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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.