Tea for you and me

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

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Store Street Espresso


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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Sourced Market, Marylebone

68-72 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2SD.

Visited on: 24th October 2016.



Rooibos tea in a pot at Sourced Market, with milk in a bottle and a glass of water. Apologies for forgetting to take a photo of the tea once it was poured out.

Oxford Street can be very busy, but if you go through the tiny gap into St Christopher’s Place and out the other side, you come to Sourced Market.

Sourced Market has two locations: St Pancras International and Marylebone. The Marylebone location is a two storey cafe and bar, which also has some expensive but lovely looking food and drink for sale. There’s seating upstairs and downstairs and though it looked busy from the outside, there were lots of spaces once you were inside. The upstairs has a cafe counter, a sandwich and deli counter, a juice bar and a hot food counter. Downstairs is the bar.


Decaf Americano with hot milk on the side (in the trendy milk bottle) and a little glass of water.

I ordered at the cafe counter, but the drinks were brought over to us at our table. The little wooden boards worked well in such a busy place and I liked that everything came with a glass of water. Definitely somewhere I’ll come again when I’m next in this part of London.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? No, but rather tasty Brew Tea Co. rooibos teabags (there were two in my pot).
  • Milk jug? The oh-so-fashionable miniature milk bottle.
  • Price? £4.10 for a decaf Americano and a pot of rooibos tea. For central London, this is very good value.
  • Cake? Yes, and pastries. Also sandwiches and hot food.
  • Go again? Yes, it was a great place to escape Oxford Street and the rooibos was very smooth.

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Urban Tea Rooms

19 Kingly Street, Soho, London, W1B 5PY.

Visited on: Saturday 13th June 2015

Urban Tea Rooms

The view from my sofa at Urban Tea Rooms.

This was a happy accident of a tea room find. I’d been in Liberty’s, intending to go there for tea, when I suddenly decided I didn’t feel like tea there after all and wanted to find somewhere new. I wandered towards Carnaby Street and found a handy map displayed on the wall showing all the different eateries in the area. The Urban Tea Rooms seemed an auspicious name, so off I went.

The Urban Tea Rooms seems to be a cafe and bar. I wish the UK had more places like this; it makes sense to me that you could start off with tea in the afternoon and let the day stretch into an evening celebration. As long as they would still sell me tea in the evening, of course.

I have to confess that I no longer buy caffeinated tea. I know, I’m letting the side down, but that’s how it is. I still have the same exacting standards – but they now apply to rooibos (AKA redbush) and decaf tea.

The salted caramel brownie was too tempting to resist and I paired it with a pot of organic rooibos. I know that chocolate has caffeine in it and I tried to give up chocolate as well, but I couldn’t do it. A side effect of giving up caffeinated drinks is my new obsession with chocolate related things, especially chocolate brownies. This was one of the best ones I’ve had, very rich, very sweet and a good gooey consistency.

Tea and brownie at Urban Tea Rooms

Rooibos and incredibly decadent salted caramel brownie at Urban Tea Rooms

Another customer (who was getting a takeaway coffee) recommended sitting on the sofa by the door and I took her advice. It was a squashy, comfortable place to sit and people watch, but with a teeny tiny table so you had somewhere to put your hot drinks and snacks. You might feel a bit hemmed in there if it gets busy, but at the time there weren’t many people in so it was lovely.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Yes, but in a tea bag – as in, they scoop in the loose leaf and put it in a tea bag. I can’t decide if this defeats the point of having loose leaf tea or not. I suppose you get better quality tea. And it tasted nice, so perhaps we’re okay after all.
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.80 for a pot of organic Redbush tea (one of the most expensive teas on the menu). £2.80 for the salted caramel brownie. £8.90 for an Earl Grey gin and tonic, if you’re that way inclined.
  • Cake? Yes. The divine salted caramel brownie, plus the normal Victoria Sponge and a carrot and walnut cake (I know, it should be coffee and walnut, but it was the second carrot and walnut cake I’d seen for sale in the last few weeks, so perhaps it was a new trend), scones, muffins, pastries. Also sandwiches and what might have been a stew.
  • Go again? Definitely.

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Another wish list addition

I’ve admired the living wall on the outside of the Athenaeum Hotel before, but never been inside for the afternoon tea.

A colleague recently told me she had been and that I should try it because the afternoon tea included toasted crumpets. Crumpets are great, so that was enough for me to add it to the wish list. If it’s not enough of a reason for you then maybe the fact that in 2012 the Tea Guild named it London’s Top Afternoon Tea will be?

If you’ve been or are planning to go, let me know how you find it.

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The Breakfast Club, Spitalfields

12 – 16 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, London, E1 7LS.   (View on map)

The cup is not really this small, it’s just that the pancakes are big.

Outside was grey but inside The Breakfast Club it was a bright, shiny morning. Even the toilets were cheerful – the ladies toilet is decorated with ‘My Little Pony’ wallpaper. The cafes are a homage to breakfast and the 1980s and this works well.

I plumped for the pancakes with berries, maple syrup and vanilla cream; along with some English Breakfast tea. I was a bit disappointed that the tea came in a cup, but at least the cup was big and the tea bag was teapigs.

