I remember following owner David Le Masurier’s Twitter account and blog eagerly awaiting the opening of Pettigrew Tea Rooms. Despite it only having been open for just over two years, Pettigrew Tea Rooms feels like it has been around forever as it fits into it’s situation perfectly. It is a vintage style tea rooms in a historic building and this is reflected by the name which is taken from the original head gardener of Bute Park where the tea rooms are situated. The vintage feel of the tea rooms is perfect; from the decoration and fittings to the teaware. The music playing quietly in the background adds to the atmosphere too.
The teas on offer at Pettigrew come from Tea Palace. I have visited their retail shop in London myself and I have some of their teas in my tea cupboard. Tea Palace is a reasonable quality loose leaf tea to find in a tea rooms that does not source its own tea. My husband and I were only going to order one pot of tea between us but we were very politely informed that customers are generally expected to order a pot each. When we asked if we could have our second pot a bit later on (so we would share two different teas) they were happy to oblige. With the politeness of how we were told we were more than happy to order the second pot later on.
We first opted for Russian Caravan to have with our cakes. I adore smokey flavours and therefore do enjoy a nice smoked black tea. Lapsang Souchong was also on offer but as I was sharing the pot with my husband I went for the least smokey of the two. I really enjoyed it as it is robust and smokey enough to have with a cake but not too overpowering. Some teas that are smoked badly can taste tarry but I didn’t find this at all with the Russian Caravan. I drink all tea without milk or sugar and I don’t think the Russian Caravan needs them at all! Tea Palace Russian Caravan is a blend of smoked Chinese black teas. It’s a bit of a shame that Tea Palace don’t offer a bit more information about the origin of the tea but this didn’t detract from our enjoyment at all.
All the cakes are baked in house and there is plenty of choice!
I had the Banana Chai cake and my husband went for the Earl Grey, Honey and White Chocolate cake. As tea obsessives we enjoy everything to do with tea, including baking with it! So when we saw these cakes we had to pick them and they were both delicious.
We ordered our second pot of tea when we had finished our cake. After a robust first choice (and such decadent cakes!) we decided to go for the Darjeeling. On the tea menu it doesn’t state the flush (the time of year picked) but upon serving we were told that it was second flush. It is a nice delicate tea with a really refreshing floral flavour and was a perfect choice to have after some cake. It was nice to see that the estate (Selim) is advertised. This shows that it is a single estate tea and I am always interested in the traceability of the tea I am drinking. Water is actively offered for additional pots and we decided to have a second infusion of the Russian Caravan as Darjeeling can be a bit too delicate to infuse more than once.
The teaware at Pettigrew is all mismatching vintage china cups, plates and pots. I do love mismatching tea cups and it is a joy to drink from them. Our tea was served in the traditional British way of placing the tea leaves in the pot and using a tea strainer over the cup. This was the main reason we wanted to share a teapot as we didn’t want the tea to over-infuse. (I have since discovered that Pettigrew did trial pots with removable infusers but there was outcry as people wanted the vintage tea strainer experience back. Also, I now know that are a few of the teapots with removable infusers available upon request. I will definitely be quietly requesting one next time.) I found the temperature of the water good so removing the leaves would mean I’d enjoy the tea even more… even if it does conflict with the vintage feel. Pettigrew excels at customer service both in person, and on social media, and I think this teapot business really shows this! They try their best to please everyone.
Upon leaving I had a quick visit to the Bute Park gift shop which is accessible through the tea rooms where, along with lots of lovely bits, you can buy vintage teaware and Tea Palace teas to take home. This is great as it means no delivery costs or a trip to London to get some. If you are in London though I do recommend a visit to the Tea Palace Covent Garden store!
Just as we were about to leave I spotted the Violet and Lemon cake out of the corner of my eye. I enjoy baking with floral flavours just as much as tea and, when I was informed that it was new that day, I had to buy some to take home. It was given to me in a degradable box. I had it for my pudding later that evening with some Canton Tea Ayra Ruby First Flush Darjeeling. The cake was one of the best cakes I have ever eaten. The violet flavour was the perfect strength and the sharpness of the lemon really complemented it well. I chose Darjeeling to drink with it as it is delicate and refreshing and goes really well with both floral and citrus flavours.
[Pettigrew Tea Rooms were not aware that I was going to write a blog post]