Tea for you and me

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


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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.
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Ancoats Coffee Co.

Unit 9, Royal Mills, 17 Redhill Street, Ancoats, M4 5BA

Visited on: 27th August 2016

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The inside/outside area at Ancoats Coffee Co.

I know, I know, going to drink tea somewhere that calls itself a coffee company is bound to end in trouble, but I was with people who wanted to drink coffee. And that’s fine, I used to drink coffee too (just not as much as I drank tea). Plus, the whole reason we were in Ancoats in the first place was that H had mentioned how good the pizza was at Rudy’s Pizza was and I wanted to try it (it was very, very good).

H had heard about Ancoats Coffee Co. and how it had good coffee. So off we went. It’s in a converted mill, with seating inside and seating inside/outside – outside the coffee shop but underneath a glass roof, in what would have been a courtyard in the mill.

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The cappuccinos and the biscuits.

We ordered our drinks: H had a decaf cappuccino (and wasn’t impressed when they charged an extra 50p for decaf without that being obviously listed on the menu or being warned about it first) and E had a normal cappuccino. I tried to have rooibos, but I think now rooibos tea has become so mainstream that Tetley sell it, it’s too mainstream for hipster Manchester – I couldn’t get rooibos in any of the places we went in during this visit. I ended up having red berry and hibiscus on the advice of the guy who served us. We also had two lavender and lemon biscuits – one for me and one for E and H to share.

The biscuit was delicious, sweet and light and with a lovely lemon icing. E and H said that their coffee was very good. My tea was, well, not really my cup of tea. It came in a tea pot, so that was good, but it also came with an empty carafe and a wine glass with honey on the inside. I don’t take sugar with my tea and wouldn’t have ordered a biscuit if I’d known that the tea would come with honey. Anyway, I tried it as it was. I quite like the idea of having the carafe to pour the tea into once the tea is strong enough, but the tea itself was quite bitter. You needed the honey to offset the bitterness. The issue with having the honey in the glass is that the first glass of tea is very sweet and the last glass of tea is not sweet at all. I didn’t finish it. It’s my own fault really, I know I don’t particularly like red berry style fruit teas, but I wanted a cup of tea.

Overall verdict? We liked the space and E and H liked their coffee, but we would have liked a little more information before ordering. I would have liked to know the tea would come with honey and H would have liked to know that having decaf coffee would be an extra 50p (H would have had a normal coffee if that had been explained).

  • Teapot? Yes, and a carafe too. First time I’ve ever been given both.
  • Leaf tea? Yes. Well, I suppose technically it wasn’t tea, but it was a loose infusion.
  • Milk jug? No milk with this beverage.
  • Price? £2.70 for the infusion/tea, £1.50 for the biscuit and £3.20 for the coffee (I think, not too sure of the coffee price as I wasn’t drinking it).
  • Cake? Yes and brownies and biscuits.
  • Go again? No. Not unless I was with people who really wanted coffee.


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Hugh’s War on Waste

Did you know that the takeaway paper cups you get from cafes can’t be recycled? I didn’t until a few months ago, when there were lots of articles in the news about it.

Turns out the articles I saw were triggered by the BBC programme Hugh’s War on Waste. It was on TV last night and in it Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall investigates how the takeaway cups can’t be recycled as the plastic lining can’t be easily separated from the paper. Plus the cups are made from virgin paper, which makes it even worse.

It’s worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it. The takeaway cups are referred to as coffee cups throughout, but we know you can get tea in them too and so it’s even more reason to take a leisurely break for proper tea in a proper pot with a proper cup and saucer. Or bring your own reusable cup.


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Reefside Kiosk

Boscombe Pier, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH5 1BN.

Visited on: 31st May 2016

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Dorset Tea from the Reefside Kiosk, Boscombe Pier. 

R and I walked from Bournemouth seafront to Boscombe Pier in the rain. It wasn’t particularly cold rain, but it was more than just drizzle and so by the time we arrived at the pier we were both in need of a cup of tea.

Ice cream with a flake, sea in the background.

Ice cream! With a flake! Next to the sea!

Reefside Kiosk is a kiosk at the entrance to Boscombe Pier. The kiosk had black tea, green tea or fruit tea, but unfortunately no rooibos or decaf. R was happy as he’s a fan of green tea and had a cup of that. I’m not a fan of fruit tea (it makes my teeth feel funny) and green tea has caffeine in. Reader, I wanted a cup of tea badly. I ordered the black tea. Then I moved across to the Reefside Ices window and ordered an ice cream (because we were at the seaside).

The tea came in a paper cup and was a Dorset Tea teabag. The milk came in little plastic pots. There was a wooden stick instead of a spoon. But wow, did that cup of tea taste good. Was it the fact it was caffeinated? Was it that it was a brand local to where we were? Was it that I drank it sat on a bench watching the rain fall on the sea but stayed dry as the benches on the pier are covered by a roof? Probably it was all of those things.

The ice cream helped too. My ice cream was Purbeck ice cream and I had a two scoops cone: one of honeycomb hash and one of chocolate. With a chocolate flake. It was very good.

Boscombe Pier, unlike Bournemouth Pier, is free to walk on and has no amusement arcades. When we were there they were installing mini golf (though this seemed a risky entertainment for a pier – how many golf balls were going to go in the sea?). There were also musical instruments that you could play and I had a go on all of them. They made lovely chiming noises.

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The view from our bench.

We didn’t go further than the pier, but Boscombe seemed much quieter than Bournemouth. It was very peaceful sitting on the pier and looking out over the sea, listening to the waves and watching the birds. The setting makes this one of my favourite places to drink tea so far. Thanks to the lady in Bournemouth’s tourist information office for suggesting that we walked down to Boscombe pier.

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The view of the Reefside Kiosk from the road. I took this after we’d eaten, notice that the ices section has now closed for the day.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? No, but it was a Dorset Tea teabag and we were in Dorset.
  • Milk jug? No, little plastic pots.
  • Price? £1.60 for a cup of tea. £3.60 for two scoop ice cream and an extra 30p for the flake (worth every penny).
  • Cake? No, but there were sweet crêpes, which looked amazing. Sadly I was too full to try one when we were there.
  • Go again? Yes.

 


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Farewell, Cafe W

I’ve been adding reviews to this blog for a number of years now and have seen a fair few cafes open and close in that time. One of these days I’ll manage to double check all of the reviews and note which ones are now shut.

The most recent one to close is Cafe W in the Oracle Waterstones, as the whole shop has shut down. There is another Waterstones in Reading, but that one doesn’t have a cafe.

In my review of Cafe W I said I’d like to go back when they were more established (and I wanted to see what their tea was like in a pot rather than in a paper cup). I’m sure that they must have got their crockery sorted a while back, but I’m afraid I didn’t make it back before they closed.

Other Waterstones have cafes and they’re also called Cafe W, so I could try one of those instead. The cake sold at the Reading Cafe W was supplied by Picnic, so you can still get the same cake in Reading.

It’s still a shame though. So long, Cafe W, thanks for all the rooibos tea.