Tea for you and me

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


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Sourced Market, Marylebone

68-72 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 2SD.

Visited on: 24th October 2016.

 

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Rooibos tea in a pot at Sourced Market, with milk in a bottle and a glass of water. Apologies for forgetting to take a photo of the tea once it was poured out.

Oxford Street can be very busy, but if you go through the tiny gap into St Christopher’s Place and out the other side, you come to Sourced Market.

Sourced Market has two locations: St Pancras International and Marylebone. The Marylebone location is a two storey cafe and bar, which also has some expensive but lovely looking food and drink for sale. There’s seating upstairs and downstairs and though it looked busy from the outside, there were lots of spaces once you were inside. The upstairs has a cafe counter, a sandwich and deli counter, a juice bar and a hot food counter. Downstairs is the bar.

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Decaf Americano with hot milk on the side (in the trendy milk bottle) and a little glass of water.

I ordered at the cafe counter, but the drinks were brought over to us at our table. The little wooden boards worked well in such a busy place and I liked that everything came with a glass of water. Definitely somewhere I’ll come again when I’m next in this part of London.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? No, but rather tasty Brew Tea Co. rooibos teabags (there were two in my pot).
  • Milk jug? The oh-so-fashionable miniature milk bottle.
  • Price? £4.10 for a decaf Americano and a pot of rooibos tea. For central London, this is very good value.
  • Cake? Yes, and pastries. Also sandwiches and hot food.
  • Go again? Yes, it was a great place to escape Oxford Street and the rooibos was very smooth.


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Tipsy bean

18 Prospect Street, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire, RG4 8JB.

wp-1476990122244.jpgTipsy bean (great name) is a cafe/bar in Caversham, where the old Wordplay bookshop and toy shop used to be. It’s a long space with the bar along one side towards the back. The windows onto the street give light to the tables at the front, while the area near the bar is quite dark, but it feels nice and cosy rather than oppressive. The seating matches the change in light – with upholstered grey/cream chairs near the window and a long red leather bench opposite the bar. With dried flower bunches hanging above the bar, red Gerberas on the tables and jam jar style lamps, Tipsy bean has a welcoming feel.

The menu said that they had lots of tea and they certainly seem to – they had rooibos at least and quite a few other varieties (all in boxes on a high shelf at the back of the bar). I wanted to sample their cake, but unfortunately they’d run out.

My tea came in a mug, with a milk jug and a little plate with a sugar. It was a good mug of tea and I enjoyed my visit.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? No, but Waitrose rooibos teabags, which I’m quite partial to (Tick Tock and Clipper are my other favourites, just so you know).
  • Milk jug? Yes.
  • Price? £2.
  • Cake? No (sob). But platters (smoked salmon, veggie, meat) and sandwiches and breakfast and nuts and nibbles.
  • Go again? Yes, both because I liked it and because I’d like to try the cake and the veggie platter.


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Ancoats Coffee Co.

Unit 9, Royal Mills, 17 Redhill Street, Ancoats, M4 5BA

Visited on: 27th August 2016

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The inside/outside area at Ancoats Coffee Co.

I know, I know, going to drink tea somewhere that calls itself a coffee company is bound to end in trouble, but I was with people who wanted to drink coffee. And that’s fine, I used to drink coffee too (just not as much as I drank tea). Plus, the whole reason we were in Ancoats in the first place was that H had mentioned how good the pizza was at Rudy’s Pizza was and I wanted to try it (it was very, very good).

H had heard about Ancoats Coffee Co. and how it had good coffee. So off we went. It’s in a converted mill, with seating inside and seating inside/outside – outside the coffee shop but underneath a glass roof, in what would have been a courtyard in the mill.

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The cappuccinos and the biscuits.

We ordered our drinks: H had a decaf cappuccino (and wasn’t impressed when they charged an extra 50p for decaf without that being obviously listed on the menu or being warned about it first) and E had a normal cappuccino. I tried to have rooibos, but I think now rooibos tea has become so mainstream that Tetley sell it, it’s too mainstream for hipster Manchester – I couldn’t get rooibos in any of the places we went in during this visit. I ended up having red berry and hibiscus on the advice of the guy who served us. We also had two lavender and lemon biscuits – one for me and one for E and H to share.

