Once upon a time I thought Ely was terribly boring and there was nothing interesting about it. When my family first moved here, I was still living in London, so to me – ever the city girl – Ely was entirely too small (even though it’s really not.) But much like Cambridge, there’s been a change in the air. It’s no longer just families and old people about but younger folk are trickling in, bought out by Cambridge’s rising prices in rent/buying.
That can only mean one thing, fun things are on their way.
There’s of course long standing places to go such as the Peakcocks tea rooms, the river, an excellent antiques emporium (aka, Ruth’s favourite place on earth), the cathedral amongst many other things, but I always felt it was a bit lacking in places for the younger folk that were not still in school (i.e 20-30 somethings like myself). In the past year or two though, we welcomed a beautiful new boutique hotel, a new food and drink festival that happened this weekend past, a pop up deli/feast and my favourite tea house ever, Samovar Tea House and gallery.
Down the hill past the high street and market area where there used to be a bead shop (who needs a bead shop?) is the sweetest tea house in all the land. Boasting loads of teas, many of which are unique to Samovar – lovely specialty blends, cakes (some gluten free for those inclined) and breads it’s a beautiful little mecca with a gallery that is rarely the same when I go in.
It’s everything I ever really want in a cafe – tonnes and tonnes of great and different teas so you’re never bored, books, comfy couches and a really chilled out vibe, it almost doesn’t feel like you’re in England. They hold little events, a sci-fi book club (uh, yeah, AWESOME) you can buy the art on the walls, but I think most importantly, they know their shit. Speaking to Marta, one of the co-owners, everything about the teas is just in her head and she’s more than happy to help with explaining anything. It’s important that they love tea the way they do, because then this small, beautiful, gem of a place wouldn’t be so perfect. When I was last there, I had a chance to try the Moroccan Chai, specially blended for EAT Cambridge – a mix of green tea, Samovar Chai blend, Moroccan mint and cinnamon – resulting in a wonderful and delicately spiced tea. You get a full pot plus some extra water on the side to top it up which essentially means you can have at least four cups of tea (if not more) and each is different due to teas brewing process (also, you can sit there for ages with a good book and not even worry the whole time about making sure you drink your tea super slowly.) None of this standard bag, milk, mug, done. situation – tea is an art, and Samovar is Van Gogh.