Cambridge Foodie: Afternoon Tea in Cambridge

Find the best afternoon tea in Cambridge. Luxury, quirky and affordable afternoon tea in Cambridge, ideal for Mother’s Day, birthdays and celebrations.

This month Cambridge Food Tour host, Gerla de Boer, shares her knowledge of tea around the world and recommends her favourite afternoon teas in Cambridge.  

Did a few leaves from a nearby tree drop into the emperor’s cup of hot water changing the colour and the taste or was he testing the medical properties of various herbs? Whichever one you believe, since that moment, the Chinese have been in the spell of this delicious drink.

Many people don’t know that you have to boil the water at different temperatures depending on the tea you use. Boiling water should only be used for black tea. If used for other types of tea, it might burn the leaves and you will lose all the essential benefits.

I am a purist when comes to tea; no milk and sugar. Just tea for me, please. I have moved away from Lapsang Suchon and Earl Grey, and it’s now herbal teas only with the odd exception.


High-quality Chinese tea still ticks my box. If I walk into a tea shop in Asia, I find myself often ending up in a tea tasting ceremony and walk away with an excellent collection of tea.

I am always fascinated by the food culture of the destinations I visit on my travels. In Vietnam, you will see people cuddling a pot of tea. There is always tea around, so if you join them, your cup is never empty. They keep topping it up, so it is hard to break away from their heartwarming hospitality.

In China and Malaysia, they have tea with their meal and a different one afterwards, which aids the digestion.

In the Netherlands, it is tea for breakfast and in the afternoon around 3 O’clock, served with a biscuit as a sign of hospitality. Back here in the UK, people cannot live without a cuppa. I have become used to the name ‘builders tea’, something I really cannot stomach.

afternoon tea at Parkers Tavern

Afternoon and High Tea are a wonderful tradition, now taken on by other countries like the Netherlands and America too.

Tea consumption became very popular in the 19th century. At the time only two meals per day used to be served, breakfast and dinner around 8 pm. The Duchess of Bedford used to become peckish in the afternoon and then had a cup of tea and a snack. It became popular when her friends started to join her too. This afternoon snack turned out then what we now know as afternoon tea.

The High Tea, which is more substantial, was taken by the lower and middle classes after 5 or 6 O’clock as a replacement for dinner.

The increase of small independent cafes goes hand-in-hand with the boom of coffee and fine teas. One of my favourite places for a nice cup of tea in Cambridge is Tawa Kitchen, which opened their doors last year. They have an excellent selection of Indian tea and Barfis, which are sweets made of milk powder. Define!

If you have something to celebrate or just an excuse to meet up with friends or family, then an afternoon tea is the perfect late afternoon choice. There are some pretty unusual venues in Cambridge, so you are in for a real treat.

Afternoon tea at SIX, Cambridge

Afternoon tea in Cambridge 

Parker’s Tavern 

A must visit is our grand old dame, Parkers Tavern at the University Arms with views over Parkers Piece in their stunning bar enjoying delicious food with a local twist.


Tea with a view. Afternoon tea at Six at the Varsity Hotel promises you spectacular views over the historic centre of Cambridge as it is just below their roof top terrace.


Afternoon tea at the home of the famous Chelsea bun. Fitzbillies is an institution in Cambridge and beyond. At their Trumpington cafe you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea.

The Gonville Hotel 

Sip a cup of tea at one of the top hotels in Cambridge, The Gonville Hotel. A delightful tea will be served in the exclusive relaxed bar or the Atrium.

Hotel Felix 

Relax in leafy gardens with a cup of tea. Hotel Felix is a stunning boutique hotel with an unique decor. Enjoy your afternoon tea in their stunning gardens or in their garden room.

Quy Mill Hotel

Tea at the Mill. A stone’s throw away from Cambridge, you’ll find the Quy Mill Hotel. Once a historic watermill, it is a secluded haven where you can enjoy your afternoon tea in their lovely gardens.

The Orchard

Between the apple trees at The Orchard in Grantchester. A corner of England where time stands still as the world rushes by. Relax, enjoy the genteel setting and soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era with a cup of tea, scones and cakes under the apple trees.

Beyond Cambridge – Unusual Afternoon Tea places outside Cambridge

Peacocks Tea Room, Ely 

Quintessential English at Peacocks Tea Room. Voted as UK’s Top Tearoom 2007, this delightful tea room set on the river Ouse in Ely is worth a visit any time.

Poet’s House, Ely

Enjoy at an author’s house, the Poets House in Ely. This stunning boutique hotel in Ely was once the house of local author. Afternoon tea is served in the stylish conservatory.

The carriages, Fen Drayton

On the rails at The carriages on the station of Fen Drayton. Travel back to the golden age of luxury rail travel and indulge in our delicious range of handmade Afternoon Teas.


Looking for something unusual? I can assure you that sipping tea in a Bedouin tent is a fabulous experience. Meze and North African pastries with African mint tea at Bedouin in Mill Road is an experience not to be missed.


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