The only American style pancakes I’ve ever had for breakfast prior to this were from McDonald’s and so I wasn’t expecting much. These were amazing – light yet filling, sweet yet savoury. I don’t know what vanilla cream is exactly (maybe just vanilla flavoured whipped cream?) but I’m now a big fan.

Teapot? No, a cup and saucer with a tea bag.
Leaf tea? No, though it was a tasty tea bag.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2 for the tea, £6.50 for the pancakes with berries.
Cake? Not when I went, it was too early in the morning. They did have some cake listed on their lunch and dinner menu.
Go again? Yes. I would like to go again and try the ‘All American’ pancakes – pancakes with bacon, eggs, sausage, potatoes and maple syrup. I’ve always been sceptical about this combination, but I think I trust The Breakfast Club enough to give it a go. I’d also like to try going in the evening. After I’d been EM told me that the fridge I was sitting next to opens up in the evening and you can walk through it into a club. I’d like to be able to say I’ve walked through a fridge.

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riverfront bar and kitchen

BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XT.   (View on map)

The giant teabag and mini cup of milk (with EM’s pint of something that’s not PALM in the background).

According to the BFI website there are two bars at the BFI, one called ‘benugo bar and kitchen’ and one called ‘riverfront bar and kitchen’. I think that we were in the ‘riverfront bar and kitchen’ as we weren’t in the dining area, but as the tea I bought had ‘benugo’ stamped all over it I am not 100% sure. Anyway, it was a beautiful hot and sunny day and we were sitting outside by the river after seeing an amazing play at the National Theatre – what more could you want?

Teapot? No, a big empty tea bag thing that was filled with loose leaf tea in a paper cup.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Well, not as such – as we were outside the cup had to be paper, so I had a mini paper cup full of milk instead.
Price? £2.30 for the tea, £6 for S’s pint of PALM.
Cake? Yes, some muffins, tray bakes and loaf cakes.
Go again? Yes, if I was in that area with people who wanted a pint and I wanted tea then this is a good place to go. It’s not that often you get a bar that sells loose leaf tea (though teapots would be better, obviously).



Make tea for art

Ever wanted to be in an artwork? Ever wanted to make tea in an artwork? Yes? Then the forthcoming exhibition of Jeremy Deller’s work at the Hayward Gallery is for you.

There are three areas where they are looking for volunteers, one of which is a re-creation of a cafe in Manchester called ‘Valeries’. Volunteers will be in the cafe working in pairs serving tea. I wanted to volunteer but reading the small print I can see they want people to do a minimum of five shifts which I can’t do and still manage to get to work, so not for me. If anyone does decide to do it, let me know!

I’ll content myself with going to see it instead (did I mention the tea they serve is free?).


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.

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Court Cafe West

The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG.   (View on map)

The view from my table looking up - the stairs and glass roof of the Court.

I was early for an appointment and The British Museum was the nearest place I could see that had tea, so that’s where I headed. The central area of the Museum is called the ‘Court’ and the first place that did tea I found was one of the ‘Court Cafes’– according to the receipt it was ‘Court Cafe West’.

The cups were the mandatory cultural cardboard (every cultural institution seems to have these nowadays, e.g. Royal Festival Hall and Kenwood House) and once again I spilt it as I was looking for a table. Yes, I know I had a plastic cover but I didn’t bother to put it on the cup. And so I spilt some.

It was the ‘Drury Lane’ teabags again and I’m not a big fan of the taste of these, they always seem to taste slightly metallic. The Earl Grey I had was okay, it did the job.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, ‘Drury Lane’ teabag, I had Earl Grey.
Milk jug? A big one that you helped yourself to.
Price? £2 – whatever you type of tea you had.
Cake? Cakes, brownies, pastries, sandwiches, biscuits, cold drinks and jelly beans.
Go again? I will probably end up here again the next time I visit the British Museum, but I will try to seek out a different cafe inside the Museum in the hope that they have teapots.

Cultural cardboard at The British Museum.

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Central Bar

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX   (View on map)

My tea and a bit of the ballroom at the Central Bar in Royal Festival Hall. My apologies for the unappealing dribble of tea down the side of the cup - I split some whilst wandering about looking for a table.

Once again I was early and waiting to meet someone at a train station, this time Waterloo was the station of choice. It was cold and dark and raining so I didn’t want to go too far away, but all the places in the station were packed so I braved the weather in order to head to the Southbank. Royal Festival Hall was the first place I came to and I knew they had tea and lots of space, so I went in.

The tea was hot and was Clipper, but it was teabags and came in a paper cup, but I wasn’t expecting much else as I had ordered tea from a bar after all. Though they have a large number of tables and sofas all over the place, there were surprisingly few that were empty. After wandering about a bit I eventually found one in a corner overlooking the ballroom and settled down to pass the time.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, Clipper teabag.
Milk jug? A big one you helped yourself to.
Price? £1.65.
Cake? Not in the bar, but I think there are other venues inside the hall that might do.
Go again? Yes, a good place to go to get some work done as there are tables and free wifi.