Bob Pickett drops in…
You must be doing something right when a hut in the middle of a forest is still serving customers after close to 100 years. That’s what the Original Epping Tea Hut has been doing since the early 1930s.
In that decade, Speedway was launched in Epping. Ernie Miller saw an opportunity and opened up a tea hut to cater to the often thousands of fans. Speedway came and went, but the Tea Hut remained, now into its fifth generation of ownership by the same family. That’s pretty incredible, don’t you think?
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Over the years, the original wooden hut needed replacing. The solution? An old shipping container (long before this became trendy) was converted for purpose, still in the same green paint as the original.
There was a threat to the Hut’s existence a few years ago, as landlords and forest owners City of London put a tender on the space. Thankfully, a long-standing customer ran a campaign to ‘save the tea hut’ and has since managed to become a Verderer of the forest and now sits on the management committee. The only difference: the hut’s been moved just slightly. A third upgrade came in 2016 – still using a shipping container, but this time purpose-built for the Hut’s unique requirements – and it continues to operate to this day.
Theirs is a simple formula: A lovely, friendly place to stop off and get good-quality (and plentiful) food at very affordable prices. The (delicious) cup of loose-leaf tea and huge (three-sausage) baguette in the photo (sorry, it should have been photographed before starting eating, but it was too damn tasty!) cost £6.50, a total bargain. Rolls start from just £2.50; sandwiches and baguettes from £4; muffins from £2; wraps from £4; with drinks from as little as £1.
The Hut has always been popular with bikers since its Speedway days, in part thanks to the great roads around the area (it’s easily accessible with nearby links to both the M11 and M25, A10, A12 and A406, despite sitting in the middle of an ancient forest). Upon arrival, there is plentiful parking and a large outdoor seating area.
And there are always bikes and bikers. We visited on a Tuesday afternoon, and the mix of bikes was fascinating, from an Indian FTR to a KTM 1290 Super Duke to a pair of Honda 250 Superdreams in stunning condition!
For fans of horror, James Herbert’s classic ‘The Rats’ was based just up the road at the High Beech Conservation area. And if you’re into classic trains (and who isn’t), the Epping to Ongar Railway is just a few miles away.
The Original Tea Hut
Cross Roads, High Beech, Epping IG10 4HR
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