Tea for you and me

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

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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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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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Le Valentin

30-32 Passage Jouffroy, 75009, Paris, France

Visited on: Thursday 22nd October 2015

2015-10-22b Le Valentin cakes

A view of the cake counter at Le Valentin.

Another Lonely Planet recommendation, I’d been looking forward to going to a proper French patisserie the whole time we’d been in Paris. Le Valentin, which is situated in a covered shopping arcade, did not disappoint.

2015-10-22b Le Valentin table

Chocolate eclair, chocolate cake, fancy sugar sticks and pots of tea.

The waitress seated us and then came to take our order. R only wanted tea, but the waitress and I managed to persuade him to try a chocolate eclair as well. I asked for something that was chocolate and the waitress pointed out a particular cake in the cabinet. It had a special name, but I’m afraid I couldn’t quite catch it.

The tea was loose leaf and came in metal teapots. R had chosen a sencha green tea and I had chosen rooibos, neither came with milk and I didn’t ask for milk as I felt I should try it without. In the end, that turned out to be a good idea as the cake was very rich and the tea was more refreshing without milk.


2015-10-22b Le Valentin tea

My glowing rooibos tea.

Each of us were served a fancy sugar stick with the tea – a wooden stick with crystallised sugar on it. Neither of us take sugar with our tea but as they were so fancy I folded a napkin around them and took them home with me to give to someone who did take sugar in their tea. R found this highly amusing.

R’s chocolate eclair was light and not too heavy on the cream. My chocolate thing was rich but not cloying and I especially appreciated the little piece of silver on the top of it. The tea was good too.


2015-10-22b Le Valentin cake

My chocolate cake thing in all its shiny glory.

2015-10-22b Le Valentin eaten cake

The cake and mousse interior of my chocolate cake thing.

We were sat next to the cake counter, so could see what everyone else was ordering and I enjoyed watching everyone come and go. Good tea, great cake and a nice experience overall.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Yes. Not only that, there was a very wide choice of tea on their tea menu.
  • Milk jug? No, but neither needed milk.
  • Price? €5.10 for the rooibos tea, €5.50 (I think) for R’s sencha tea, €4.40 for the eclair (eat in price) and around €6 for the chocolate deliciousness that I had (eat in price).
  • Cake? Yes! And lots of it. Plus pastries, breads, savoury tarts and pies.
  • Go again? Yes.

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Siblings Home

16 Hemdean Road, Caversham, Reading, RG4 7SX.

Visited on: Sunday 20th September 2015

Tea and knitting at Siblings Home

Our tea, knitting, spinning and cakes at Siblings Home.

Siblings Home middle room

The middle room at Siblings Home.

Siblings Home opened in February 2015 and despite often walking around this area, I didn’t know it existed until someone at Outcasts mentioned it to me. Once I heard about it, and once everyone else there who hadn’t been had heard about it too, we decided we needed to visit. And so the monthly ‘Knit brunch’ session (every third Sunday) was moved to Siblings Home, so that we could all experience it.

Brownie and tea at Siblings home

Brownie, caramel tart and pot of rooibos for two at Siblings Home.

I thoroughly enjoyed being at Siblings Home. They sell homewares and it makes for a homely feel. There was loose leaf rooibos (hurrah!) and you could have it in a pot for one, or two or even three, with it being cheaper to share a pot. Some cafes are sneaky and offer you a big pot (that’s sometimes not even especially big) with no discount.

Back room at Siblings Home

Some more things for sale in the little room at the back at Siblings Home.

I had a pot of rooibos tea and held off the cakes until later on, as I had eaten breakfast relatively recently. When I did head for the cake, I went for the chocolate brownie. Apparently I’ve lost my ability to make a varied choice when it comes to cakes. I do apologise if this is making the blog posts less interesting.

It might help to know that the brownie was very good, with chunks of chocolate and raisins in it. The raisins added an extra dimension to the brownie and left me wondering why I’d never come across the combination before. Forget chocolate covered raisins, this was chocolate brownie covered raisins.

We all had such a good time eating and drinking our way through the menu (between us we managed to sample every cake they had and all reported excellent results) that two of us stayed longer than our knitting session and had lunch there too.

We moved to a different table for lunch, because it had turned sunny and we wanted one near a window. There are three rooms in Siblings Home and each has a different feel to it. When you go, make sure you have a look round all the space before you pick a table. When you go the time after that, pick a different table and enjoy the difference.

Siblings Home

View of where we sat for lunch at Siblings Home.

Door view at Siblings Home

View out of the door at Siblings Home (I got a bit snap happy at Siblings Home, can you tell?).

