Tea for you and me

Join me on my epic quest to find the best tea ever


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Store Street Espresso

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Rooibos tea and the crumbs from my pain au raisin at Store Street Espresso

I know, I’m breaking all the good tea finding instincts by heading into somewhere that references coffee in its name, but in my defence I’d been here before and I knew it sold rooibos. Plus there are two other cafes on this street and they were both empty, whereas Store Street Espresso was busy.

This cafe is narrow but goes all the way to the back of the building. I like it because it has skylights at the back and a big window at the front, so wherever you sit there’s a lot of light.

I had a rooibos tea and a pain au raisin (as they’d run out of pain au chocolat) but my phone didn’t save the first photo so you’ve just got a picture of tea and a plate of crumbs. The tea was nice. Not in a pot but brought to me at my table ready brewed. I think it’s loose leaf because it had little bits of rooibos floating in it.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? Maybe. It’s a tea mystery. I couldn’t be bothered to go and ask at the counter so we may never know.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £5.10 for rooibos tea and a big pain au raisin.
  • Cake? Yes. Never tried it but it looked good (and the Anzac biscuits looked good too).
  • Go again? Yes. It’s my usual place to drink tea if I’m in the area.

 

Store Street Espresso: 40 Store Street, London, WC1E 7DB. Visited on Tuesday 30th October 2018.

 

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The Fig Store

On a beautifully sunny day, six of us went on a trip to Bath. We found one great yarn shop by accident (wool) and another on purpose (A Yarn Story) and then treated ourselves to a well deserved cup of tea down the road at The Fig Store.

The Fig Store is a shop and cafe, with the shop selling plants, wooden things and metal things. We went in because the sign outside said they had a garden cafe and we fancied enjoying the sunshine a little bit more. It turned out to be a beautiful green sun-trap of a courtyard garden, with ample seating for the six of us. Tucked inside the building was a small cafe counter and we all ordered tea and cake. The monochrome aesthetic of the shop and cafe (and crockery) was mentioned by one of my companions as being particularly pleasing.

Unfortunately there was no rooibos tea and I ended up having camomile, but the banana loaf cake was excellent. It also had satisfyingly thin cups, which always makes the tea drinking experience better. Others enjoyed the Earl Grey tea, the peppermint and the English Breakfast and all said they were good.

When we first arrived there was no one else there and we wandered around the garden, taking photos and discussing the different shades and textures of the greenery. It felt like a hidden treat, especially as we happened upon it by chance. Definitely a cafe I will seek out next time I am in Bath.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? No, but a fancy teabag.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.20 for a pot of tea, £2.30 for banana loaf, £3.50 for the other larger cakes.
  • Cake? Yes, and very good it was too. No meals or sandwiches though.
  • Go again? Yes.

76 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BD. Visited on Saturday 15th September 2018.


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Organic Deli, Oxford

24 Friars Entry, Oxford, OX1 2BY

Pots of tea at Organic Deli

Pots of tea and a plastic spoon table number at Organic Deli in Oxford

Organic Deli in Oxford (or to give it it’s full title, Organic Deli Cafe and Wholefoods Store) is on a quiet side street in the town centre. On the pavement outside the front window were boxes of vegetables and inside was a counter full of food and a few tables. But there’s also a tiny outside area and another two floors of seating, so we didn’t find it hard to get a seat.

I had a rooibos tea and KD had Darjeeling. It came loose leaf, in a pot, with little milk jugs. That plastic spoon has our table number on it, so not a throwaway plastic spoon. The tea was good and we enjoyed sitting at our table in the window.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Yup.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? KD treated me to my pot of tea (thanks again!), so I’m not sure of the exact price.
  • Cake? Yes and sandwiches etc.
  • Go again? Yes.

Visited on: 12th May 2018


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My first cruffin

Today I had my first cruffin. I’m a bit late to this trend as they’ve been around for a few years, but at least I’m all caught up now. I think this is the first portmanteau item I’ve tried (I’m discounting brunch as that’s not one particular thing).

Today’s cruffin came from The Cookie Jar and was a chocolate cruffin. Here are some photos for your delectation.

The cruffin was heavier than I expected and quite filling (which I appreciated as I was hungry). My cruffin-eating companions shared one between two, I think they were already aware of the filling nature of the cruffin.

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience, and kudos to the Cookie Jar for going to the trouble of making them (apparently it takes three days and so they only sell them on a Saturday), but I’m afraid I would still choose a croissant or a muffin over a cruffin. Sorry cruffin.


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My new top five

I have to admit I’ve been a bit slack with updating my top five cafes, but a few days ago I have updated the list to show my current top five places to drink rooibos tea.

Teashop by the canal

Tea and cake at The teashop by the canal

For a long time, my top five has displayed as:

  1. The teashop by the canal
  2. Delicious…
  3. Ladurée
  4. The Ritz
  5. Sweet Tooth Cupcakery

This list is out of date for two reasons. Firstly, it was made before I started drinking rooibos tea, and secondly, two of the cafes have now closed. Sadly, Sweet Tooth Cupcakery and Delicious… are no more.

