Tea for you and me

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

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Unit 14, Liverpool Street Station, London, EC2M 7QH

Tea and a cappuccino in Ponti's

Ponti’s is a chain of ‘counter service’ restaurants that you normally see in train stations, shopping centres etc and I hadn’t been to one for ages but L and I wanted somewhere to wait as we were early. We bought a tea and a cappuccino and got two stamps on our loyalty card (which we were given without asking for it – impressive). As we were meeting a number of other people we came up with the cunning plan (so we thought) of getting everyone to use the same card and seeing if we could get a free drink by the end of the visit. It wasn’t to be, as when DM turned up and bought tea he was told he couldn’t get a stamp as it wasn’t coffee. This puzzled us as we’d already used it for tea once, but never mind, the coffee loyalty card is a mystical entity – sometimes you can use it for tea and coffee, sometimes you can’t; sometimes you can get anything for free when you’ve filled it, sometimes you’re not allowed hot chocolate or anything more exciting than a filter coffee or regular tea; sometimes you need five stamps, sometimes nine and sometimes seven.

Back to the point – the tea. The tea was okay. It had the diabolical tiny plastic pots of milk but it did come in a pot and it was hot. It had a Twinings Everyday teabag but I couldn’t taste that, it just tasted metallic, but it wasn’t awful. And only £1.30 which gave it many points in a cafe in a big train station.

Proud assertion of the filming of Mission Impossible inside Ponti's cafe.

I headed to the toilet after my pot of tea and had to go through the function room to get to it. There on the wall to my left a shiny brass plaque caught my eye: ‘The film MISSON IMPOSSIBLE starring Tom Cruise was filmed here on 29th July 1995’. This reads initially as if the whole film was filmed here and I’m pretty sure, though I admit to not seeing the film since it first came out, that it involved more locations than a train station cafe. I’m also not sure the bit with Tom Cruise in was the bit in this cafe, but perhaps I’m wrong. Anyone seen Mission Impossible recently and can remember this? Let me know. It did give me a buzz of star quality though and goes on my mental list of other celebrity tea encounters such as seeing David Walliams at Ladurée and drinking tea in Cafe Delicious while Kirsty and Phil were filming ‘Location, Location, Location’ a few shops down. Okay, so it goes on the bottom of my mental list, but it’s still on there.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but Twinings Everyday teabag.
Milk jug? No, tiny plastic pots.
Price? £1.30 for the tea, £2.10 for the cappuccino.
Cake? Not when we went, but then it was in the morning. Danish pastries and muffins etc.
Go again? Yes, nice and cheap and spacious for a train station.



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70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH

Tea at Cornerhouse

Tea at Cornerhouse

The Cornerhouse is, in a feat of logical naming rarely seen in the modern world, on a corner. It has three art galleries, two bars and a bookshop, with a cinema across the road on the opposite corner. I chose the upstairs cafe bar as it was the one that served food and this usually means a better chance of getting some tea.

I’d been lazy and decided to get the bus from Manchester Piccadily station to the Cornerhouse, rather than walk the length of the station and have a five minute train journey to the Manchester Oxford Road station, which is next door to the Cornerhouse. My laziness was my downfall and an hour later after two long and circular bus journeys I arrived. If ever I was in need of tea it was then.

The upstairs bar looked very bar like, but then I spied jars of large teapigs teabags and knew everything was going to be okay. Teapigs teabags are large tea bags made of gauze, not paper, and they have whole loose leaves inside them (most tea bags have chopped up bits of tea leaves, open one up and have a look). It was good but I was still grumpy about my self-inflicted bus journey confusion. I drank my tea and for the sake of economy didn’t order another.

Then a miraculous thing happened – a waitress came over with another mug of tea. Did I want it? It had been made by mistake and she’d remembered that I’d been drinking tea and thought I might like it. I could have it for free, think of it as happy hour.

I took the tea gratefully. Any busy bar that has a waitress that thoughtful gets the thumbs up from me. Plus the tea was really rather nice.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, but excellent tea bags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.45.
Cake? Small selection.
Go again? Yes.

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West Cornwall Pasty Co., Reading Train Station

Unit 1, Reading Station, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 1LZ.

Tea at West Cornwall Pasty Co., Reading Station

Tea at West Cornwall Pasty Co., Reading Station

I wasn’t planning on having tea at the train station, my brother just wanted some food before getting his train home. He got a pasty and while he was queuing I noticed that a lady sitting down had a tea pot. A tea pot in a train station! I was impressed.

The West Cornwall Pasty Co. has a black logo and so it’s teapot, cup and saucer was a fashionable black. Rock on.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Teabag.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.50, I think.
Cake? No.
Go again? If I have to wait for a train, though if going to get on a train I’d stick to AMT Coffee as they have bigger takeaway cups and better teabags.

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Bruxelles Midi train station cafe

Two teas from a cafe in Bruxelles Midi train station

Two teas from a cafe in Bruxelles Midi train station

I have to admit I can’t remember the name of this cafe in Brussels train station. I do apologise. If you want to go, it’s the only cafe/bar beyond the passport check points if you are heading for the Eurostar train.

The tea here was much needed and there was no queue to get it, it was a standard cup of tea. I wouldn’t have bothered to blog about it if it hadn’t been for the way the barman arranged my tray. It’s symmetrical and precise and shows care and attention I appreciate when dealing with tea.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? A tea bag.
Milk jug? No, little pots of milk.
Price? 4 something euros for two teas.
Cake? No, but we did get a tiny biscuit.
Go again? If I was in Bruxelles Midi beyond passport control.

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AMT Coffee, Reading Station

My cup of AMT Coffee tea

My cup of AMT Coffee tea

Station Approach, Reading, RG1 1LZ

Saturday 15th November was a good day for tea. There was lots of it, in many different places, and it was all very nice drinkable tea.

The first cup of tea (not the literally the first, just the first I paid for) was at 6.50am at Reading station. AMT Coffee have a number of little booth thingys around Reading Station and I headed to the one in the main concourse as it was the only one open that early in the morning. There are other places to buy tea in the station, but believe me when I tell you that AMT Coffee sell the best tea. It’s teabags, but they are Fairtrade Clipper teabags which also happen to be my teabag of choice.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? No, but it is fresh milk.
Price? £1.30.
Cake? Muffins, danish pastries and pretzels.
Go again? Any time I need tea in a train station.