Tea for you and me

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

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Hungerford Arcade, 26 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF   01488 683701   (View on map)

A view of the rafters in Rafters cafe in Hungerford Arcade

D and I were in Hungerford and looking for somewhere to have tea that I hadn’t been before, she suggested the cafe at the top of Hungerford Arcade. The cafe is called Rafters because you can see all the rafters as you are sitting in the apex of the shop. Hungerford Arcade is much bigger inside than it appears on the outside and every spare inch of space is given over to selling antiques, even the displays in the cafe are for sale.

Rafters was busy when we went in, always a good sign, and it took me a while to choose my lunch as the sandwiches, salads and pies on offer all looked good. I went for the soup in the end. D went up to inspect the cakes more closely before making her decision and said the scones looked so good she was going to have a cream tea, but with coffee instead of tea.

The staff called this a ‘cream coffee’ and though that makes logical sense, it still seems like a strange term to me. But then R did used to think that a ‘cream tea’ was tea with cream on the top, like some Frankenstein version of hot chocolate and when we ordered him an actual cream tea was disappointed that he’d already experienced it. He wasn’t disappointed for long though, as a cream tea is still a good thing.

Soup, tea and D's 'cream coffee' at Rafters

Anyway, my generous portion of soup arrived with a warmed half brown baguette and it was very tasty. D’s cream coffee arrived with a warm homemade scone, clotted cream, strawberry jam, butter and a sliced strawberry. And a filter coffee. My Earl Grey tea was a Twinings tea bag affair and there was a proper milk jug. D saved me some scone as she said the strawberry jam was very good and I had to try it – she was right, it was good. Tasting of strawberry instead of jam, an amazingly strawberry strawberry jam.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but Twinings teabag.
Milk jug? Yup, one for D and I to share that was actually big enough for both of us to take milk. Hurrah!
Price? £2.20 for the Earl Grey, £4.75 for the soup, £5.25 for the cream tea (or coffee).
Cake? Yes.
Go again? Yes.



71-72 Burlington Arcade, London, W1J 0QX   0207 491 9155

Macaroons at Laduree

Macaroons at Laduree

There are four of us (E, H and N) who meet up regularly to have afternoon tea. Ladurée was our stop for tea on the way to the Ritz. H and I had read about it in various things, it was listed in Vogue as one of the best places to go in London for tea and macaroons.

The Burlington Arcade is full of very expensive jewellery shops and so covering the shop in gold doesn’t seem so pretentious, more just trying to fit in. The whole shop is tiny, about the size of a train buffet car. The tables and chairs only appear in good weather and are outside the shop, but you can get take away tea at other times.

Vogue recommended the Marie Antoinette tea but they didn’t have that listed on the menu, so I chose ‘Thé Mélange Spécial: Ladurée blend tea scented with orange, rose, vanilla and cinammon’. It was lightly scented and delicate and perfect. E let me taste her Earl Grey and it was very delicate and smooth.

Tea at Laduree

Tea at Laduree

We bought macaroons to take away so we didn’t spoil our trip to the Ritz. If you can afford it they come in thick gold embossed boxes, or in a paper bag if you’re me. I’ve eaten macaroons before – almond lumpy things that normally burn on the bottom but still taste good. These macaroons were something else – smooth and heavenly and definitely worth paying £1.25 each. I had Red Fruits flavour but you could choose from lots more, including orange-blossom, chocolate, raspberry, vanilla, coffee, liquorice and lemon.

And it’s not just Vogue that thinks they are the place to be, while we were there David Walliams had a pot of tea too.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Yes, leaf tea in a muslin tea bag.
Milk jug? No! This is French tea!
Price? £2.85 per pot and worth every penny.
Cake? Macaroons in all the colours of the rainbow.
Go again? Tomorrow if I could afford it.