The biscuit was delicious, sweet and light and with a lovely lemon icing. E and H said that their coffee was very good. My tea was, well, not really my cup of tea. It came in a tea pot, so that was good, but it also came with an empty carafe and a wine glass with honey on the inside. I don’t take sugar with my tea and wouldn’t have ordered a biscuit if I’d known that the tea would come with honey. Anyway, I tried it as it was. I quite like the idea of having the carafe to pour the tea into once the tea is strong enough, but the tea itself was quite bitter. You needed the honey to offset the bitterness. The issue with having the honey in the glass is that the first glass of tea is very sweet and the last glass of tea is not sweet at all. I didn’t finish it. It’s my own fault really, I know I don’t particularly like red berry style fruit teas, but I wanted a cup of tea.

Overall verdict? We liked the space and E and H liked their coffee, but we would have liked a little more information before ordering. I would have liked to know the tea would come with honey and H would have liked to know that having decaf coffee would be an extra 50p (H would have had a normal coffee if that had been explained).

  • Teapot? Yes, and a carafe too. First time I’ve ever been given both.
  • Leaf tea? Yes. Well, I suppose technically it wasn’t tea, but it was a loose infusion.
  • Milk jug? No milk with this beverage.
  • Price? £2.70 for the infusion/tea, £1.50 for the biscuit and £3.20 for the coffee (I think, not too sure of the coffee price as I wasn’t drinking it).
  • Cake? Yes and brownies and biscuits.
  • Go again? No. Not unless I was with people who really wanted coffee.


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Hugh’s War on Waste

Did you know that the takeaway paper cups you get from cafes can’t be recycled? I didn’t until a few months ago, when there were lots of articles in the news about it.

Turns out the articles I saw were triggered by the BBC programme Hugh’s War on Waste. It was on TV last night and in it Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall investigates how the takeaway cups can’t be recycled as the plastic lining can’t be easily separated from the paper. Plus the cups are made from virgin paper, which makes it even worse.

It’s worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it. The takeaway cups are referred to as coffee cups throughout, but we know you can get tea in them too and so it’s even more reason to take a leisurely break for proper tea in a proper pot with a proper cup and saucer. Or bring your own reusable cup.


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Reefside Kiosk

Boscombe Pier, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH5 1BN.

Visited on: 31st May 2016

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Dorset Tea from the Reefside Kiosk, Boscombe Pier. 

R and I walked from Bournemouth seafront to Boscombe Pier in the rain. It wasn’t particularly cold rain, but it was more than just drizzle and so by the time we arrived at the pier we were both in need of a cup of tea.

Ice cream with a flake, sea in the background.

Ice cream! With a flake! Next to the sea!

Reefside Kiosk is a kiosk at the entrance to Boscombe Pier. The kiosk had black tea, green tea or fruit tea, but unfortunately no rooibos or decaf. R was happy as he’s a fan of green tea and had a cup of that. I’m not a fan of fruit tea (it makes my teeth feel funny) and green tea has caffeine in. Reader, I wanted a cup of tea badly. I ordered the black tea. Then I moved across to the Reefside Ices window and ordered an ice cream (because we were at the seaside).

The tea came in a paper cup and was a Dorset Tea teabag. The milk came in little plastic pots. There was a wooden stick instead of a spoon. But wow, did that cup of tea taste good. Was it the fact it was caffeinated? Was it that it was a brand local to where we were? Was it that I drank it sat on a bench watching the rain fall on the sea but stayed dry as the benches on the pier are covered by a roof? Probably it was all of those things.

The ice cream helped too. My ice cream was Purbeck ice cream and I had a two scoops cone: one of honeycomb hash and one of chocolate. With a chocolate flake. It was very good.

