Tea for you and me

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


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Espresso Cafe

Harvey Nichols, The Mailbox, 31/32 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RE.   (View on map)

The wall of Harvey Nichols tea related items behind my chair. Note the cups and saucers with the photos on.

I wanted some good tea and we were heading to The Mailbox for lunch anyway, so trying the Espresso Cafe inside Harvey Nichols seemed like the best way of combining the two. It was much smaller than expected and quite busy but we managed to get a table for four and then added more chairs as more people arrived.

There was a range of tea on the menu – the usual suspects plus a Lemon Verbeena – and between us we sampled Earl Grey, Darjeeling and English Breakfast. It was teabag tea, but they were Harvey Nichols teabags so I feel that makes them more exciting. The cups had black and white photos of glamorous people on – the majority of cups had some scantily clad ladies in bikinis with surf boards.

A special view of the table before we poured the tea out just so I can show you how carefully the waiter arranged everything. Note the slightly lifted pot lids (I'm not sure why this was done, but I like that they were all the same - it implies a purpose).

The teapots were metal but they were placed in a precise manner with each lid slightly off.  I have been asked to note that the teapots did not drip, but that the milk jugs did. HR also complained that the handles of the cups were so small you burned your fingers.The cutlery was also very neatly presented and was a nice quality – Arthur Price (yes, I’m afraid I am the kind of person that checks the cutlery when I go out to drink tea).

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but a Harvey Nicholls teabag.
Milk jug? Yes, a tiny milk jug each.
Price? £2.60 – a bit steep for Birmingham but I was in Harvey Nicholls, so what do you expect.
Cake? I seem to remember some cake somewhere, but I couldn’t tell you what it was. There was a full menu and you could have a meal if you wanted one.
Go again? Yes, I’ve had trouble finding good tea in Birmingham and so this is now my default tea place if I go there again.

The table once the tea was poured.

 


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Any tips for Birmingham?

It may be a bit late, but I’m heading to Birmingham today and wondered if anyone had any suggestions for where to drink good tea? I’ve had mixed results with finding tea in Birmingham previously. Druckers was good but Cafe Bebo was really not, though they have the dubious honour of being one of the first posts on the blog.

Let me know with a comment on this post or by sticking something on the form here.

Here’s to hoping for good tea today! And good tea for all of you too.


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Cafe Bebo, Druckers and Delicious…

Yesterday we were in Birmingham after a night out and we set out to have a fry up for breakfast. I haven’t been to Birmingham that often, but we had seen a cafe called Cafe Bebo the night before and thought it looked worth investigating. As we ordered our food and tea I saw a notice that it was owned by the Gormet Sandwich and Coffee Company and that was my first inkling that this was not going to be the best tea in the world. Why can’t someone invent a cafe that does good coffee and good tea?

The tea was terrible, with a nasty metallic aftertaste. I didn’t finish mine, which is most unheard of for me. I know this blog is about tea, but I wouldn’t recommend the fry up either. After we ordered we realised there was no cooker, so the whole thing was constructed with two microwaves and a panini grill. Our poached eggs came ready poached out of little plastic pots with plastic covers. Now we knew why they were poached and not fried. Maybe the coffee here is good, but I wouldn’t bother with the tea or English breakfast.

Cafe Bebo
Teapot? No such luck. Big mug and a saucer.
Leaf tea? No, Drury tea bag. I’ve had these before and they normally taste fine. Not here though.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £10 for two teas and two big English breakfasts.
Cake? Didn’t look.
Go again? Not even if you paid me.

Luckily, we were with someone who did know Birmingham and who led us to a branch of a cafe chain called Druckers. This was inside the Bull Ring shopping centre, so I was sceptical at first, but I needed have worried. My tea came in a pot, and the cake selection was amazing. I have never seen so many varieties that I wanted to eat. I’m as picky about my cake as I am about my tea, but here was a selection that all looked good enough to eat. Black Forest Gateux, carrot cake, Baumkuchen, chocolate eclairs, apple cake, chocolate cake, pain au raisin, more than I can remember. Even cakes that I know I don’t like looked good in this place. And the savoury croissants smelled gorgeous. This cafe more than made up for our earlier trauma, my only problem was that I couldn’t choose which cake to have and ended up having none!

Druckers Vienna Patisserie
Teapot? Yes, little metal one and a cup and saucer.
Leaf tea? No, usual selection of Twinings teabags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.60 for ‘speciality tea’, £1.50 for English Breakfast.
Cake? So much and it all looked so good. The carrot cake got the thumbs up from my friend.
Go again? Yes, I’m considering going back to Birmingham just for the cake here.

This morning I set out for my favourite cafe and I wasn’t disappointed. Delicious… is a small cafe that has the most relaxed atmosphere I’ve ever experienced when drinking tea outside of a home. The tea is smooth and lovely and the cakes are homemade by the owner every morning, including a gluten free variety. I try to go every week and every time I leave feeling refreshed.

Delicious…
10, Prospect St, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire RG4 8JG
0118 947 7411

Teapot? Yes, white china and big enough for 3 and a half cups. Matching cup and saucer.
Leaf tea? No, but fairtrade teabag.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? A lovely £1.50 for a whole pot.
Cake? Yes, tasty and homemade. Scones, salads, sandwiches and afternoon tea available as well.
Go again? At least once a week.