Tea for you and me

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

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Wimpy, Swanage

5 Institute Road, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1BT.   (View on map)

Breakfast, tea and poetry at Wimpy

As we were on holiday we decided to go out for breakfast and headed to the Wimpy that we had seen the day before. Neither of us had seen a Wimpy restaurant for years and got overly excited at the idea of going in, but hadn’t wanted to go in for tea and cake so had held back until breakfast the next day. We just liked the fact the Wimpy serves you fast food on proper plates.

The breakfast was good, better than we were expecting and my mushrooms were very tasty and obviously freshly fried. My favourite part of the meal was the poem on the paper napkin about burgers, in association with Reading for Life (which now seems to be called Words for Life).

Teapot? Yes, a little metal one each.
Leaf tea? No, with a drawstring Tetley tea bag. R had not encountered these before so I had a fun 10 seconds teaching him how to use one.
Milk jug? No, those plastic pots.
Price? £1.30 for tea, £4.95 for a Great Wimpy Breakfast (mine cost an extra 45p on top of this as I had mushrooms instead of baked beans).
Cake? No, but milkshakes, teacakes and I think some waffles.
Go again? Probably not, but if it was the only place around then I wouldn’t be that unhappy as at least the tea comes in a pot.

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Beach Gardens

Northbrook Road, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1PG.   (View on map)

The pitch and putt course, with the sea just visible behind the trees.

We went to the Beach Gardens to play a game of pitch and putt, but by the time we walked there I needed another cup of tea. Lo and behold, they offer takeaway tea, so I had a cup. It did the trick and I made it round the 18 holes with no problem, beating R in the process. I think it was the tea that did it.

Teapot? No, the tea came ready made in a polystyrene cup.
Leaf tea? Don’t know, assume not.
Milk jug? Not that I saw, but then the milk was already added.
Price? 70p for the tea, £2.80 per adult for the pitch and putt.
Cake? No, but some ice cream and chocolate bars, I think.
Go again? Yes, but for the pitch and putt rather than the tea.

Tea at the Beach Gardens.

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Cocoa Central, Commercial Road, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 1DF   (View on map)

The bright colours of the bench I sat on, this was all along one wall and had many more colours on it.

We drove to Swanage via the chain link ferry from Poole and there was a striking brightly coloured advert for a chocolate shop and cafe on the ferry that caught my eye. I thought I would need to check it out. When we got to Swanage the first sign I saw was the sign directing us to the cafe and we made our way there before going anywhere else, but as it doesn’t do meals as such (and R was on his quest for a prawn mayo baguette) we ended up in Earthlights instead. So, after Earthlights and a wander round looking at the sea, I suggested we go back to Chococo.

The shop and cafe appealed to me for a number of reasons and you may be surprised to find that the chocolate wasn’t the main reason it appealed so much. It was the colour that made me want to go in. The road which Chococo is in had bright bunting in the shop colours, and inside was seating painted in stripes in the shop colours and so on. I liked the joyful brightness of the place. The second reason was of course the chocolate.

A close up of R's Deluxe hot chocolate.

There may not be any main meals on the menu and in fact I don’t remember anything savoury being on the menu at all, but there was still a lot to choose from. I asked for advice from the waitress, who said that it was all very good but did recommend a couple of things. I went for one of her suggestions: a cranberry and white chocolate brownie. R went for the Deluxe hot chocolate. My tea of choice was an Earl Grey.

When it arrived, R’s hot chocolate was very impressive. It had whipped Dorset cream, mini marshmallows and mini chocolate malt balls and came in a cereal bowl. All the crockery we got served was Emma Bridgewater, another reason I liked this cafe. My tea came on it’s own little tray (with a chocolate) and my chocolate brownie was very good and very strong. The chocolate that came with my tea was amazing. I definitely recommend their chocolate. They even have their own recipe book with all the good things in (including the brownie that I tried).

Tea, brownie and Deluxe hot chocolate at Chococo. Note the dotty crockery and that R has already demolished quite a bit of his hot chocolate despite it only being on our table for half a minute (good thing I took the close up photo as soon as it arrived).

I tried to get R to go back again the next day, but he’s just not that into chocolate. I’d happily go back now.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but all the teas were Clipper teabags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.50 for the tea, £3.55 for the Deluxe hot chocolate, not sure how much the brownie was – perhaps £2 something?
Cake? Muffins, brownies, cookies, cake biscuits, chocolates, ice cream, fondue (with the widest range of things to dip in it I’ve ever seen on a menu – they even had trifle fingers listed), hot chocolate that came with bits of orange covered in chocolate, milkshakes and chocolate chip scones (if I had spotted them before I ordered my brownie I would have tried one of those).
Go again? Yes, yes, yes.



Earthlights Tearoom

36 High Street, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 2NU   (View on map)

Our first view of Swanage bay. Gorgeous.

When we arrived in Swanage we wanted some tea and also some lunch for R and some cake for me. Specifically, R wanted a prawn mayo baguette (he can be particular about his sandwiches sometimes) and Earthlights was the first place we came to that offered the baguette in question and had some cake for me.

The building this cafe is in was an interesting one, it had dark blue ceilings with timbers and big windows with leaded panes in at the top. Small but with a range of different sized tables and chairs and lots of photographs and paintings of the sea on the walls (some for sale).

They say on their website that they have the largest selection of tea in Swanage and we certainly didn’t find anywhere that offered more choice than them, there must have been at least 20 different teas and infusions to choose from. I had a Darjeeling and R had a peppermint.

Darjeeling and peppermint tea, along with prawn mayo baguette and the famous Dorset Apple Cake at Earthlights Tearoom.

Swanage is in Dorset and we realised quickly that the rules of cake are different there. Instead of the Victoria sponge cake ruling supreme it was the Dorset Apple Cake. It was offered everywhere we went, including fish and chip shops, but we only saw one Victoria sponge in our whole trip. I chose the Dorset Apple Cake, not yet knowing that it was the ubiquitous cake of Swanage, but thinking that when in Dorset I should try some of their cake. It was good, with slightly spiced sponge and apples in, crunchy on top. R said his baguette was very good too.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.45 for any type of tea.
Cake? Dorset Apple Cake and various other varieties, along with cookies, ice cream, pancakes, sandwiches, jacket potatoes and evening meals.
Go again? Yes, in fact we went back the next day and had lunch there again.