Tea for you and me

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

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Gorvett and Stone

21 Duke Street, Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire, RG9 1UR   (View on map)

'Breakfast' drinking chocolate and a rose hip truffle at Gorvett and Stone.

Don’t all shout at once, but this isn’t a review of tea. I know, I know, this is a tea blog, but it wasn’t my fault, honest. I saw the listing of different types of tea in the window and so went into Gorvett and Stone to drink some tea. I should point out here that they make chocolate and the whole place smelt so invitingly of chocolate that I found myself asking what kind of drinking chocolate they would recommend. The lovely gentleman behind the counter explained the different types and I plumped for the ‘Breakfast’ blend. Oh, it was good. So good I’m throwing caution to the wind and sticking it on here – rules were made to be broken. And if that shocks you then cover your eyes now – before I can tell you that I take my Earl Grey with milk.

It was frothy and smooth with just a hint of the kick that comes with 70% cocoa, but none of the bitterness that you sometimes find in cheap dark chocolate. If you order a hot drink to drink in you also get to pick one of their lovely chocolates to have with it. I picked the rose hip truffle. It was a tiny mouthful of pleasure. And such a pretty tea cup. I will go back one day when I have more time and order the tea and then order the drinking chocolate afterwards (I was going to say I would just order the tea, but in my new confessional spirit I admit I will not be strong enough to resist the chocolate, best to have both).

Teapot? No, but then it wasn’t tea.
Leaf tea? Er, no.
Milk jug? Not applicable.
Price? £2.65 for the drinking chocolate. The tea was around £2 for a cup for one and £5/6 for a pot for two.
Cake? No, but lots of chocolate!
Go again? Yes.

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Maison Blanc, Henley on Thames

1 – 3 Duke Street, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1UR

Peppermint tea and Earl Grey tea at Maison Blanc

Maison Blanc is a relatively new addition to Henley and we hadn’t tried it yet so we headed there after lunch for some tea. I’d unfortunately had too much for lunch so decided to have peppermint tea (to aid digestion, don’t you know) and R had Earl Grey. They had the most amazing cakes and gateaux and it looked delicious but I was too full to try any and R isn’t that bothered about cake. I can’t understand how anyone can not be bothered about cake, but each to their own.

The tea was very nice and came in a teapot so we were happy. I’ll definitely be going back sometime soon to try some of the cake. There’s a good yarn shop a few doors down as well, if knitting’s your thing.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but Clipper tea bags which are my favourite.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.85 per pot.
Cake? Yes, and main meals.
Go again? Yes, I really want to try the cake.

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Henley Leisure Centre

Gillotts Lane, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1PA.

Tea at Henley Leisure Centre

Tea at Henley Leisure Centre

Henley Leisure Centre looks very new and shiny. It has a 25 metre swimming pool and has lane swimming on a Sunday morning, which is why I was there. I got to it through single track country roads past horses and churches and over a hump back bridge. Suddenly, in the midst of all this greenery and stereotypical countryside was a driveway and a car park with a new concrete building next to it. It actually fits in with it’s surroundings remarkably well. It also didn’t have a sign that I could see so I drove past it before realising it must be what I was looking for.

The cafe counter is the other half of the reception desk and is some sort of Starbucks concession. There is a choice of sofas, armchairs and tables and chairs. Overall the centre feels light and fresh and airy and it was a pleasant place to sit and drink tea in, even if the tea itself wasn’t so spectacular.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Big one that they hadn’t put out until I asked for it.
Price? £1.40.
Cake? A few muffins and breakfast cereals.
Go again? Yes.

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Regal Picturehouse

Regal Picturehouse, 2 Boroma Way, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2BZ

Tea at the Regal Picturehouse

Tea at the Regal Picturehouse

The Regal Picturehouse is a cinema that serves drinks and tea and coffee in the upstairs bar. The large bay window and comfy seats are a nice way to say say goodbye to the sunshine before heading inside the darkened cinemas. The daffodils help too. The cinema’s pretty good as well!

The tea is okay, I just like the fact this cinema serves me tea.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes, a big one on the counter and you help yourself.
Price? £1.50.
Cake? Sadly no, but it does have the best popcorn ever.
Go again? Yes, next time I go to see a film.

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Maison Brilliant

50 Bell St, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2BG

Maison Brilliant is a French cafe in Henley upon Thames which actually lists tea as one of the things it sells on it’s sign by the door. This is a good sign (that’s an intentionally bad joke) that the tea will actually be drinkable.

We had been here once before and the tea was amazing. We talked about it, I dreamt about it, and we went back to Henley just to drink the tea (and to see Quantum of Solace, but really that was just the hook I used to get BF to come along too). Last time I ordered Darjeeling and BF ordered Earl Grey French Blue and I was jealous as the French Blue was smooth and lucious. This time we both ordered Earl Grey French Blue.

It was smooth and lovely, but we only got one small pot between us that yielded a cup and some dregs each. When BF went to pay, he was charged £5 for the pot – £2.50 each. I would have contested this as the price on the menu was per pot, but Bond was almost ready to start so we left with me huffing in indignation. If you go, order two different teas as you get twice as much. This works in almost all cafes too: a pot of tea for two rarely gives the same amount of tea as two pots for one. Despite the shock of the price the tea was brilliant (see? I did it again). Maison Brilliant serves the celebrated French tea brand Mariage Freres and also sells it loose – though no Earl Grey French Blue left when we were there. My new tea dream is to go to the Mariage Freres cafe in Paris.

Teapot? China.
Leaf tea? Yes, in an infuser ball.
Milk jug? Yes and also the good lump sugar.
Price? £5.
Cake? They sell patisserie but at £4.95 we didn’t sample any.
Go again? Yes, but I’d order two varieties of tea to get my money’s worth.