Lunch at Siblings Home

Piadinas for lunch at Siblings Home.

Lunch was a toasted Piadina (flatbread) with Spanish chorizo, Jarlsberg and mushrooms inside. It was very tasty, though not very big. As a light lunch after a chocolate brownie, it did very well.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Yes.
  • Milk jug? Yes, though technically it was a little glass bottle for the milk. Having glass bottles for the milk is definitely the current trend in cafes. There are a few I’ve been to recently that do this.
  • Price? £2.30 for pot of tea for one, £3.50 for pot of tea for two, £5.20 for pot of tea for four. I haven’t made a note of how much the brownie was but I think it was £2 something.
  • Cake? Yes, four different types of cake. Between us I think we had one of everything: chocolate brownie, cheesecake, caramel tart and pistachio topped chocolate brownie. I’ve been back recently and the cake was different, so I think they change the cake offered.
  • Go again? I already have and I plan to go again soon.

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Cafe W, Reading

Waterstones, 12 Holy Brook Mall, The Oracle, Reading, RG1 2AQ.

Visited on: Saturday 29th August 2015

View of Costa at Waterstones Oracle

A fuzzy photo (sorry) of what the Costa Coffee in this Waterstones used to look like.

View of the inside of Cafe W

View of what the new Cafe W looks like. The plant pots on the tables are a nice touch.

So, here we are. Cafe W. So new it’s not listed on the Cafe W page on the Waterstones website yet. It was advertised as opening yesterday, but when I turned up yesterday afternoon there were no tables or chairs – instead people were running round unpacking things and being trained on how to use the coffee machine. I came again today and low and behold: a new cafe.

Not everything was up and running yet. There were paper cups because there were problems with the dishwasher (apparently it ‘blew up’), but as it’s the first day and things aren’t yet ship shape, all the hot drinks were discounted to £1. Fair enough.

Most impressively, they have a selection of loose leaf tea that includes rooibos. I tasted some of the chocolate cake that was in tasting chunks on a plate on the counter and it was a good strong flavour. I ordered some (instead of a chocolate brownie) on the strength of the taste and the recommendation of the lady behind the counter. It was nice, but very soggy – one of those cakes that are designed to be gooey and pudding like. I wasn’t that keen. I’ll try the chocolate brownie next time.

Tea and cake at Cafe W

Rooibos tea, milk in a paper cup and a generous slice of chocolate cake at Cafe W.

There are less tables in here than there used to be when it was Costa. Other changes include the walls now being Waterstones green and the tables being a lighter wood. Overall it feels much brighter. The staff were friendly and chatty and I’d be interested to come back again when they’re more established.

  • Teapot? No. But perhaps there will be teapots once the dishwasher is up and running?
  • Leaf tea? Yes, Suki loose leaf tea.
  • Milk jug? No, but milk was provided in another paper cup so I could add my own and the lady serving me apologised for the lack of jug, so I’m guessing there will be a jug when the dishwasher is sorted.
  • Price? £1 for the rooibos tea (reduced from £1.80) and £2.50 for the chocolate cake.
  • Cake? Yes, chocolate cake, carrot cake, croissants, chocolate brownie and some sort of square traybake with jam.
  • Go again? Yes. This isn’t my favourite cafe in Reading, mainly because though there are windows the windows look out into the corridor of the Oracle shopping centre and so there’s no natural light, but I will come back again because I like the feel of the place and because they have loose leaf tea. Also, if it’s the same as the Costa before it, it’s a useful cafe if you need to get some work/tea drinking done after 6pm (as the Oracle stays open to 8pm every weekday).

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Glutton and Glee

6 Tunsgate, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3QT   (View on map)

Hot cross buns and cushions with stars on at Glutton and Glee

It’s almost Easter. I like hot cross buns and A likes hot cross buns. We wanted somewhere in Guildford that we could drink tea and eat hot cross buns. We asked in four likely cafes and found no hot cross buns, so we gave up on the hot cross bun quest and headed to the castle instead. On the way to the castle we spotted Glutton and Glee, it looked so cheerful inside that we decided to go there afterwards. Lo and behold, when we turned up an hour or so later we found that they had loose leaf tea and hot cross buns.

They had tasty looking salads and cakes, as well as a good range of tea. Upstairs was a bench with bright cushions that reminded me of Chococo and the seaside. A had an apple, pear and ginger juice that was light and tasted of summer. I had some smooth Cornish Earl Grey tea. We both had a hot cross bun. An excellent chance find of a cafe that we’ve already planned to go to again.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Yes, from the Rare Tea Company.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2.25 for the tea, £2.95 for the juice, £1.95 for the hot cross bun.
Cake? Yes and cupcakes, pastries, hot cross buns (hurrah!), salads, tart, jacket potatoes, sandwiches. They also sell tea, jams, biscuits, oils and cookie mix.
Go again? Yes, next time I’d like to try the salads as well.

