No guide to Cambridge and tea would be complete without mentioning the famous Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester, the old haunt of the likes of Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke. Getting to Grantchester is part of the fun, while it can be quite a long walk. For those with bikes, it could also make for a lovely ride before stopping off for tea. The afternoon tea is a must. Once you’re inside trying to decide which jam to accompany your fruit-filled or cheese scone, it may be difficult to stop filling your tray with goodies. You get your very own stately home/canteen style teapot and there is a range of teas too if you like having a choice to mix things up. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available. The deckchairs will be difficult to get out of but being among the trees on a warm, summer day makes sitting outside fully worth it.
Upstairs, in the right hand corner, in the chair closest to the window which overlooks King’s College Chapel, has to be one of the best spots in the whole of Cambridge. If you’ve had a busy week, there’s nothing quite like a large mug of Twinning’s English Breakfast tea while you enjoy the stunning view, perhaps watching the students, cyclists or excited tourist groups. For those who want a well-earned treat, Benet’s also offer a selection of flavoured hot chocolates such as mint or orange, perfect for a chilly day in Cambridge. Those feeling peckish can try a giant Jammie Dodger with a cute heart centre or a magical slice of carrot cake, which never seems to decrease in size. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s a selection of tempting crepes and pancakes (the blueberry and maple syrup pancake stack is divine). There is also
a number of different flavoured ice-creams available all year round.
For those who may be less familiar with Cambridge vocabulary, a Formal Hall is an event where the usual dining hall menu of a college is replaced with a special meal for the evening. Fitzbillies’ seating arrangement is reminiscent of a Formal Hall – a series of long tables where you may end up sitting side-by-side with strangers. Fitzbillies also do a lovely range of teas and coffees. It’s always very busy but even if you’re just visiting for a weekend or with a tour group, you should still try to check out this charming spot in Cambridge.
This quirky student-run society is exactly as it sounds – an opportunity for tea-lovers in Cambridge to meet up and drink unlimited cups of tea from all over the world. The great thing about the Cambridge University Tea Society is that it is not limited to Cambridge University students, but it is open to pretty much anyone visiting Trinity College. So whether you want unwind with something fruity or floral or are after something a little stronger such as Darjeeling, it can be found here. Like in cafes, you can go with friends and are free to come and leave when you please (as long as it’s between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.). However, unlike in cafes, here, it’s perfectly socially acceptable to go alone and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger. At least you’ve got the common conversation-starter of tea.
The Garden Café, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens are a hidden treasure of Cambridge and if you’re lucky enough to be a Cambridge University student, you can get in for free for the entire time you are studying. The tea here is lovely in any kind of weather and there is outside seating for those wanting to enjoy the sun. The gardens themselves are much like Doctor Who’s famous TARDIS – much bigger on the inside compared to what it looks like on the outside. Make sure that you take a look in the large glasshouses – there’s no need to venture outside of Cambridge to experience cacti, orchids or tropical humidity. The fountain is a really relaxing spot, as is the pond where there are always ducks swimming, adding to the sense of serenity.
While it’s not a library, the real benefit of drinking tea here is the peace and quiet. The cafe is situated upstairs and is small enough that it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming canteen but big enough that you can always get a table. Visitors to 2nd View might enjoy having a tea and a biscuit while finishing off that chapter of their Penguin Classic or perhaps penning that groundbreaking novel. The cafe also serves a small variety of hot food such as bagels, although the tea, books and peace and quiet seem to keep most visitors satisfied. A big plus of this little venue is that the staff never rush their guests, making it ideal for a long, lazy afternoon.