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Tea for two

PUBLISHED: 12:56 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013

The Marshmallow

The Marshmallow

It's the icing on the cake as a cotswolds' tea room collects a top award for the second year running

For the second year running, a Cotswold tea room has been awarded an 'Award of Excellence' in the Tea Guild's coveted Top Tea Place awards.

Last year, the honour went to Juri Miyawaki at The Olde Bakery Tea Shoppe in Winchcombe, but the 2009 award has been given to the Marshmallow Tea Rooms and Restaurant in Moreton-in-Marsh.

This prestigious award is now in its 24th year and is seen as the Michelin
star of all tea awards, with tea rooms, country and city hotels around Britain competing for the coveted honours.

The UK Tea Council's team of Tea Guild inspectors searched the country to seek out the finest tea experiences and the judges, who make secret visits to all member tea rooms and hotels, awarded points for the variety and excellence of the teas offered, together with excellent service, décor, ambience, knowledge and presentation.

Tea Guild members were assessed on the quality and selection of teas offered, plus flavour, strength and temperature. In addition, the judging system also reviewed the care, knowledge of tea and attentiveness of staff, the overall ambience and the standard and presentation of the food offered.

The judges were so impressed with the quality of the afternoon tea served at the Marshmallow that they awarded it high marks in every category.

For chef patron Alan Cutler, the award was quite literally the icing on the cake - coffee and walnut-flavoured, of course.

Alan took over the Marshmallow three years ago but prior to that he had been head chef at Dormy House hotel at Broadway, where he had worked for 20 years.

Whilst maintaining its traditional charm, Alan set about changing things at the Marshmallow, introducing more home cooked savoury dishes and opening the tea rooms as a restaurant in the evening.

It has clearly paid off, for business is good, with a strong local following as well as attracting hordes of tourists.

But then the Marshmallow ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the quintessential English tea room, with its attractive, creeper-clad Grade II listed frontage and flagstoned courtyard, not to mention its exposed stone walls and old pine furnishings.

And then there's the food and drink on offer, not least the cake trolley groaning under the weight of homemade scones (eight different sweet and savoury varieties of them), chocolate fudge cake, coffee and walnut cake and Victoria sponges.

As for the tea, well, there's around 30 types to choose from - all loose rather than in the bag - and all brewed to perfection by Alan and his well-trained staff, whether it's the refreshing jasmine or the smoky lapsang souchong.

But it's not just the tea and cakes that people travel from miles around for. There's the full English breakfasts featuring Cotswold bacon, Gloucester Old Spot sausages and local eggs, the lunches and the traditional English food served in the evenings - everything from beef Wellington to local ham, egg and homemade chips, followed by meringue roulades and spotted dick and custard.

Says Alan: "When I took over, not everything was homemade so I wanted it to go back to cooking proper, traditional English classics using local produce.

"All the meat is local and from within a couple of miles of here. You've got to support the local butchers and greengrocers because if you don't, they'll all go.

"Evenings are picking up and our local reputation is growing, thanks largely to local b&bs who recommend us to their guests."

As for why he thinks the Marshmallow has won such a coveted award, he puts it down to getting the little things right, as well as carrying on a fine English tradition.

"I think the service has a lot to do with it. We're very chatty with people and we take care of them, but it's all down to crockery and things like proper sugar cubes served with silver tongs. You go to some places and they just put out sachets of sugar and it's not the same.

"As for the tea, it's all about the brewing, making sure the water is the correct temperature and simple things like warming the pot beforehand.

"I think a lot of people at the moment want to sit down, relax, forget the news and spend an hour over a pot of tea and a cake.

"Part of the reason why more people are embracing tea rooms is because they are fed up of all the coffee chains like Starbucks which are all the same.

"I think afternoon tea is really making a comeback and traditional tea rooms are all very different and have their own individual character, which is why more people are going back to them."


Commenting on the Marshmallow winning the award, Irene Gorman, Head of The Tea Guild, said: "Each year the judges' task of choosing those who achieve an 'Award of Excellence' gets more challenging, as Tea Guild member standards continue to reach new levels, and this year's competition was no exception.
"This Award of Excellence to the Marshmallow Tearooms and Restaurant was presented in recognition of their consistently high standards of tea making, evident in the care and attention to detail with which they prepare and serve afternoon tea."


