Tea for you and me

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


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Minori Cafe, Ginza

There are two floors of food hall foodstuffs in the basement of Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo: fresh fish, bread, cakes, vegetables, strawberries (extremely expensive strawberries) and once you’ve looked round at all the foodstuff wonders your next stop is obviously to go and have a cup of tea.

If you want hot tea (not tea from the food hall that comes in a packet) you need to go to the ninth floor. There’s a number of places up there to eat and drink, along with a garden terrace and a smoking room. We opted for trying the Minori Cafe. There were windows along one side of the top floor where people sat and drank tea and ate food from the cafe but unfortunately they were all full so we sat at a table in the middle instead.

R had Beni-Fuki (our English menu described it as ‘Japan made tea’) and I had green bean and spinach rice milk. Both were available hot or iced, but we both went for the hot version as it was a grey rainy day and we wanted warming up.

My drink wasn’t strictly tea (okay, so it wasn’t tea at all) but it was really very tasty. A light sweet taste of green and the smoothness of the rice milk underneath. It wasn’t too sickly or too frothy. R said his tea was also good.

  • Teapot? No and sadly only take away cups.
  • Leaf tea? No.
  • Milk jug? No, but that’s because you don’t have milk with Japanese tea.
  • Price? 390 yen for the tea, 590 yen for the green bean and spinach rice milk.
  • Cake? I think it had small things, but I was so distracted by the rice milk I didn’t make a note of exactly what. Apologies.
  • Go again? Yes. This was a very good rice milk drink and I haven’t found it anywhere else.

Minori Cafe, 9F, Mitsukoshi Department Store, 4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, 104-0061. Visited on: Monday 4th March 2019.

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7 Flowers & Tea

I’d walked past this place a few times before everything aligned and it was open when I had time to go in. It was full when I arrived (always a good sign) but a couple were just leaving so I got a table quickly.

This place smells wonderful, by the way. It smells of (you guessed it) flowers and tea – but also of cake. It was warm and relaxing, with fake foliage on the wall behind me and real flowers in front of me. 7 Flowers & Tea is a florist as well as a tea room and you can buy bouquets or small arrangements in pots or even single stems of flowers.

KD and I were pleased when the menu turned out to be a long list of tea and then a long list of cake. I opted for sakura tea (Japanese cherry blossom), while KD had vanilla black tea followed by rose black tea. I had the ‘Egg hunt’ cake – a vegan sponge with yellow frosting and berries and KD had the ‘Mulled apple’. Both were good.

My tea came in a glass teapot, with a tea light underneath keeping the tea warm and a gold-rimmed glass cup in the shape of a flower. It glowed. A row of tables with glowing tea pots makes for a very cosy tea room. KD’s vanilla black tea came in a china pot, but her rose black tea came in a glowing glass one. Worth checking before you order what your tea comes in if you want a glowing tea experience.

Only minor downside (and it was a minor one) was that the lovely floral scent of the flowers in the shop made it was slightly difficult to taste the tea and cake properly, but it didn’t detract from the overall experience. The staff were very friendly and helpful, and everything was beautifully presented. I’ll definitely be going again.

  • Teapot? Yes, and a fancy glass one at that.
  • Leaf tea? Oh, yes.
  • Milk jug? Yes, for the tea that was suitable for having with milk. I got a pot of honey with mine, along with sweetener, brown sugar and white sugar. All options covered if you want something sweeter.
  • Price? £3.80 for the sakura tea, £2.99 for the cake (I think, it might have been £3.99).
  • Cake? Yes, long list of it on the menu including vegan and gluten free.
  • Go again? Yes. This was a lovely treat and I am keen to try different teas and different cakes.

 

7 Flowers & Tea: 4 Cross Street, Reading, RG1 1SN. Visited on Saturday 6th April 2019.


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Store Street Espresso

IMG_20181030_091837677_HDR.jpg

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.