Pour the British royal touch as you visit the Bay State’s tea spots


It’s Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, a really big deal across the pond, and marking Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne is enough to turn many of us into Anglophiles.

What better way to get in touch with all things royal than to indulge in a fine British tea?

In the Greater Boston area – despite our history of throwing tea into the harbor to protest royal rule – there are plenty of places to enjoy a real cup of tea.

The basic afternoon tea is called ‘cream tea’ and includes a cool teapot, freshly made scones, clotted cream and jam. A full tea has all of this and more – finger sandwiches, other baked goods, and sometimes a bit of bubbly or another concoction to drink first.

Some local tearooms have other additions, over 21 teas (something the Queen, who likes an afternoon cocktail, would approve of) and other twists.

Consider these places to raise a china cup to the queen, or simply enjoy some civilized respite.

A delicious porcelain teapot at Shelly’s Tea Rooms in Plymouth (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

Shelly’s Tea Rooms, 51 Court St., Plymouth: Shelly and Sean Sinclair fell in love with New England – and Plymouth in particular – when they first visited decades ago.

As operators of tea rooms in the UK, there was one thing, Shelly said, that she could never find around these rooms when she visited: “I really wanted a good cup of tea and I couldn’t find any.”

So when they moved here they decided to change that with the opening of Shelly’s (shellystearooms.com) on the main strip in historic downtown Plymouth.

Shelly’s, they say, is very similar to their old British shops, down to decor and ambiance.

The tea room is quaint and cozy. It is not uncommon to find ladies wearing beautiful hats and fascinators having tea.

The Tea Room focuses on a classic British tea experience, with cream tea, finger sandwiches and more, as well as a long list of unique teas to choose from.

There are little touches, the owners say, that are truly British – like their choice of croissants which are the classic type served in British tea rooms.

They are open daily and serve tea (as well as other selections) all day. They’re hoping to throw a special street party in honor of the Jubilee, but until then you can sit back, sip your pretty china mug and snack.

Tea and other British sweets on sale at Shelly’s Tea Rooms in Plymouth (Photo by Moira McCarthy)

Wenham Tea House, 4 Monument Street, Wenham: A classic tea takes time. That’s why the Wenham Tea House (wenhamteahouse.com) advise you to set aside at least 90 minutes for your experience there.

For the classic tea, you’ll be served a steaming pot paired with the classic three-tier serving setup you’d expect, filled with a selection of scones, Devonshire cream, lemon curd, jams, small sandwiches assorted teas and other creations made on site by their pastry chef.

The tea house also serves a wider purpose, helping to fund programs through the Wenham Village Improvement Society, as the tea house (which opened in 1912) has done for years. The tea house has helped fund everything from scholarships to pickleball courts.

Recently reopened after the pandemic, the Tea House – said to be the oldest operating teahouse in America – now also serves dinner. A tea service is offered every day, in a setting that weaves together cozy and historic. And the teapots – each a unique piece – make it even more special.

A special Downton tea planned at Dunbar House Tea Room in Sandwich (Photo courtesy of Dunbar House Tea Room and Wine Bar)

Dunbar House Tea Room & Wine Bar, 1 Water St., Sandwich: The Dunbar House (thedunbarhouse.com) could only be based on its location. Located in a 1920s carriage house nestled in historic Sandwich, the tea room features original wood floors and wood paneling throughout.

Inside it’s cozy and perfect for tea. On a warmer day, their garden is also lovely. The Tea Room overlooks the many historic buildings of Water Street. A walk after tea is the perfect complement to a visit.

Dunbar’s offers tea (and other goodies) all day. And while everyone should try a real tea service, their menu offers other choices, like the mini wellington beef and charcuterie boards.

They serve all loose leaf teas and have a tea sommelier available to help you choose the right one for you. There are also caffeine-free choices and you can take home leaves of your favorite tea from their tea shop.

Dunbar, under a new chef and pastry chef, now also offers a popular 21+ tea party, in which they serve ‘Tipsy Teatails’, wine-based cocktails with tea as an ingredient.


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