Tea for you and me

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


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Happy Birthday Tea for you and me!

The range of cakes at Angel food bakery

Ah, it was two years ago that I sat in Cafe Nero and thought, ‘This is rubbish, something must be done’ and the idea for this blog was born.

In that time I’ve clocked up over 100 reviews and sampled tea in five different countries. It’s had over 4,000 visits and the most read review has been Angel food bakery.

I’d love to mark the occasion by finding some new gem of a tea provider, anyone got any suggestions?

Happy Birthday Tea for you and me!


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Forno

126 High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1PT   01628 670051

Tea, ciabatta and tea cake at Forno

We were looking for somewhere to drink tea and get lunch that I hadn’t already stuck on the blog and Forno had the dubious honour of being the first place we came to that fitted the criteria.

It all turned out okay though as Forno is an Italian restaurant that has a good choice of things that could be eaten for lunch. There is a list of fillings and then a choice of bread, ciabatta or jacket potato to have them with. I plumped for the tea cakes and was pleasantly surprised when they arrived and turned out not to be hot cross buns. (You’d be surprised at the number of times I have been served hot cross buns when I’ve ordered tea cakes.)

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.50 for a pot.
Cake? Not really, some deserts, some muffins listed (but sat on the counter in plastic packets so I didn’t order any), teacakes and the usual Italian restaurant fare.
Go again? Not for tea, there are other places in Maidenhead I’d prefer, but would come back for lunch or for an evening meal.


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French and Fresh Bakery

No. 2 The Colonnade, High Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 1QL.

Tea at French and Fresh Bakery

The French and Fresh Bakery always smells gorgeous when I walk past as they bake everything on the premises and bread cooking is a heavenly smell. The sign above the door says it’s a Boulangerie and Patisserie and it certainly smells like one. Inside there are rows of bread and tarts, cakes, quiches, pizza slices. The cakes and tarts start at around £3 and a baguette to eat in is £4, so I just stuck with my tea.

A pot of tea to drink in was £2 but the tea pot was relatively big  (the cup was huge, making the tea pot in the photo look all tiny, but that’s just a trick of the cup, I promise you) and it was a satisfying and relaxing tea drinking session.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, Twinings tea bag.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2 for a pot.
Cake? Lots of good complicated cakes, tarts, quiches, salads, etc and biscuits in tins as well.
Go again? Yes.


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Crumbs…

29 Queen Victoria Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 1SY   07947 719084

Tea and a Thai chicken melt at Crumbs...

Crumbs… is a little cafe just off the main shopping street in Reading. It has sandwiches, paninis, wraps, salads, jacket potatoes and some cake slices. It also has some outside seating which is a good thing, but it was a bit chilly to sit outside when I went there. The outside seating had normal height chairs but the inside seating was the high table and stool like seating. These make me nervous as I’m not very good at staying on them, but I managed okay so all was well.

I plumped for a Thai chicken melt ciabatta for a very reasonable £2.60 and a cup of tea. The drinks menu states that you can have ‘English Breakfast Tea (proper tea)’ or ‘Earl Grey’. I would argue it’s all proper tea, but I appreciate the sentiment.

A good place to go for a quick bite to eat and a mug of tea.

Teapot? No, it came ready made with milk in.
Leaf tea? Presume not.
Milk jug? No, came with milk.
Price? £1.40 for ‘proper tea’, 1.70 for Earl Grey. My ciabatta was £2.60.
Cake? A couple of varieties of loaf cake.
Go again? Yes, if I wanted a quick lunch.


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The Rowbarge

Station Road, Woolhampton, Berkshire, RG7 5SH

Brioche bread and butter pudding with custard, a pot of Earl Grey tea and a hot chocolate at The Rowbarge

Somewhere in West Berkshire is a pub I occasionally used to drive past. I seem to remember it was by a level crossing and that it looked lovely. I described this to J and she said she thought she knew the one I meant so we arranged to meet up at The Rowbarge. It turned out not to be the one I was thinking of, but it was very lovely. It’s on the banks of the Kennet and Avon canal and has a gorgeous outside seating area, bit cold for us at the time but I imagine in the summer it’s heaven.

The food was gastro pub style and tasty, with a range of prices so we managed to have main courses around £8, though the prices headed up to £15. Naturally I ordered tea after our main meal and we also shared a brioche bread and butter pudding with custard that was a good hearty pudding. The tea came in a pot with a Twinings tea bag and was a good cup of tea, though there was only Breakfast or Earl Grey to choose from (I’m sorry but fruit teas are not teas, they’re infusions, unless they are actually tea with fruit but they weren’t in this case). J’s hot chocolate was also approved of.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Twinings tea bag.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.75 for a pot of tea, £2 for hot chocolate, £4.25 for bread and butter pudding.
Cake? No, just puddings and main meals, starters etc.
Go again? Yes, they were advertising a two course Sunday lunch for £14.95 and that seems like a good plan to me.


