightened expectations. It’s all due to the watchful eye of owner Karin Clarke.

“The attention to detail, quality of food, lovingly prepared by Karin and her team, who strive to ensure, where possible, that all foods are sourced locally, and whose excellent knowledge and service of teas served, is second to none,” says Irene Gorman, Head of The Tea Guild. “The very friendly welcome and relaxing and pleasant ambiance helps make afternoon tea at Rocke Cottage Tearooms a real pleasure.”

Britain's Top Tea Room
Rocke Cottage Tearooms

The judges were also impressed by the variety and amount of sandwiches, crumpets, scones and delicious cakes and were won over by the excellent selection of teas and the staff’s exceptional knowledge – all criteria I look for when writing my travel guides as well.

I’ve noticed that when visiting countryside tearooms in this area, as well as Devonshire and Cornwall, guests are rewarded with scones with generous amounts of clotted cream and jam. It’s almost more than you can eat. But, you can always take away the leftovers to enjoy on the way back to your accommodations. It’s amazing how good a cold scone taste at 10pm when you’re pouring over guidebooks to plan the next day’s itinerary. You can’t get clotted cream like this back in America so you might as well enjoy it while you can – just don’t tell your cardiologist!

See more of The Tea Maestro’s UK tea recommendations in the latest edition of his Great Tea Rooms of Britain or Tea in the City: London.

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Author: Bruce Richardson
Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Accomplishments
MSN calls Bruce Richardson "A leading tea expert involved in tea's American renaissance for over 25 years." The native Kentuckian is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo and China Global Tea Fair. He is the author of over a dozen books on the subject of tea. Mr. Richardson serves as Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.