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Tea Cups tea shop in Woolpit celebrates 10th birthday

A phone call between two friends sparked a project that now has 10 fruitful years behind it in a tiny tea shop in Woolpit.

Carol Moss came up with the idea when The Institute caretaker’s house became available and she rang her friend of 40 years Christine Hicks and asked if she fancied the idea.

The first thing Christine said was ‘Who’s calling?’ but the seed was sown.

Carol Moss and Christine Hicks. Picture: Mecha Morton
Carol Moss and Christine Hicks. Picture: Mecha Morton

Three other people joined them and, with pooled resources and a lot of building work, the six-month conversion of the listed building was completed and Tea Cups opened on August 1, 2009.

To celebrate, the team invited their customers to join them for a cup of tea and some birthday cake at the next door institute yesterday but it was also business as usual at the tea shop.

Carol, 75, and Christine have been joined by Christine’s daughter Lisa in running the business today and they also have extra staff coming in to help.

Working in a tiny kitchen with just seven tables seating a maximum of 21 people can be tight, especially as all the food is home made and prepared on site.

There is no dishwasher or coffee machine but the tea shop provides dainty china bought from charity shops and donated.

The fruit and cheese scones have garnered a reputation along with the date crumble slice, which is suitable for vegans.

As well as cakes, the eatery also offers light lunches of jacket potatoes, wraps and soup.

Christine, 67, said: “We all love baking – it’s what we do and the village and local people support us and we also get visitors. It’s been brilliant. We are on our feet from 8.15 in the morning to 5pm but there’s a great sense of achievement and we get to meet people. We’ve also become friends with many of our customers.”

Lisa, 40, who grew up in the village, said she enjoys being part of the community. “I think a lot of people see a tea shop and think that looks like great fun but it’s harder work than people realise.

“We’re small but it works.”

Lisa says that because they have an open kitchen, often regular customers will sit at the nearest table if it’s not busy and enjoy a chat with staff preparing the food,

“You take a domestic kitchen and half that then put four people in there at busy times! We all get on well but you do have to have a good sense of humour,” she added.

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