Tea for you and me

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


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Vegivores Natural Kitchen

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View from our table at Vegivores Natural Kitchen

I’d already been to Vegivores Natural Kitchen for an evening meal the week before (delicious nachos, pad thai and chocolate brownie) and wanted to come back in the daytime to try the tea as I’d spotted rooibos on the menu. S was happy to oblige as he wanted to try the brunch.

I fancied toast rather than cake so that’s what I ordered, along with rooibos tea, of course. S had smashed avocado on toast and rooibos tea. The tea came in a glass pot and was loose leaf. I had soya milk with mine (Vegivores is a vegan eatery so no cows milk here) and it was a very good cup of tea. My sourdough toast came in two huge slabs with delightfully tart raspberry jam. S had an equally big portion of avocado on toast which he said was very good.

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Loose leaf rooibos tea with sourdough toast and avocado on toast at Vegivores Natural Kitchen.

I really liked Vegivores, all the things I look for in a good place to drink tea are here: plants, lots of natural light, a toilet, comfortable seating, friendly staff, good choice of food, and loose leaf tea in a pot.

  • Teapot? Yes, a generously sized glass one. A minor niggle was that there was no saucer, so we had to balance our teaspoons on our teapots.
  • Leaf tea? Yes.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.95 for a pot of tea, £2.50 for toast and jam, £6.95 for smashed avocado on toast.
  • Cake? Yes, four different cakes, flapjack, croissants. Plus brunch at the weekend and if you go in the evening then lots of main meal choices too.
  • Go again? Already planning my next visit.

Vegivores Natural Kitchen: 41 St Martin’s Precinct, Church Street, Caversham, Reading, RG4 8BA.

Visited on: Saturday 16th November 2019


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Gardens of Caversham

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Light and bright Gardens of Caversham

It’s an odd name for a cafe with no outdoor space, but maybe the people who run it have the surname Gardens? It also doesn’t have any obvious signage so I’d gone past it a few times when it first opened before realising it was there. On the day I visited it had an A-board outside making it easier to spot.

It’s a bright, light space with tables in an L shape along the window and one wall, with a large counter that included a glass section holding lots of lovely looking things to eat. There were also uncovered brownies on the top of the counter. There were no prices on anything and no signs saying what the food was, but the staff were very friendly and willing to tell me what was what.

I asked which brownie I should go for and was recommended the salted caramel brownie. You pick up the food from the counter once you’ve paid. I had taken the brownie back to my table and was getting on with some writing when the friendly server came and switched it for one that he said was fresher, which I appreciated.

My salted caramel brownie had proper chunks of caramel in the bottom and was rich and indulgent (like all good brownies should be).  I had a mug of decaf tea as they didn’t have any redbush tea. It’s a shame the tea only comes in mugs (especially at £2.50 for teabag tea in a mug, which is a little expensive for Reading), but with sacks of coffee beans everywhere there is a focus on coffee rather than tea. I have been told (by people that drink coffee) that the coffee here is good.

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Salted caramel brownie, little milk bottle of soya milk and a mug of decaf tea at Gardens of Caversham

I would recommend Gardens of Caversham to anyone that likes coffee and wants somewhere quiet to contemplate things.

  • Teapot? No, just a plain mug with a little saucer to put the teabag on.
  • Leaf tea? No.
  • Milk jug? Yes, a little milk bottle.
  • Price? £2.50 for a mug of tea, £3.69 for the brownie.
  • Cake? Yes, three different brownies and other cake things. Also quiches and sausage rolls.
  • Go again? Maybe if I was going with someone who liked coffee or wanted somewhere quiet to sit and work. If it started serving redbush tea in a pot then I would definitely be back.

Gardens of Caversham: 15 Bridge Street, Caversham, Reading, RG4 8AF

Visited on: Wednesday 2nd October 2019


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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

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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