Boscombe Pier, unlike Bournemouth Pier, is free to walk on and has no amusement arcades. When we were there they were installing mini golf (though this seemed a risky entertainment for a pier – how many golf balls were going to go in the sea?). There were also musical instruments that you could play and I had a go on all of them. They made lovely chiming noises.

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The view from our bench.

We didn’t go further than the pier, but Boscombe seemed much quieter than Bournemouth. It was very peaceful sitting on the pier and looking out over the sea, listening to the waves and watching the birds. The setting makes this one of my favourite places to drink tea so far. Thanks to the lady in Bournemouth’s tourist information office for suggesting that we walked down to Boscombe pier.

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The view of the Reefside Kiosk from the road. I took this after we’d eaten, notice that the ices section has now closed for the day.

  • Teapot? No.
  • Leaf tea? No, but it was a Dorset Tea teabag and we were in Dorset.
  • Milk jug? No, little plastic pots.
  • Price? £1.60 for a cup of tea. £3.60 for two scoop ice cream and an extra 30p for the flake (worth every penny).
  • Cake? No, but there were sweet crêpes, which looked amazing. Sadly I was too full to try one when we were there.
  • Go again? Yes.

 


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Farewell, Cafe W

I’ve been adding reviews to this blog for a number of years now and have seen a fair few cafes open and close in that time. One of these days I’ll manage to double check all of the reviews and note which ones are now shut.

The most recent one to close is Cafe W in the Oracle Waterstones, as the whole shop has shut down. There is another Waterstones in Reading, but that one doesn’t have a cafe.

In my review of Cafe W I said I’d like to go back when they were more established (and I wanted to see what their tea was like in a pot rather than in a paper cup). I’m sure that they must have got their crockery sorted a while back, but I’m afraid I didn’t make it back before they closed.

Other Waterstones have cafes and they’re also called Cafe W, so I could try one of those instead. The cake sold at the Reading Cafe W was supplied by Picnic, so you can still get the same cake in Reading.

It’s still a shame though. So long, Cafe W, thanks for all the rooibos tea.

 

 


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Le Valentin

30-32 Passage Jouffroy, 75009, Paris, France

Visited on: Thursday 22nd October 2015

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A view of the cake counter at Le Valentin.

Another Lonely Planet recommendation, I’d been looking forward to going to a proper French patisserie the whole time we’d been in Paris. Le Valentin, which is situated in a covered shopping arcade, did not disappoint.

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Chocolate eclair, chocolate cake, fancy sugar sticks and pots of tea.

The waitress seated us and then came to take our order. R only wanted tea, but the waitress and I managed to persuade him to try a chocolate eclair as well. I asked for something that was chocolate and the waitress pointed out a particular cake in the cabinet. It had a special name, but I’m afraid I couldn’t quite catch it.

The tea was loose leaf and came in metal teapots. R had chosen a sencha green tea and I had chosen rooibos, neither came with milk and I didn’t ask for milk as I felt I should try it without. In the end, that turned out to be a good idea as the cake was very rich and the tea was more refreshing without milk.

 

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My glowing rooibos tea.

Each of us were served a fancy sugar stick with the tea – a wooden stick with crystallised sugar on it. Neither of us take sugar with our tea but as they were so fancy I folded a napkin around them and took them home with me to give to someone who did take sugar in their tea. R found this highly amusing.

R’s chocolate eclair was light and not too heavy on the cream. My chocolate thing was rich but not cloying and I especially appreciated the little piece of silver on the top of it. The tea was good too.

 

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My chocolate cake thing in all its shiny glory.

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The cake and mousse interior of my chocolate cake thing.

We were sat next to the cake counter, so could see what everyone else was ordering and I enjoyed watching everyone come and go. Good tea, great cake and a nice experience overall.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? Yes. Not only that, there was a very wide choice of tea on their tea menu.
  • Milk jug? No, but neither needed milk.
  • Price? €5.10 for the rooibos tea, €5.50 (I think) for R’s sencha tea, €4.40 for the eclair (eat in price) and around €6 for the chocolate deliciousness that I had (eat in price).
  • Cake? Yes! And lots of it. Plus pastries, breads, savoury tarts and pies.
  • Go again? Yes.