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Paul

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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Moka

Unit 9, 60 Ashley Centre, Epsom, Surrey, KT18 5DB

Scone, tea and mocha at Moka

It was full when we arrived mid morning on Sunday, which is always a good sign and once again someone left just as we turned up and we managed to grab a table. I was hungry and wanted something solid to eat, so I decided to have a scone with butter and jam. R and I ordered tea and S ordered a mocha.

The scone was solid and crumbly with a mini pot of proper jam and some butter. The tea had been left to sit on the counter for a while before we got it – we could see it from where we were – and so was quite stewed for Earl Grey but was still welcome. Annoying metal tea pots that poured tea all over the table though. Anyway, a good place to go for tea in Epsom.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? No, but Fairtrade tea bags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.95 for Earl Grey, £2.45 for the mocha, £1.90 for scone with jam and butter.
Cake? Yes and tarts, breakfast, lunch.
Go again? Yes.


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Picnic

5 Butter Market, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 2DP

Tea and a big macaroon at the super duper Picnic

Having reported that Picnic won the ‘Independent Store of the Year’ Reading Retail Awards 2010 prize I thought I’d better head down there quick smart and do a proper review on it.

Picnic is my favourite cafe in central Reading and I go there all the time. They have brightly coloured seats and tables and lots of amazingly tasty and fresh food. It’s tiny but they manage to pack in salads and sandwiches and picnic boxes and coffee and cake and fruit salads and crisps and macaroons and tea and friendly staff and two different types of ginger beer. It’s a warm and welcoming place to be even when packed full of the lunchtime rush. The photo here doesn’t really do justice to it, take a look at their photo gallery for a proper idea.

The only downside to Picnic is that tea doesn’t come in a pot, but the cup it does come in is of a generous size and the tea bags are Clipper (my favourite). Today I had an Earl Grey with milk (and they offered me milk, I didn’t have to ask) and a very nice chunky macaroon.

People who know coffee tell me that the coffee is very good too. I like it so much that I feel treacherous saying that it’s not the best place in Reading to go for tea, but no pot is no pot. However, if you want food with your tea or tea in a great atmosphere then this is the place for you.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, but Clipper tea bags.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.65 for a big cup of tea, £1 for a giant macaroon.
Cake? Yes and lots lots more!
Go again? Yes, and you should too.


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Where next?

I have just updated the tea-tastic map page to have two views: one of England and one of all the places in the world on this blog. Here’s the England centric one:

It looks disappointingly patchy. I wanted to call it ‘UK centric’ but it’s only got reviews of places in the UK. There’s more tea out there, I know there is, I just need to find it!

Where’s your favourite tea place? Where should I go next? If I can persuade R that our next holiday should be some sort of tea tour, where should we go? Leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to investigate it for the blog. Suggestions for places outside England are also most welcome!


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Bookmark

18-20 The Crescent, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1AF     01775 769231

One of the two fountains inside Bookmark, complete with swimming fish.

Bookmark is an award-winning book shop in Spalding that is much much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. Not only that, but it has two working fountains inside it, one of which has fish in. Real swimming happy little fish, merrily going about their business inside a book shop. I took a photo for your perusing pleasure, but it’s come out a bit fuzzy, my apologies.

The coffee shop is tucked away in a corner of the shop but is still quite large. We got there just before 12 and it filled up quickly with people coming for lunch. There are tables and chairs or some old fashioned yet comfortable green leather sofas. There was a good selection of cake on display and the menu had a page just for the different types of tea and coffee. R had green tea and a handmade sausage roll, JM had a cafe latte with a slice of coconut and lemon cake, and I went for a pot of Earl Grey with a slice of white chocolate and cherry tart.

Tea, cafe latte and the white chocolate and cherry tart at Bookmark.

They were all very good, with the tea loose leaf and in a tea pot that gave me 3 and a half cups, despite looking not that big. Various people around us were eating lunch and that looked yummy as well. My tart didn’t really taste like white chocolate, but it was light and fresh and not too sickly sweet so I was happy.

Teapot? Yes.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2.25 for a pot of speciality tea.
Cake? Yes and tarts and quiches.
Go again? Yes, this place has books, tea and a fountain with fish in – of course I’d go again!