You can now get afternoon tea – for your dog! 

Clementine enjoying an afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Clementine enjoying an afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

We are a nation of tea lovers. There’s nothing most of us like better than a strong brew and a slice of cake.  

And this passion for a cup of cha and something sweet seemed to soar at the height of lockdown, when we craved milky, sugary, tannin-laden comfort. 

Many, many delivery services popped up. Some of them cake shops and caterers who adapted and positively thrived. 

In this number are Gwen and Michael Clarke. Having set up their catering business 21 years ago with just £80 and four children to care for, they were, like many others, left uncertain about the future of their livelihood when the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns struck. 

“But we didn’t just stop,” says Gwen. “We had to adapt to the situation. So we started making afternoon teas for delivery and they were so popular because people were stuck at home. And then, quite a few customers asked us if we could do afternoon teas for their dogs!” 

It might seem like a gimmick but, as well as being tea-lovers, we do have a fondness for our animals in the UK – some of us looking after them better than ourselves. And the market for dog treats, gifts and events is growing. 

“We love dogs ourselves, and what really sparked this was a customer who was buying an afternoon tea to celebrate their dog’s first birthday. They asked if we could make one for the dog too.” 

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Naturally there was a lot of work involved coming up with formulations and recipes. There are quite a few ingredients pooches can’t touch – from chocolate and the sweetener Xylitol, to avocado, onions and garlic. 

“I researched and tried recipes out for about six months to come up with a menu,” says Gwen, adding that the doggy afternoon tea (£12) launches on November 1. 

“We often make cupcakes for dogs for Christmas so this takes it one step further. I’m looking forward to helping people celebrate their dogs and give them something nice this Christmas.” 

The couple are also looking at making cat afternoon teas in the future. But for now, your four-legged friend can look forward to a paw-print box arriving at the door, filled with sandwiches, a cheese and chicken scone, bone-shaped cookies, a sausage roll and a cupcake. 

Doggy afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Doggy afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dudley enjoying an afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Dudley enjoying an afternoon tea by Hungry Tums Catering - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

There’s a minimum order of two – but this could be one doggy box, and one of the ‘human’ afternoon teas, which are on special offer at the moment. 

Priced at £8.50 per person (usually £10) the teas are brimming with treats – from a selection of sandwiches, to a homemade sausage rolls, scone, cream, strawberries, mini quiche, Scotch egg and three to four pieces of cake. 

If you prefer savoury to sweet, there’s an Afternoon Cheese option at £10.99, which’ll get you a selection of five to seven pieces of cheese, crackers, grapes, olives, a cheese scone, cheese quiche and cheese swirls. 

Speaking of savoury – Gwen points out Hungry Tums has a Sunday lunch hotline. 

While the afternoon teas are available for delivery in Ipswich and surrounding villages, Sunday roasts are delivered only in Ipswich between 12noon and 5pm at your allotted time slot. 

Call the Sunday Roast Hotline on 07908119462, during the week and put in your order, which will come piping hot, straight to your door. 

“We slow cook a choice of three to four meats every week,” says Gwen, who also tells us many of her customers order a Sunday roast for their dog as an indulgent treat! 

“The meat’s from local butchers, and we get all our veg as often as possible from Suffolk Food Hall. It’s £6 for a small plate or £7 for a medium meal with free delivery. You get the meat, a Yorkshire, a stuffing ball, a pot of gravy, roast potatoes and a choice of three or four different vegetables.” 

Providing good value is, Gwen says, important to her and Michael. “We’re in this to make people happy and we love it when we get feedback. That’s so rewarding for us. Our customers got us through lockdown when we didn’t know what would happen to us. 

“It’s been hard work. We’ve been doing seven-day weeks to survive, but we would like to thank all the businesses and customers who supported us in the last year and a half. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here today.” 

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