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Suffolk People: Talking to Emma Neilson, from Cragg Sisters Tea Room, Aldeburgh

Cragg Sisters Tea Room is building quite a following. Is it the pretty vintage china that afternoon tea is served on;  the wide and unusual range of loose teas;  the delicious homemade cakes or the collection of quirky, handmade tea cosies that makes it so popular?  I rather suspect it’s all of the above and much more besides.

Cragg Sisters Tea Room is vintage-inspired, with a contemporary twist and it sits in the High Street in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk Coast.  Emma Neilson, the owner of the tea room,  took a break from baking rhubarb and ginger crumble cake, to talk to The Suffolk Guide about what she loves about Suffolk.

What makes Cragg Sisters Tea Room different from other tea rooms in the area?

Although we do serve cafetiere coffee, what makes us different  is our extensive selection of high quality loose leaf teas. Aside from those featured on our menu, I also like to make sure we have at least two guest teas on the specials board. We also use local produce wherever possible, for our cakes and light lunches.

What new developments have you got planned?

This summer we will be launching our “tea by the sea” hampers.  People can pre-order a full tea hamper to enjoy on the beach. I have also recently brought a 1968 Morris minor van…. so watch this space!


What is the most popular tea that you serve and what goes best with it?

Our house tea is definately our best seller and it is specially blended for Cragg Sisters. Personally speaking, I like to keep it simple and enjoy it best with a fruit scone, clotted cream and jam, or a slice of freshly baked victoria sponge.

Have you got a ‘funniest/most memorable moment’ relating to your business?

My most memorable moment is from last December, when John Cusack visited Cragg Sisters. On one occasion he sat drinking tea and chatting with a friend until 8pm, while I was putting up the Christmas decorations. He loved our vanilla rooibos blend!

What three things do you like most about living/working in Suffolk?

I love the ever-changing Suffolk landscape, from the purple heaths at Dunwich, to the bleakness of Shingle Street, to the vast skies around Aldeburgh.

I love the sense of community in Suffolk. People in Aldeburgh have been so supportive of what I am doing at Cragg Sisters.

I love the relaxed pace of Suffolk, but I also like that I am only an hour and a half away from London should I need some city life!

Where is your favourite place to eat in Suffolk (other than Cragg Sisters, of course)?

There are so many fantastic places to eat in Suffolk, but one thing I do love to do when friends visit, is to get fish and chips and sit on Aldeburgh beach, while being eyed up by a hungry seagull!

Favourite place to go for a walk?

I grew up in Dunwich and love walking around the heathland and beach there with my little terrier, Mylo.  My favourite walk is a circular route from Dunwich to Eastbridge with a pit stop in the Eels Foot, half way around!

What is your favourite Suffolk event of the year and why?

I’m not sure that I have a specific favourite event,  but I love the arts, theatre and dance, so often go to see performances at Snape Maltings.  I also love the more intimate venues of Dance East and the Wolsey theatre in Ipswich.
What’s your favourite Suffolk tipple?On a hot summer’s afternoon there is nothing more thirst-quenching than a glass of Stoke Farm Orchard’s traditional lemonade.Most fun/interesting fact about yourself?

Before turning my hand to baking,  I was a grease monkey and worked as a truck driver for an overland travel company.

Thought for the day/philosophy on life?

Always challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to take risks.

For more information on The Cragg Sisters Tea Room, please visit their website. If you have already visited the tea room and would like to leave a comment, please feel free to do so below, we would love to hear from you.

You can also keep in touch by ‘liking’ us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. This is a community website and we welcome contributions from anyone who would like to write about Suffolk or leave comments about places they have visited. All you need to do is register (just your name and email address) and then you can start writing!

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Written by Mark

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