As I trudged to class through the chilling rain and gusty winds this afternoon, I wanted nothing more than to sit down and have a piping hot cuppa. But I didn’t just want a cup of English breakfast tea from the Quarry, a café on my college’s campus. I wished that I was back at the University of East Anglia, so I could simply take a ten minute bus ride into Norwich, and stop by my favorite tea place, Biddy’s Tea Room, for a delectable afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea is, in my opinion, one of the most glorious parts of British culture. It refers to a light late-afternoon meal, which typically consists of an assortment of scones, finger sandwiches, small desserts – such as Victoria sponge cake – and, of course, tea. Though there were many places in Norwich that served afternoon tea, nowhere else compared to Biddy’s Tea Room.
In this small, unassuming vintage tea room hidden on a winding backstreet just off of the Market, there was always a bustling crowd waiting for their reservation time, or hoping to miraculously secure a free spot on the second floor for afternoon tea. I still find myself dreaming about their three-tiered afternoon tea special, which came with a pot of tea, and a combination of two of the following: a scone, a cupcake, cake, or finger sandwiches.
Their scones were easily the best I’ve ever had; they came with homemade jam and clotted cream, and they were always served straight from the oven. The scones were still so warm when they were served that they melted with the jam and clotted cream in your mouth to create one of the most satisfying tastes I have ever experienced. Drinking a pot of one of their custom tea-leaf blends made the dining experience almost spiritual.
Yet, it’s not just their mouth-watering array of homemade delicacies that made Biddy’s so incredibly appealing. The tea room’s furnishings and overall atmosphere held their own appeal. Biddy’s was brimming with vintage home-style decor, including antique tea cups, classic-style furniture, and a record player which played instrumental – predominantly light jazz – music from the 1920s through 40s. Sitting down in this quaint atmosphere, with a pot of tea, an assortment of delicious treats, and some friends always allowed me to unwind after class. After spending my year making trips to Biddy’s Tea Room, drinking a cuppa has never been quite the same.