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Newsurf Sands Cafe

Newgale, Pembrokeshire, Wales, SA62 6AS.   01437 729222   (View on map)

This photo shows you about half of Newgale beach. It's a big beach.

I have decided to start this post with a lovely photo of the seaside, just to make those of you not near the sea jealous. Though actually, all it seems to have done is make me sad I am no longer near the sea. Newgale is a great big beach that is good for surfing (so I hear, never been surfing) and comes with the added bonus of a cafe.

The cafe was warm and light with windows on three sides to give you the best view of the sky. There are big banks of stones at the edge of the beach so we couldn’t see the sea from where we were, but the sky had that quality that sky only gets near the sea so it still felt special.

Tea and hot chocolate at Newsurf Sands Cafe.

We had gone for tea and lunch, but when we spotted the cake counter decided that we should probably test the cake as well. To begin with, we just had lunch and hot drinks. I went for the brie and bacon toasted sandwich with a pot of Teapigs ‘everday brew’. B went for the chicken red pesto sandwich and hot chocolate. EA had the scrambled egg with toast.

The sandwiches were very good, thick and full of filling and with nice leaves on the side. I am partial to a brie and bacon sandwich and this has to be one of the best. The tea was a nice blend and there was lots in the pot so I was happy. B said that her sandwich was also very good and EA ate all of the scrambled egg with toast so we can assume that was good too.

Sandwiches with leaves and tortilla chips on the side and a portion of scrambled egg with toast on the side.

There were a few good looking cakes in the chiller cabinet but we eventually decided on a chocolate brownie for me and a vanilla sponge for B. When ordering, I was asked if I wanted the brownie warmed – I did. It was hot and chocolatey and just the right size. B’s vanilla cake was light and not too sweet and EA enjoyed it as well.

EA is not quite big enough to use a fork yet so ate the cake by hand and seemed to enjoy it all the more for doing so. I wonder how much we miss about the texture of a cake by eating it with a fork? Perhaps all of my reviews of cake from now on should include me trying to pick it up with my fingers and seeing what happens? Does food taste different if you have felt it first? Does food designed to be eaten with your fingers – chips, biscuits, chocolate, pasties – taste extra good in the first place? Or taste extra good because you’ve felt it? I imagine it’s probably because there’s more fat in it in order to make it solid enough to pick up, but I’d like to do a blind taste test with forks versus fingers to be sure.

Vanilla cake and warmed chocolate brownie. I especially liked the icing sugar dusting.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but it was Teapigs tea.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2 for a big pot of tea, £2.60 for hot chocolate, £4.75 for sandwiches, £3.90 for scrambled egg on toast, £3 for cake, £2 for brownie.
Cake? Cake, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, brownies, burgers, milkshakes, ice cream, breakfast, salads.
Go again? Yes – there was tea in a pot, melted cheese, good cake and the sea. What’s not to love?


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Palmers Cafe

Reading Museum, The Town Hall, Blagrave Street, Reading, RG1 1QH.   (View on map)

Fun tea related museum objects in Palmers Cafe - note the stuff on the wall as well as the amazingly brilliant Tea Tricycle.

There used to be a cafe inside Reading Musuem called ‘The Biscuit Tin’ that I always meant to post about but never got round to. I realised I’d missed my chance when they put up a sign saying it was closing and a new one would be opening, but I have managed to go and visit the new one, so perhaps all is forgiven. In keeping with the biscuit theme (Reading was the home of the famous Huntley & Palmers biscuit company) the new cafe is called ‘Palmers Cafe‘.

The new Palmers Cafe has the same food ordering and serving area, but a new seating area has been created in what used to be the area for temporary exhibitions. It’s really welcoming and friendly and makes you feel like the café is more a part of the museum than the old café. I liked it a lot.

I asked for two teas, the man serving asked if we wanted ‘tea for two’ instead. We said yes, but then a tiny teapot was put on the tray. When I questioned that this was meant to be tea for two, he explained he meant one pot between two as you can get over a cup each out of the pot. I was a bit confused and was also thinking that one cup each wasn’t enough, but agreed anyway. It turned out that he was being immensely helpful, as we hadn’t realised that the museum and therefore the café was due to shut in 15 minutes so just over a cup each was all that was really needed or we had time for.

The pot of tea for one for two at Palmers Cafe.

