BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XT. (View on map)
The giant teabag and mini cup of milk (with EM’s pint of something that’s not PALM in the background).
According to the BFI website there are two bars at the BFI, one called ‘benugo bar and kitchen’ and one called ‘riverfront bar and kitchen’. I think that we were in the ‘riverfront bar and kitchen’ as we weren’t in the dining area, but as the tea I bought had ‘benugo’ stamped all over it I am not 100% sure. Anyway, it was a beautiful hot and sunny day and we were sitting outside by the river after seeing an amazing play at the National Theatre – what more could you want?
Teapot? No, a big empty tea bag thing that was filled with loose leaf tea in a paper cup.
Leaf tea? Yes.
Milk jug? Well, not as such – as we were outside the cup had to be paper, so I had a mini paper cup full of milk instead.
Price? £2.30 for the tea, £6 for S’s pint of PALM.
Cake? Yes, some muffins, tray bakes and loaf cakes.
Go again? Yes, if I was in that area with people who wanted a pint and I wanted tea then this is a good place to go. It’s not that often you get a bar that sells loose leaf tea (though teapots would be better, obviously).
21 Duke Street, Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire, RG9 1UR (View on map)
'Breakfast' drinking chocolate and a rose hip truffle at Gorvett and Stone.
Don’t all shout at once, but this isn’t a review of tea. I know, I know, this is a tea blog, but it wasn’t my fault, honest. I saw the listing of different types of tea in the window and so went into Gorvett and Stone to drink some tea. I should point out here that they make chocolate and the whole place smelt so invitingly of chocolate that I found myself asking what kind of drinking chocolate they would recommend. The lovely gentleman behind the counter explained the different types and I plumped for the ‘Breakfast’ blend. Oh, it was good. So good I’m throwing caution to the wind and sticking it on here – rules were made to be broken. And if that shocks you then cover your eyes now – before I can tell you that I take my Earl Grey with milk.
It was frothy and smooth with just a hint of the kick that comes with 70% cocoa, but none of the bitterness that you sometimes find in cheap dark chocolate. If you order a hot drink to drink in you also get to pick one of their lovely chocolates to have with it. I picked the rose hip truffle. It was a tiny mouthful of pleasure. And such a pretty tea cup. I will go back one day when I have more time and order the tea and then order the drinking chocolate afterwards (I was going to say I would just order the tea, but in my new confessional spirit I admit I will not be strong enough to resist the chocolate, best to have both).
Teapot? No, but then it wasn’t tea.
Leaf tea? Er, no.
Milk jug? Not applicable.
Price? £2.65 for the drinking chocolate. The tea was around £2 for a cup for one and £5/6 for a pot for two.
Cake? No, but lots of chocolate!
Go again? Yes.
Boulters Lock Island, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 8PE
The tea and the stunning view of the river.
Boulters Restaurant and Bar doesn’t seem to think we need an apostrophe for ‘Boulters Lock’ and so I haven’t put one in, but I feel there needs to be one. Confusingly, the River Thames website sometimes uses one and sometimes doesn’t; I’ll stick to using one when talking about the place and not using one when referring to the bar and restaurant.
Anyway, confusing apostrophe use aside, the river looks beautiful here and the view from the balcony of the bar is stunning. We were lucky enough to have a sunny day with blue skies and to get the last table on the balcony for lunch.
This is not the cheapest place to eat or drink but the terrace bar is much cheaper than the brasserie downstairs. We had a chicken ceasar ciabatta which sounds odd, but was very good and not too dry. The tea was over £2 and yet still didn’t come in a pot, which was disappointing, but the tea bag used was a good one.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £2.05 for tea, £7ish for the sandwich.
Cake? Puddings and scones rather than cake.
Go again? Yes, as the view is stunning.
1 – 3 Duke Street, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1UR
Peppermint tea and Earl Grey tea at Maison Blanc
Maison Blanc is a relatively new addition to Henley and we hadn’t tried it yet so we headed there after lunch for some tea. I’d unfortunately had too much for lunch so decided to have peppermint tea (to aid digestion, don’t you know) and R had Earl Grey. They had the most amazing cakes and gateaux and it looked delicious but I was too full to try any and R isn’t that bothered about cake. I can’t understand how anyone can not be bothered about cake, but each to their own.
The tea was very nice and came in a teapot so we were happy. I’ll definitely be going back sometime soon to try some of the cake. There’s a good yarn shop a few doors down as well, if knitting’s your thing.
Leaf tea? No, but Clipper tea bags which are my favourite.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? £1.85 per pot.
Cake? Yes, and main meals.
Go again? Yes, I really want to try the cake.
Gillotts Lane, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 1PA.
Tea at Henley Leisure Centre
Henley Leisure Centre looks very new and shiny. It has a 25 metre swimming pool and has lane swimming on a Sunday morning, which is why I was there. I got to it through single track country roads past horses and churches and over a hump back bridge. Suddenly, in the midst of all this greenery and stereotypical countryside was a driveway and a car park with a new concrete building next to it. It actually fits in with it’s surroundings remarkably well. It also didn’t have a sign that I could see so I drove past it before realising it must be what I was looking for.