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Little Breizh

11, rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006, Paris, France.

Visited on: Thursday 22nd October 2015

Little Breizh crepe and tea

My marvellous crêpe, the delicious citrus rooibos tea and R’s bowl of cidre.

Little Breizh was recommended in the Lonely Planet as somewhere good to go for lunch and so off we went. I wasn’t expecting to drink tea here, but when I saw that rooibos tea was listed on the menu I happily ordered it.

R had a bowl of cidre (cider) and I had a citrus rooibos tea. There was a French name for it, which I noted down, but now I can’t read my handwriting and so can’t tell you what it was. Apologies.

The crêpes were delicious and very filling. My tea was a good accompaniment to the richness of my crêpe and R was so taken with the cidre that he ordered another bowl.

  • Teapot? Yes.
  • Leaf tea? No, but it was a very nice teabag.
  • Milk jug? No, no need for it with this type of tea.
  • Price? €4 for a bowl of cidre, €4.50 (I think) for the citrus rooibos, €11 for R’s crêpe (ham, egg, bacon, cheese) and €11.50 for mine (bacon, mushrooms in cream, fried egg and cheese), €2 for a side salad. There were also set lunch menus that (if I remember rightly) included a savoury crepe, a sweet crepe and a drink for around €12/€14.
  • Cake? No, but there were sweet crêpes, which looked amazing. Sadly I was too full to try one when we were there.
  • Go again? Yes.
Crepes at Little Breizh

Both crêpes and side salads and drinks. Note that R is ignoring normal blog photo protocol and continuing to eat – that’s how tasty the crêpes were.


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Buffet Tour Eiffel

La Tour Eiffel, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007 Paris, France.
Visited on: Wednesday 21st October 2015

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The Eiffel Tower, as seen from below.

R and I were in Paris and what do you do when you’re in Paris? Why, go and drink tea up the Eiffel Tower of course.

The Eiffel Tower is pretty recognisable and I wasn’t expecting to be that impressed by it, but wow is it big. It’s definitely worth a visit. I’d recommend taking the time to read and watch all the information about the history and how it was made as I found that really interesting.

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Note how I’ve artfully arranged the cup and teabag tag so you can see what’s what.

We had our cup of tea after we’d been round the two highest levels. The Buffet Tour Eiffel is a standard queue up at the counter and get your takeaway food type place. You could then drink or eat standing up at high tables, or like us, wait for a bench outside to become free and then go and sit on that. It was quite brilliant sitting on a bench looking out over Paris and drinking a hot cup of tea. My photos really don’t do the views justice.

2015-10-21 Buffet Tour Eiffel tea and view

This is my ‘Look, we’re really drinking tea up the Eiffel Tower’ shot.

Teapot? No.
Leaf tea? No, a Liptons teabag. I have stopped drinking caffeinated tea, but there was no non-caffeinated option available and I badly wanted to be able to say I’d drunk tea up the Eiffel Tower.
Milk jug? I don’t think so. We didn’t have milk because it cost more (something I’ve never seen in the UK) but I imagine it would just be added to your cup for you.
Price? €2.50 for the nature (tea without milk) or €3 for the au lait (tea with milk).
Cake? No, but they did sell frites (skinny chips), pretzels, lollipops shaped like the Eiffel Tower and baguettes. There was a shop next to the Buffet that sold macaroons if you really wanted something cake-like (and it had a display of them in the shape of the Eiffel Tower).
Go again? I would go up the Eiffel Tower again and I would have tea up there again because, really, it’s quite nice to have a cup of tea when you’re halfway up a large metal structure. But I wouldn’t bother going here specifically for the tea. Especially not when you have to pay to go up the Tower in the first place. There are posher restaurants on the lower level of the tower though, I guess they might have better tea. Anyone been?

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An Eiffel Tower made of macaroons. Obviously.

2015-10-21 Buffet Tour Eiffel view

I don’t think this is the view from where we drank the tea, but it looks nice and it gives you an idea of how high up we were.