The upside: One of the most interesting loose-leaf tea menus in Surrey!
The downside: Closed on Sundays
The flipside: A lovely independent selling a menu that embraces single blend teas with locally produced food
This café is as its name suggests is all about tea. Carolynne Farrer (a former HR specialist) always dreamed of owning her own tea business. Made redundant a few years ago she chatted with her sister about her idea. Convinced she was all talk her sister remarked that she would never actually do it. This was the challenge that Carolynne needed and TEA is now 1 year old.
Located in historical Reigate, on the High Road the interior has been playfully created to give a vintage retro feel. The counter is painted red and decorated with old knitting patterns. These are so evocative to me of childhood especially if you had a knitting crazy granny like me.
Here you will find that all aspects of the small but delightful menu have been carefully devised. The kitchen is very small so the menu reflects this. Tea (some organic) Organic coffee (from Beanberry) and proper hot chocolate dominate the drinks menu. On the food side its doorstop sandwiches featuring local cheeses. High Weald for Sister Sarah goats cheese and Sussex Charmer from Bookhams are just 2 examples.
Tea is the specialty here so I chose a pot of Chinese Jasmine Silver Needle. All teas are loose-leaf and placed into an unbleached filter to brew. Each variety needs different times to infuse so are served with a timer and brew time advice. You can find a full description of all the teas on the website but staff here are keen to share their knowledge and discuss options. Tea comes from an independent tea merchant in Winchester who share their knowledge and passion for this unique drink with Carolynne. The tea menu is divided into normal (£2), special (£2.50) and superior (£3.75) for a generous pot. My tea was deliciously aromatic and soothingly smooth to drink.
To eat I selected a Welsh Rarebit made with one of my favourite cheeses Sussex Charmer (£3.75). The cheese here is combined with herb mustard and Worcester sauce and was deliciously satisfying. Bread is from the Chalet Bakery an independent business in Tadworth. My companion Sarah from ‘Little Spice’ had a doorstep sandwich with Sister Sarah goats cheese. This was served with a salad garnish and vegetable crisps (£5.25). The sandwich menu changes weekly featuring local produced ingredients. Other menu items include home-made soup (changing daily) with bread (£4.75) or a Ploughmans served with pickles, local fruit chutney and oatcakes (£6.75). Generous portions make this a value for money destination too!
To finish Sarah chose a pot of Organic coffee and a rich chocolate brownie. So although this is a tea room coffee drinkers won’t be disappointed served in a cafetiere (my favourite style) as Carolynne didn’t want the aroma of coffee to dominate the venue. With coffee you get to choose your roast too! I had a slice of gluten free orange and polenta cake. It was rich, moist and intensely orangey. Made by a local baker the cakes change during the week and are displayed tantalisingly under glass cake stands (£2-£3.50) .
If you like me get mightily fed up with predictable high street chains, Tea in Reigate will give you a refreshingly different experience.Fresh locally produced food, fabulous tea menu and lovely people, it is well worth a visit.
For high tea reservations call 01737246251
Thanks to Sarah from ‘Little Spice’ for introducing me to this great tea-house!