One of the reasons I haven’t updated the list before now is that it’s so hard to choose. Especially when my favourite places change depending on what I’m looking for from my tea. Do I want somewhere convenient? Somewhere that’s good to write? Somewhere that’s good for meeting friends? I also don’t travel as much as I used to and tend to revisit the same places more often than before.

My new top five are:

  1. Nibsy’s
  2. Siblings Home
  3. Picnic
  4. Reefside Kiosk
  5. North Tea Power

Here’s a little explainer as to why they made the top five (please imagine the kind of chirpy music that you get with a music video countdown).

Nibsy's tea

Pot of rooibos tea and the marvellous chocolate brownie in Nibsy’s.

Nibsy’s It’s got rooibos tea in a pot and excellent cake with very friendly staff, as well as a mix of normal tables and chairs and low tables and armchairs. It also has a toilet, which can be crucial if you’re drinking lots of tea.

Siblings Home Loose leaf rooibos in a pot, good food and a lovely environment. And a toilet. I especially like that it’s got lots of plants.

Picnic Rooibos tea in a cup (but it always comes with a little caramelised biscuit). Great soup with generous amounts of bread, brunch at the weekends, salads and cake.

Reefside Kiosk The photos in my review don’t do the views from the pier justice. It was very calming and a cup of hot tea when we’d been walking was just what was needed. Plus it sells ice cream.

North Tea Power The only place I’ve ever been to that sells tea latte. Genius.

Don’t forget, if you have any other suggestions of places to try, let me know and I’ll add them to the wish list.

 

 


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The Look Out Cafe Bar

World of Boats, Heol Porth Teigr, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF10 4GA.

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View of Cardiff Bay from our table at The Look Out Cafe Bar.

I have to admit we weren’t planning on going here, we just got a bit confused about the bus route round the bay and ended up getting off next to World of Boats. World of Boats is in a lovely position next to the bay (as befits an exhibition about boats) and the cafe has beautiful views across the water.

The Look Out Cafe Bar had dotty tablecloths, floral arrangements, a little dog pottering around and tea that came in a teapot. It was nice. R and I enjoyed a nice chat and some tea drinking and decided that although we hadn’t planned to, we would have a look round World of Boats.

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My pot of decaf tea and R’s glass of peppermint tea at The Look Out Cafe Bar.

Things were all going swimmingly, until the little dog (small and white with fetching brown patches) pottered over to the table next to us, cocked a leg, and peed on the floor. Once we told the staff it was all cleaned up very promptly, but we didn’t stay in the cafe for very long after that.

Instead, we paid our £5 each and went through into the exhibition space. World of Boats was not, as I had thought, a euphemism for a lot of boats. It was a small exhibition of boats from around the world (which is what R thought it would be). And very interesting and enjoyable it was too. There was even a section where you could try out semaphore.

  • Teapot? Yes, for the decaf tea.
  • Leaf tea? No, tea bag tea.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.25 for each tea and £5 each to go into World of Boats.
  • Cake? Yes and I think they had savoury food too.
  • Go again? Unfortunately not.

Visited on: Monday 27th March 2017


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Wally’s Kaffehaus

Wally’s Delicatessen, 38-46 Royal Arcade, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 1AE.

Visited on: Sunday 26th March 2017

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Tea and teapots at Wally’s Kaffehaus (I was trying to illustrate the different sizes of pots, but apparently I’ve failed miserably as the perspective makes them seem roughly the same size).

R and I were visiting Cardiff and wanted somewhere to go for a nice cafe lunch. We came across Wally’s Kaffehaus in one of the arcades and decided to give it a try. Well, to be fair, we came across Wally’s Delicatessen and I saw the sign in the window for the Kaffehaus upstairs and we looked at the menu and decided to try it.

It only occurs to me now that once again I picked somewhere with coffee in the name, but luckily Wally’s Kaffehaus bucked the trend and also served good tea.

I had a most marvellous rooibos tea and R had Japanese Sencha. He even ordered a large pot (that the waiter said was big enough for two) because he really wanted a lot of peppermint tea. The tea was loose leaf and rather nice. I hadn’t read the menu properly and asked for milk with mine, only to find that it was delicately spiced and fruity and didn’t need milk. Most refreshing.

The food was really good. Wally’s Kaffehaus is a Viennese Kaffehaus and has lots of Austrian food. R had a sausage mixed platter (three different sausages with mustard, curry ketchup and rye bread) and I had a Styria open sandwich with the most ham in one sandwich I have ever had. It also came with cheese, pickles and mustard on rye bread and a side of delicious potato salad (all the more impressive as I don’t particularly like potato salad).

A most satisfying lunch and tea experience, with the added bonus of looking out onto the arcade of shops below. Worth a visit if you’re ever in Cardiff.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Loose leaf tea and a teapot shaped saucer thing to put your infuser basket on once the tea was the desired strength.
  • Milk jug? Yes (not that I needed it).
  • Price? £2.10 for my small pot of tea, £3.50 for the big one, £5.95 for the sausage platter and £6.75 for the sandwich.
  • Cake? Yes and sandwiches and hot food and nice looking biscuits. I really wanted some cake, but that sandwich was quite filling.
  • Go again? Yes, I had serious food jealousy the whole time we were there and now I want to go back try everything else on the menu (including the cake).