Tea house closes after eight years as business moves online with aim of becoming a ‘nationwide loose tea brand’

An Ely tea house has closed its doors for good after eight years because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with the business instead moving online in its mission to become a ‘nationwide loose tea brand’.

The owners of Samovar Tea House - which has been a popular fixture of Fore Hill for nearly a decade - say the building had been renovated at the start of the year to make space for more visitors.

Before lockdown, owners Sofia and Lizzy say the tea house was “busier than ever, with regular queues out of the door, and a friendly buzz about the place every day”.

But when the pandemic hit they decided to “immediately close to protect everyone”, having shut the cafe’s doors “some time before the Government instructed us to”.

They say the decision was obvious and that the building is now being sold: “Our café was in an extremely old, narrow building which made for a wonderfully cosy and atmospheric space in the pre-covid era. “But with no windows and barely two metres wide in parts, there was no chance it could function in a safe way with a pandemic going on.

“It would have been a health and safety nightmare to attempt to keep the building open to the public.”

Rather than incorrectly declaring itself to be ‘Covid-safe’ - “being indoors with no ventilation in such a small space” - the team say they have decided to “follow the science”.

Most Read

“Protecting the community, our staff, customers and neighbours was always going to be our major priority. We would never put profit before people’s health - it would be unacceptable to us personally but also go against what we stand for as a company.”

The team say their new website (and new biodegradable tea packaging) includes an online shop featuring more than 140 loose tea blends, as well as coffee, teaware and other products.

The website even crashed on its launch day, due to the high number of people placing orders.

The Samovar team now offers delivery across the UK via courier, but are also doing weekend deliveries to Ely (free of charge on Saturdays) and selected local areas (£1 charge on Sundays).

“This has been a really exciting opportunity for us to take our business online, and to reach a wider customer base across the UK for our loose leaf tea brand.

“We’ll always retain our local connection, with our local deliveries (see website for specific info) and custom cake orders. But we’re happy to be entering the digital space in order to offer our huge range of speciality teas to a wider audience, in a safe way that also makes sense business-wise.

“We’re really lucky to be in a position to be able to do this, and for it to be going really well.”