Afternoon Tea – Chinese style.

Lychee tea with Star Anise for a christmassy feel

On a quiet residential road near Notting Hill, the beautiful Teanamu Chaya Teahouse exists, hidden amongst towering Victorian houses. The Teahouse is actually Pei’s (the owner) house and we were warmly welcomed inside his small and cosy kitchen area with five tables in it. On arrival, we were given a list of probably thirty teas to choose from. As you can imagine, it was an extremely difficult decision to choose the perfect tea. Which is why it was useful when Pei asked if we wanted any help choosing, which we definitely did! But, not before he asked us two questions. Firstly, if we ever got cold hands or feet, even in summer. It was asked to find out if we were a Yin or Yang person, of which I discovered, I am a Yin because I have continually cold feet and hands all year round. And secondly, if we have any flavour teas we particularly like, to which I answered chai. So, as a cold handed Yin who likes Chai tea, I was recommended the exotic Lychee tea, with an added star anise and cloves, for a chritstmassy taste. It was delicious! I will definitely be going back for that…and probably buying some Lychee tea leaves next time I’m there.

We ordered the Dim Sum which contained two dumplings (with a chilly on top that I ate whole, not quite anticipating the strength of the chilly, queue coughing fit and watering eyes) and a leaf parcel with soft, sticky rice and nuts. Again, delicious! For desert, a mango cake, with a runny mango sauce lightly drizzled over the top. Mmmmmm… interestingly, it appeared that there was no food already prepared, everything was made in front of us in the kitchen by Pei and his partner. So much care and effort was put into service, it was refreshing to see a service that is home-made and fresh – not forced or pretentious.

The presentation was delicate and detailed, every table laid out symmetrically and coordinated; attentive owners made the experience personal. After inquiring about how the chinese tea pots were made, Pei came over to our table to tell us how and gave us one of his books to look at which described the process of making chinese teapots. He even offered to translate the book for us, as it was all written in chinese. Time was made for every customer in the Teahouse.

There was no rushing to get our money and free up our table, it was slow-paced and relaxing. The best service and tea I’ve ever had.


The trusty brand: Caffè Nero.

Everyone loves finding a unique place to eat, drink and socialise. You can then call it ‘your place’, YOU found it first…you liked it before it was cool. Hence why I have this part of my blog completely devoted to cafè’s and food…and also, well, I love coffee! Fear not, my quest to keep on finding panini and cake filled treasure troves will continue, but, for the next few lines, I won’t be looking any farther than my local, trusty brand: Caffè Nero.

Caffè Nero – ‘Nero’s’ for short – is the place I want to go to relax, on a leather worn sofa, next to a window when it’s raining outside…and smugly chuckle to myself at the shelter-scrambling passers-by. Cruel, I know. If you’re thinking to yourself, as you read this, that you’ve never people watched, you are seriously missing out. Probably one of the worlds greatest small pleasures.

I digress, sorry.

So, Nero’s. Going into your favourite coffee branded shop is like slipping on an old jumper; its comfortable and brings back a few memories too. My first date, slaving away over revision cards and some unforgettable conversations (to say the least) with friends – all have happened within the walls of my local Nero’s.

Maybe it’s the jazz cd playing faintly in the background, maybe it’s the décor or, maybe, it’s my soft spot for their mocha.

Perhaps Nero’s is to me what Central Perk was to the Friends gang.

…Well, it seems that way, from what I can gather. As I’ve probably only watched three episodes of Friends in my life. Yes, I’m one of those few people in the world that doesn’t watch Friends. I can already hear the ‘Whaaaatt?’ in your head. But that story is for another day.