Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Spoiled Tea Woman and the Tea Shops

Okay, I will now admit that I am thoroughly spoiled about tea. Oh yeah. I did not take my water filter to Cape Cod because it would have to be taken off the faucet, I'd have to find the doohicky that would fit it to another faucet, etc. etc. I did take a couple of my favorite teas and a teapot. First morning, I make my tea, "Aargh, it's disgusting," so I settle for coffee, neither happily nor silently. I went and bought bottled water, having no clue what to buy. Now the tea tastes like tarnished copper. I try another brand, it's back to disgusting. I settle for coffee and try to go to tea shops, vowing next time I will take some sort of filter for my tea or find the right kind of bottled water.

Speaking of tea shops, I did manage to hit three of them, all quite different. The first was Beth's Special Teas in Sandwich. This was a small charming cafe with kind of a "front porch" decor of old chairs and tables and lots of whitewash and summery curtains. The tea was Harney's, loose-leaf and always top notch. There were lots of baked goods for our "Elevenses" and I chose a cannoli since they didn't come already filled. Sadly, it was just okay, as the baker had put too much confectioner's sugar in the filling and I could taste the cornstarch. The shell was nice and crisp, however. Never buy a cannoli that is already filled, they're a soggy mess.

The next was a real disappointment. The Tea Shoppe of Mashpee Commons is very nicely decorated in blues and yellows, with attractive tea-related pictures on the wall.. Service was quite slow, we had to wait nearly ten minutes to be seated although we were the only people waiting and there were a number of empty tables. The menu concentrated on "Old Cape Cod " food and afternoon tea, which I, of course, had. I also ordered the house blend tea, which came as an over-stuffed tea bag, making the tea weak and bland. A second pot was merely a wash of the first - colored water. The waitress had to be reminded twice to bring me some cream. My scone arrived first and was dry. The Devonshire cream wasn't really, and was ever so slightly off, but the raspberry preserves were exquisitely good. When the sandwiches and desserts finally arrived, they were very nicely presented, but we could smell the onion in the chicken salad before it arrived. The desserts were pretty and imaginatively presented, but not very tasty. It was all not very good. However, in the shop part, there were a host of teapots and accessories, good teas by Mark T. Wendell and pretty "tea-shirts", so all was not lost.

However, the third restaurant we visited was a real gem. The Dunbar Tea Room, also in Sandwich, presents an outwardly plain front. Inside, however, it is quite elegant, with pale green walls and cream trim. We'd all had a very late breakfast, so we weren't up for much. Our friend, Marcel ordered scones and cream and we had crumpets, those holey buttery griddle cake wonders. We each had our own pot of tea, Marcel's was a Formosa Oolong and mine Ice Wine. Himself had a really good and spicey Ginger Black, very well balanced. The service was excellent and comfortable-friendly. The scones were moist and buttery, the crumpets yummy and the jam was superb. The Oolong was a heavy roast, which is not my cup of tea, although I could tell it was quite good and the Ice Wine was delicious, winey, floral and with a touch of pineapple. Well worth going to. What I could see of other people's orders looked really good.

Coming and going, you had the opportunity to indulge your need for yet another teapot, accessory or tin of tea. Dunbar's carried top brands, such as Harney's, Grace Fine Teas, Mark T. Wendell and others of that ilk. I bought a tin of their own special blend, a cranberry/almond mix, which you will hear about soon.

Much farther out, in Truro, we hit the Atlantic Spice Company, a foodie's piece of heaven. Just to smell all the wonderful spices and herbs was a super treat, as were the low prices. I have gotten stuff from them before and been very pleased with the quality. Marcel and I got huge bags of necessities and then traded. Frank found spice jars and other things for me, including a teapot to replace my go-to everyday favorite which I broke just after we moved. They had teas as well, but only in one pound packets, which were very inexpensive - all less than $10 a pound, but what if I didn't like it? Expensive mulch. So I left them there. They had a large collection of tea pots, creamers, T-sacs and other tea utensils, all at very good prices.


lahikmajoe said...

I like this sort of post. It's exactly the sort of thing I blog about when I travel.

Good post.

Bernideen said...

Oh Marlena- this was fun to read. Did you buy Harpestry at Tea Time at the Dunbar? i know she plays the harp there sometime or at least has in the past. We sell it in our store and I love it as it is very restful. You had such a wonderful trip!
Do you follow Lines at Linderhof? Martha just spent a month in England.