Hello, is it tea you’re looking for?
In this edition of Nanu: Maps, Ellie and Elyse go in search of Edinburgh’s finest tea rooms. From the quaint and traditional to the modern and chic, Edinburgh does tea rooms very well. Unlike coffee shops which adorn the streets of Edinburgh in quantity, tea shops are much more sparse in the city, but uncompromising in variety and quality. Tea is a staple of the British diet and can be enjoyed to the maximum in the following establishments.
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Mon – Sat 08:30-16:30; Sun 09:30-16:30
Clarinda’s is a proper tea room. Antique china plates adorn the walls, doilies abound, and there’s a cake trolley laden with the day’s fresh homebakes, made on the premises. The instant you open the door there’s a welcoming whiff of thick soup, and the homely atmosphere continues with the small, “granny’s kitchen” style tables – which you will often find yourself sharing with other customers. Compared to many Royal Mile cafes, Clarinda’s is reasonably priced – only 90p for a cup of tea! There are a few specialist tea options, as well as a wide array of sandwiches (served with a handful of crisps, of course) and baked tatties. A lovely, quaint little establishment, which is popular with tourists and older locals alike – though due to its popularity, don’t expect to be able to hang out long after you’ve finished your cake.
Mon-Tue 08:00-17:00; Wed-Fri 08:00-19:00; Sat-Sun 10:00-19:00
If you’re looking for a modern, sleek version of the traditional tearoom, head straight to Eteaket. The décor is lovely, with bold pink and blue detailing as well as some kitsch accessories. There’s a substantial sandwich menu and a glorious selection of homebakes (a word of warning – their portions of cake are literally slabs). However, the stars of the show here are certainly the teas: from the classic English and Scottish breakfast teas to an exotic cranberry rose chai tea latte or milkshake, with a whole spectrum of black, green, rooibos, herbal and “speciali-“teas in between. If you prefer your cuppa to be a builder’s brew with a bacon roll for a couple of quid, Eteaket is not for you – but for an elegant afternoon tea, it can’t be faulted.
Loopy Lorna’s Tea House
Mon-Thur, Sun 10:00-18:00; Fri-Sat 9:00-18:00
With a specialty tea menu as long as your arm and a groaning table of homemade cakes, traybakes and cupcakes to ponder, it’s no surprise Loopy Lorna’s has been voted the best tearoom and coffee shop in Edinburgh. Located in Church Hill theatre, it’s a cosy little place with mismatched china, friendly staff and whimsical tea cosies. A wee bit more pricey than your average, but you do get what you pay for in quality and quantity. It’s also well worth the extra stroll into Morningside. You’ll be glad of it after you’ve polished off a slab of Lorna’s chocolate cake. Get onto the website for tea facts, tea essays and tea poems.
Walking into Anteaques on Clerk Street is like walking back in time. A mustachioed waiter, clad in 1900s attire, welcomes you into the shop and maneuvers around customers to show you to a tasting table. The tea menu is a comprehensive read, with all kinds of teas on offer, as well as the traditional accompaniments of scones and cakes. Old-fashioned brewing paraphernalia, antiques and curios are squeezed into the tiny space of Anteaques and create a unique and memorable atmosphere, unlike any other tea shop in Edinburgh. The slight snag is that it’s only open three days a week; Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And be prepared for a very polite waiter to ask you back in half an hour when a table is free. It’s worth the wait.