The Marshmallow Tea Rooms and Restaurant, High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh. Tel: 01608 651536

For the second year running, a Cotswold tea room has been awarded an 'Award of Excellence' in the Tea Guild's coveted Top Tea Place awards.

Last year, the honour went to Juri Miyawaki at The Olde Bakery Tea Shoppe in Winchcombe, but the 2009 award has been given to the Marshmallow Tea Rooms and Restaurant in Moreton-in-Marsh.

This prestigious award is now in its 24th year and is seen as the Michelin
star of all tea awards, with tea rooms, country and city hotels around Britain competing for the coveted honours.

The UK Tea Council's team of Tea Guild inspectors searched the country to seek out the finest tea experiences and the judges, who make secret visits to all member tea rooms and hotels, awarded points for the variety and excellence of the teas offered, together with excellent service, décor, ambience, knowledge and presentation.

Tea Guild members were assessed on the quality and selection of teas offered, plus flavour, strength and temperature. In addition, the judging system also reviewed the care, knowledge of tea and attentiveness of staff, the overall ambience and the standard and presentation of the food offered.

The judges were so impressed with the quality of the afternoon tea served at the Marshmallow that they awarded it high marks in every category.

For chef patron Alan Cutler, the award was quite literally the icing on the cake - coffee and walnut-flavoured, of course.

Alan took over the Marshmallow three years ago but prior to that he had been head chef at Dormy House hotel at Broadway, where he had worked for 20 years.

Whilst maintaining its traditional charm, Alan set about changing things at the Marshmallow, introducing more home cooked savoury dishes and opening the tea rooms as a restaurant in the evening.

It has clearly paid off, for business is good, with a strong local following as well as attracting hordes of tourists.

But then the Marshmallow ticks all the right boxes when it comes to the quintessential English tea room, with its attractive, creeper-clad Grade II listed frontage and flagstoned courtyard, not to mention its exposed stone walls and old pine furnishings.

And then there's the food and drink on offer, not least the cake trolley groaning under the weight of homemade scones (eight different sweet and savoury varieties of them), chocolate fudge cake, coffee and walnut cake and Victoria sponges.

As for the tea, well, there's around 30 types to choose from - all loose rather than in the bag - and all brewed to perfection by Alan and his well-trained staff, whether it's the refreshing jasmine or the smoky lapsang souchong.

But it's not just the tea and cakes that people travel from miles around for. There's the full English breakfasts featuring Cotswold bacon, Gloucester Old Spot sausages and local eggs, the lunches and the traditional English food served in the evenings - everything from beef Wellington to local ham, egg and homemade chips, followed by meringue roulades and spotted dick and custard.

Says Alan: "When I took over, not everything was homemade so I wanted it to go back to cooking proper, traditional English classics using local produce.

"All the meat is local and from within a couple of miles of here. You've got to support the local butchers and greengrocers because if you don't, they'll all go.

"Evenings are picking up and our local reputation is growing, thanks largely to local b&bs who recommend us to their guests."

As for why he thinks the Marshmallow has won such a coveted award, he puts it down to getting the little things right, as well as carrying on a fine English tradition.

"I think the service has a lot to do with it. We're very chatty with people and we take care of them, but it's all down to crockery and things like proper sugar cubes served with silver tongs. You go to some places and they just put out sachets of sugar and it's not the same.

"As for the tea, it's all about the brewing, making sure the water is the correct temperature and simple things like warming the pot beforehand.

"I think a lot of people at the moment want to sit down, relax, forget the news and spend an hour over a pot of tea and a cake.

"Part of the reason why more people are embracing tea rooms is because they are fed up of all the coffee chains like Starbucks which are all the same.

"I think afternoon tea is really making a comeback and traditional tea rooms are all very different and have their own individual character, which is why more people are going back to them."

Commenting on the Marshmallow winning the award, Irene Gorman, Head of The Tea Guild, said: "Each year the judges' task of choosing those who achieve an 'Award of Excellence' gets more challenging, as Tea Guild member standards continue to reach new levels, and this year's competition was no exception.
"This Award of Excellence to the Marshmallow Tearooms and Restaurant was presented in recognition of their consistently high standards of tea making, evident in the care and attention to detail with which they prepare and serve afternoon tea."


The Marshmallow Tea Rooms and Restaurant, High Street, Moreton-in-Marsh. Tel: 01608 651536

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