The cafe counter is the other half of the reception desk and is some sort of Starbucks concession. There is a choice of sofas, armchairs and tables and chairs. Overall the centre feels light and fresh and airy and it was a pleasant place to sit and drink tea in, even if the tea itself wasn’t so spectacular.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Big one that they hadn’t put out until I asked for it.
Cake? A few muffins and breakfast cereals.
Go again? Yes.
10-12 Church Road, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire, RG4 7AD.
Tea-total tea at the Griffin
We had been wandering along the river Thames and thought a trip to the pub would be very good. So we headed over the bridge and went to The Griffin. The Griffin is an old fashioned looking pub with beams and nooks, comfy seats and hops pinned to the ceiling. It’s also got an outside seating area but the weather was so good we couldn’t get a seat. Inside I decided what I really fancied was a pot of tea. I’m fine with ordering tea in pubs and bars, most places that serve food will serve you tea and the worst that can happen is that they say no.
Years ago, before every pub was open in the morning and had a coffee machine next to the spirits, a friend and I were at a gig in a pub in Kingston. We really wanted some tea, so we thought we’d take a chance and ask at the bar. They didn’t serve it, but we must have looked disappointed as the barman went upstairs to his flat, made us some tea in two of his mugs, and charged us 50p each. Standing at the back of the crowd watching the gig with a mug of tea is one of my fondest gig memories. Ah.
Anyway, R took some persuading that asking for tea at the bar wasn’t going to be frowned upon, but he did and I was very pleased with the result. The best bit, in my opinion, was that the teapot had a picture of a tea pot on the side and ‘ttotal’ underneath. Excellent.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes.
Price? Not sure, but less than £2.
Cake? No, but pudding and food etc.
Go again? Yes.
Regal Picturehouse, 2 Boroma Way, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2BZ
Tea at the Regal Picturehouse
The Regal Picturehouse is a cinema that serves drinks and tea and coffee in the upstairs bar. The large bay window and comfy seats are a nice way to say say goodbye to the sunshine before heading inside the darkened cinemas. The daffodils help too. The cinema’s pretty good as well!
The tea is okay, I just like the fact this cinema serves me tea.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes, a big one on the counter and you help yourself.
Cake? Sadly no, but it does have the best popcorn ever.
Go again? Yes, next time I go to see a film.
50 Bell St, Henley-on-Thames, RG9 2BG
Maison Brilliant is a French cafe in Henley upon Thames which actually lists tea as one of the things it sells on it’s sign by the door. This is a good sign (that’s an intentionally bad joke) that the tea will actually be drinkable.
We had been here once before and the tea was amazing. We talked about it, I dreamt about it, and we went back to Henley just to drink the tea (and to see Quantum of Solace, but really that was just the hook I used to get BF to come along too). Last time I ordered Darjeeling and BF ordered Earl Grey French Blue and I was jealous as the French Blue was smooth and lucious. This time we both ordered Earl Grey French Blue.
It was smooth and lovely, but we only got one small pot between us that yielded a cup and some dregs each. When BF went to pay, he was charged £5 for the pot – £2.50 each. I would have contested this as the price on the menu was per pot, but Bond was almost ready to start so we left with me huffing in indignation. If you go, order two different teas as you get twice as much. This works in almost all cafes too: a pot of tea for two rarely gives the same amount of tea as two pots for one. Despite the shock of the price the tea was brilliant (see? I did it again). Maison Brilliant serves the celebrated French tea brand Mariage Freres and also sells it loose – though no Earl Grey French Blue left when we were there. My new tea dream is to go to the Mariage Freres cafe in Paris.
Leaf tea? Yes, in an infuser ball.
Milk jug? Yes and also the good lump sugar.
Cake? They sell patisserie but at £4.95 we didn’t sample any.
Go again? Yes, but I’d order two varieties of tea to get my money’s worth.
Outside the tea room at Mapledurham House and Mill
It hasn’t been the best couple of weeks for tea drinking, I’ve just spent too much time at work to be able to indulge. There has been one ray of tea-coloured sunshine though, on the only sunny day in September that I didn’t have to be at work I managed to get to Mapledurham House and Mill. This is described as a ‘historic Thameside house and watermill’ and it was the perfect setting for some outdoors tea drinking. It’s also famous for being the setting of the film ‘The eagle has landed’ and starring in ‘The Fisher King’ episode of Midsummer Murders. Donald Sutherland and John Nettles have been here, what more reason do you need to go visit?
We went for a look round the mill first, I love mills, especially when they let you walk around inside and climb stairs like this one does. Mapledurham is the last working mill on the river Thames and you can arrive by boat if you so desire. We also had a look round the house and then headed back to the tea area. If the weather isn’t so bad you can sit indoors in one of two rooms, one of which has a portrait of the Queen Mum on the wall (this was much appreciated by BF).
The tea was not the best I’ve ever had, but the setting more than made up for it. It was warm and sunny and peaceful, I felt relaxed.
Teapot? Yes, two big metal teapots. This was proper tea.
Leaf tea? No.
Milk jug? Yes, with an offer of a refill if we needed it.
Price? Can’t remember but around £11 for 5 teas and 3 pieces of cake.
Cake? Yes, home made. And scones and cream. I went for a tub of Ginger and Honey Beechdean Ice Cream and it was delicious.
Go again? Definitely.