The Library Tea Rooms,

Finding the small glen of Balquhidder, nestled at the end of a long windy narrow road to nowhere was predictably tricky, especially as the local signposts pre-date the death of Rob Roy in 1734, who is buried in the local church. But the discovery of the Library tea rooms was well worth the inevitable petty tussles [and nearly £300 damage to the car – ehem sorry, Amos] that ensued on the way. The Library Tearooms are about as tiny as the glen itself, and even the crisp white wood panelled walls did little to create the illusion of space, but don’t let this put you off.
A log fire was burning in the corner, and the built-in bookshelves were piled high with quirky reading material and delicate floral-patterned gilt bone china cups and saucers. We sat at the only table large enough to accommodate our hungry appetites, and feasted on scones fresh from the oven, filled with bouncy, joyous currents and served with perfect homemade strawberry jam and frothy whipped cream.
A treasure.

Verdct: a splendid 4 pots/5

For more tearooms in Scotland visit

The Library Tea Rooms, Balquhidder: we have tried very hard to avoid using the word "quaint"


Teabacks hung out to dry on a washing line to save money

What lengths will you go to to save money during a recession?


One of the best ways to enjoy all the frills of afternoon tea without the expense is DIY. We have been reviewing hotels and tearooms on our website for the last 3 years but still some of our best experiences have been in people’s homes:

Invite a few friends round, either informally over the phone, or make special invitation cards and post them with themed stamps, or tea-stained envelopes.

Dust off your old tea set from the attic or buy a mismatched assortment of pots and cups from a charity shop. Ask around and see if anyone has got three-tiered cake stands, silver sugar tongs, or fancy teapots.

Decorate the table imaginatively – don’t be afraid of the Kitsch, the Naff and the Downright Ridiculous. Gingham, flowers, bunting, silverware, portraits of the Queen. Anything goes.

Ask your friends to make or buy cakes, scones, sandwiches, strawberries, clotted cream, crumpets etc.

For more ideas, and some interesting recipes to try at home have a look at

Sally Lunn’s, Bath

February 23, 2011

4 North Parade Passage, Bath, BA1 1NX

01225 461634

Sally Lunns Bath Buns on display

Sally Lunn's (in)famous Bath Buns.

Meeting celebrities is nearly always disappointing, as Lily discovered when she was chatted up by Hugh Jackman in a lift the other day.

Sally Lunn’s has become had become a bit an institution in Bath and has claim – apparently not undisputed – to being one of the oldest houses in the city. It seems to have built a reputation in the States too as a purveyor of “authenticity” and “olde worlde English charm” and so remains full, from the moment it opens to the moment it closes, with camera-wielding Americans couples in matching Regatta hiking boots and fleeces. In deference to the proprietors, they certainly know their market and give the masses what they want but the seemingly endless popularity says more about the low expectations of the clientele than the excellence of either the service of the food.

The tea – served in metal pots and drunk from generic china – arrived as Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ started on its second repeat. They rather cruelly dress up their waitresses in Victorian maid costumes (why, please?) so it was harldy surprising that ours couldn’t even muster a smile. Two buns, thick cream and Tiptree on a large plate, and knock us down with a feather if they don’t pull out all the presentation stops and land a slice of dry orange on the side of your paper doily!

The (in)famous bun-like scones are pretty heavy going; if you don’t like them (and we can’t see why you would when you’ve paid £3 for something that looks and tastes like it comes from Gregs the Bakers) then they can be put to better use clubbing to death anyone who describes the surroundings as “quaint” or “genuine”. In actual fact it’s neither and it killed us to hear people talking in foreign accents about being English when devouring perfectly ordinary fare at inflated prices.

See more tearooms in the South West

Loosing our virgini-tea

December 20, 2008

Welcome to the very first Noveltea blog. Here you can keep up to date with our most recent adventures and tell us about your own.

Seriously! We’re potty about tea and always eager to hear what you’ve been up to so whatever you’ve got – a photo, a funny story, a comment or suggestion – don’t be afraid to  share it with us!

Tea laid for two, at Sketch, Regent Street

Tea laid for two, at Sketch, Regent Street

Don’t forget. You can find all this and more at our website,