Tea for you and me

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


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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This list is out of date for two reasons.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).

 

 


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Zooby’s

Units 4 & 5, Winter Garden, Surrey Street, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S1 1LH.

Visited on: Saturday 12th November 2016

 

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The view from our table, looking up into the plants and the arched glass roof.

The Winter Garden in Sheffield is an indoor garden, housed inside a huge arched glasshouse. It’s a nice place to be and, obviously, an even better place to be if there’s tea. Zooby’s is a cafe inside the Winter Garden, with some chairs and tables next to some of the planting.

After the disappointment of Manchester cafes not wanting to sell me rooibos (hibiscus being the ‘in’ thing), it was a welcome surprise to see that Zooby’s not only sold rooibos, it was listed on the menu as a separate category (instead of being lumped in with ‘selection of herbal teas’). I ordered a large cup for the very reasonable price of £1.70.

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My large rooibos tea at Zooby’s.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? No, but a very nice Clipper teabag.
  • Milk jug? No, but they added milk for you so none of those tiny plastic pots. Though the cups were takeaway cups (understandable in a garden cafe) and I unfortunately I didn’t have my re-usable cup with me.
  • Price? £1.70 for a large cup of rooibos tea, £1.60 for a large filter coffee and the bargain price of £1 for a small tea or small filter coffee.
  • Cake? Yes and flapjacks, crips and sandwiches.
  • Go again? Yes, it’s a lovely setting. Next time I’ll try and bring my re-usable cup.


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Sourced Market, Marylebone

68-72 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2SD.

Visited on: 24th October 2016.

 

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Rooibos tea in a pot at Sourced Market, with milk in a bottle and a glass of water. Apologies for forgetting to take a photo of the tea once it was poured out.

Oxford Street can be very busy, but if you go through the tiny gap into St Christopher’s Place and out the other side, you come to Sourced Market.

Sourced Market has two locations: St Pancras International and Marylebone. The Marylebone location is a two storey cafe and bar, which also has some expensive but lovely looking food and drink for sale. There’s seating upstairs and downstairs and though it looked busy from the outside, there were lots of spaces once you were inside. The upstairs has a cafe counter, a sandwich and deli counter, a juice bar and a hot food counter. Downstairs is the bar.

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Decaf Americano with hot milk on the side (in the trendy milk bottle) and a little glass of water.

I ordered at the cafe counter, but the drinks were brought over to us at our table. The little wooden boards worked well in such a busy place and I liked that everything came with a glass of water. Definitely somewhere I’ll come again when I’m next in this part of London.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? No, but rather tasty Brew Tea Co. rooibos teabags (there were two in my pot).
  • Milk jug? The oh-so-fashionable miniature milk bottle.
  • Price? £4.10 for a decaf Americano and a pot of rooibos tea. For central London, this is very good value.
  • Cake? Yes, and pastries. Also sandwiches and hot food.
  • Go again? Yes, it was a great place to escape Oxford Street and the rooibos was very smooth.


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Tipsy bean

18 Prospect Street, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire, RG4 8JB.

wp-1476990122244.jpgTipsy bean (great name) is a cafe/bar in Caversham, where the old Wordplay bookshop and toy shop used to be. It’s a long space with the bar along one side towards the back. The windows onto the street give light to the tables at the front, while the area near the bar is quite dark, but it feels nice and cosy rather than oppressive. The seating matches the change in light – with upholstered grey/cream chairs near the window and a long red leather bench opposite the bar. With dried flower bunches hanging above the bar, red Gerberas on the tables and jam jar style lamps, Tipsy bean has a welcoming feel.

The menu said that they had lots of tea and they certainly seem to – they had rooibos at least and quite a few other varieties (all in boxes on a high shelf at the back of the bar). I wanted to sample their cake, but unfortunately they’d run out.

My tea came in a mug, with a milk jug and a little plate with a sugar. It was a good mug of tea and I enjoyed my visit.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? No, but Waitrose rooibos teabags, which I’m quite partial to (Tick Tock and Clipper are my other favourites, just so you know).
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.
  • Cake? No (sob). But platters (smoked salmon, veggie, meat) and sandwiches and breakfast and nuts and nibbles.
  • Go again? Yes, both because I liked it and because I’d like to try the cake and the veggie platter.