Tea for you and me

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


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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The Petersham Hotel and Restaurant

Nightingale Lane, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 6UZ   (View on map)

The view from our table at The Petersham

I had never been to The Petersham before, but my Mum had and she recommended it as somewhere to go for my Dad’s birthday. S, R, Mum, Dad and I all met at The Petersham in order to have some afternoon tea. The hotel was hotel-like with squishy carpets and a big piano and grand staircase in the entrance hall.

We were squashed on two small tables put next to each other, in a corner, in fact everyone who was there for afternoon tea was in a corner area of the restaurant, with diners finishing off their Sunday lunches in the main section of the restaurant. We ordered our afternoon tea and chose the tea we wanted. The tea came about ten minutes later and then we waited another 35 minutes for the afternoon tea food to arrive. As we had specifically booked for afternoon tea and had eaten lunch a long time ago in order to fit the afternoon tea in, we were not that impressed.

The fake snow at The Petersham

The tea was Twinings teabags but I still thought mine tasted a bit odd. R had three teabags and the rest of us had one, or rather, R had three teabag strings and tags hanging out of his pot and the rest of us only had one. Later we discovered that we all had three, but only R had had the strings and tags taken out of the pot for all three teabags – the rest of us had the string and tag still wrapped round two of our three teabags. By the time we realised what had happened the cardboard tags were disintigrating and bits were floating around in our tea – so no wonder it tasted odd. We didn’t complain as we couldn’t get anyone’s attention in order to complain, so just gave up.

The jam came in tiny pots and the service was very slow; on the plus side there was a fake snow flurry just outside the window at one point (to keep with the festive theme) and the food was good. My Mum has been during the week and says it was much better then, but overall we were disappointed with The Petersham.

Afternoon tea at The Petersham - note the tiny jam pots and differing numbers of teabag tags.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, Twinings teabags that hadn’t been unwound properly. Not nice.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £19.50 each.
Cake? Yes, pastries and cake and scones.
Go again? No.

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13 The Quadrant, Richmond Upon Thames, Surrey, TW9 1BP

Pizza, Canele and tea at Paul

I walked past Paul and then doubled back to look in the window as it was full of lovely patisserie things. Yum, I thought, and headed inside. I’ve seen the stores before but never eaten in one. It was a touch expensive for my wallet that day, so I picked a pizza slice and a Canele. Well, I actually looked at the chocolate tart, saw that it was £3.80 and looked for something cheaper. I spied the little pudding shaped thing for £1.95 and asked the guy behind the counter what it was, he said ‘Er, well’ and I asked, ‘Is it sweet?’ he confirmed it was, and that was that.

You can’t really see from the photo but the tea bag is a nice mesh thing with big leaves inside, the Paul own brand apparently. It tasted good.

The pizza was scrummy but quite heavy (I know, I know, it’s pizza – what did I expect?) and the Canele was nice but odd. It turned out to be a pudding like rum and buttery flavoured thing. Chewy outside coating and soft and squidgy inside. I’m not that great with alcohol flavoured items and this was quite strong for me, probably not for anyone else.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? Paul own brand tea bags with good mesh and big leaves.
Milk jug? Little cardboard espresso cup of milk.
Price? £1.80 for the tea, £4.15 for the pizza, £1.95 for the Canele.
Cake? Yes, patisserie items, cakes, sandwiches, salads, bread, whole tarts.
Go again? Yes.

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Pembroke Lodge

Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park, Richmond, Surrey, TW10 5HX.

Tea and hot cross buns at Pembroke Lodge

Tea and hot cross buns at Pembroke Lodge (spot the rogue cup of coffee)

It was the most gloriously sunny bank holiday Monday and three generations of our family spent the afternoon wandering round the gardens in Richmond Park and then, naturally, finished up with some tea at Pembroke Lodge.

I hadn’t been to Richmond Park in ages and it was refreshing to be somewhere so green and open in London. On the drive in to the Pembroke Lodge car park I saw a deer with one antler lying down next to a man in a cloth cap sitting on a tree trunk rolling a cigarette. They were both so still and brown it took me a second to realise what I was looking at.

The gardens were filled with tulips and we thought, yes, this is spring. I took a photo of them to share with you but it didn’t come out. Go and see them for yourself.

Pembroke Lodge has a large patio overlooking Richmond Park. We sat outside and ate hot cross buns with butter and jam (odd concept, having jam with hot cross buns, but it worked if the jam was applied sparingly) and many pots of tea. The tea was good and the server actually offered us hot water. We had some jam left over in the little plastic pots and I snaffled them in my handbag. Then found them when I was looking for my car keys three days later. They’ve made it as far as this desk, perhaps they’ll make it to the kitchen sometime next week.

Teapot? Yes, big one between two.
Leaf tea? Teabag.
Milk jug? Yes, many little metal ones.
Price? £2.95 for tea, hot cross bun, butter and jam.
Cake? Yes.
Go again? Yes.