We spent a happy 15 minutes drinking the tea, chatting about whether or not ‘Palmers Cafe’ needed an apostrophe and looking at the Tea Tricycle.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.50 for a pot of tea.
Cake? Cake, traybakes, ice cream and – on the day we went – posset. I’m not sure what posset is, but I love that they sell it. If you want hot food you can get it between 12 noon and 2pm. They have sandwiches and snacks 10am – 3pm.
Go again? Definitely. The tea is very reasonably priced and the atmosphere in the seating area was very peaceful. They also had a mix of seating which I like in a cafe – sofas, armchairs or chairs. And where else are you going to see a Tea Tricycle?


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Jam Factory

Hollybush Row, 27 Park End Street, Oxford, OX1 1HU.   (View on map)

My tea at the Jam Factory.

The Jam Factory is a restaurant and bar that has art classes and things as well. The art on the wall near the table where we sat was very familiar as I’d previously seen it at Jelly so the Jam Factory immediately felt like home (maybe the artists only exhibit in places named after food?). Plus they had a selection of indoor trees growing and I have always wanted to grow a tree inside my house.

The Jam Factory was specifically recommended as a place to go where you could get tea or beer, so some of us had tea and some had beer and some went even further and had coffee. I stuck to tea, but though there was a choice of loose leaf (including Rooibos and green tea) there was no Earl Grey. I went for Darjeeling and a slice of banana cake instead. The seven of us placed our orders and a combination of tea, coffee, beer, cake and caramel shortbread arrived at our table. There was banana cake, but not for me. In the end I went and asked for it and they gave me an extra large slice as an apology. The tea was nice, but there wasn’t enough of it (just a cup rather than a pot) but the cake was good.

Tea and my apology sized banana cake.

Teapot? No. The big jars of loose leaf tea behind bar looked promising, but then it went into a large teabag anyway.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Yes, a little one each.
Price? £2 for a cup of tea, £2.50 for a slice of banana cake.
Cake? Yes – and also flapjacks, museli bars and shortbread.
Go again? I’d quite like to try going here for a meal, but maybe not for the tea.


The Tea Box

7 Paradise Road, Richmond, Surrey, London, TW9 1RX.   (View on map)

A green throne and grand furnishings at The Tea Box.

Before I go anywhere new I tend to do a quick search online to see if there are any particular cafes or tea rooms that seem like the kind of place I should investigate further. When I was doing my preliminary searching for Richmond only one place stood out and that was The Tea Box. Their website doesn’t give much away (apart from their strap line, ‘About to cause a stir…’) but it wasn’t too far from where I was meant to be going so I thought I’d give it a try.

It looked good from the outside and inside I was happily surprised by the furniture – all old style wood chairs and dark tables, an opulent tea drinking palace. I plumped for a gold table with green thrones, which was very comfortable. The people at the table next to me had a candelabra! Anyway, the tea menu (not pictured here, that’s the tea-you-can-buy-loose-and-take-away menu) had the largest selection of tea I’ve seen outside of Tea Smith.There was also an events listing on the table – adult storytelling, jazz evenings, knit nights…

I went for ‘Indian Tea’ as I wanted something to wake me up. There was also a wide ranging selection of cake, including half a dozen flavoured scones, and I went for the dark ginger cake.

Tea, cake and hourglasses at The Tea Box.

The tea came with three hourglasses so that I could time the strength of my tea perfectly, and advice on which one hourglass I should be watching. The tea strainer lifted out completely and had it’s own saucer so that the brew didn’t get any stronger. The cake was very rich and the tea very strong – just what I needed at this point in the day.

My only niggle was the note in the menu saying they that don’t do refills so please don’t ask – and the waiter underlined this by taking away my pot once it was empty, but before I’d finished my last cup. Considering that the tea here was done so well and there was such an emphasis on loose leaf, it seems odd that they wouldn’t honour the tradition of asking for some more hot water for the pot. Unless it’s not so common now? Is this something that people still do? Obviously, having fresh tea leaves in your pot means you should pay for a fresh pot, but just adding hot water on your old leaves tends to be free. Answers on a postcard, please.

Anyway, overall a very enjoyable trip and one that I will be making again sometime soon if I can.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Yes, there’s only loose leaf in here!
Milk jug? Of course.
Price? About £3 for the tea and around £2.50 for the cake.
Cake? Cakes, flavoured scones, meals, sandwiches, hot tea, cold tea, hot fruit punch, lots and lots of choice. Also teapots, tea cups, tea strainers and tea ducks (such an astounding tea related item that I bought one for R for Christmas, it deserves a whole post).
Go again? Yes, yes and yes.