It seems that people have a preference for either tea or coffee as their beverage of choice. The drivers for this can vary. For example I think my Clipper breakfast tea in a bag makes a pretty good cuppa but I’ve never really been satisfied with any kind of instant coffee and don’t really have the patience to use an espresso machine at home. Instead, I reserve my coffee drinking for those wonderful independent coffee shops that I’m discovering all over the South East. Increasingly if I can’t get a good independent brew then I’d rather abstain than waste money on a Costabucks.
By contrast I often find tea to be a disappointing choice of hot beverage. It seems that even in coffee shops that pride themselves on procuring the best beans with the finest roast that when it comes to tea it often feels like the tea is the neglected child! A recent notable exception was My Cloud Coffee, see my recent post.Against this gloomy background for discerning tea drinkers I recently discovered a joyous beacon of light in the form of Orange Pekoe, an exceptional tea shop just a stones throw from the Thames Path between Mortlake and Barnes in South West London.
If you feel like indulging in a traditional afternoon tea and don’t want the formality of stuffy white tablecloths but do want top notch China teas served in fine bone china cups and saucers then this is the place to head to. At 4pm on a Sunday the place was packed so we opted to al fresco it due to the unseasonably mild weather.
We opted for the cream tea; served with clotted cream as you’d expect but not always guaranteed by some establishments, don’t you just feel cheated when it’s whipped double cream! Scones were fruity, warmed and on the right side of moist. They also have an excellent selection of cakes and if you go for the full monty afternoon tea, served on an impressive cake stand to add a sense of occasion.
Feeling peckish I was also seduced by the chicken salad brioche roll with red cabbage slaw, delicious!
But the real star is the tea. I opted for the Earl Grey. Arriving at our table correctly infused so that additional stirring was not required, this was a blend of fine black China tea with a noticeable robust tang of Bergamot. This was an Earl Grey with gumption! So enjoyable that I wanted to finish the generous three cups that the pot yielded.
The perfect tea for two!