Comins Tea House - Bath
No matter where I am in the world, I always make time for tea! True to my word, Scott and I did just that last Saturday lunchtime, whilst enjoying a quiet, lazy weekend in Bath. It's actually so nice to have a low-key weekend every now and then; with no social commitments, rushing about from A to B, or motoring across country to meet with family. To just be able to chill out and catch up on the weekend papers, and stroll down into the city with no real purpose. Well, this was certainly one of those weekends, and we made the most of the downtime we had together. What better way to kickstart a weekend like that, than with a visit to the newly opened Comins Tea House on Monmouth Street! I heard, via my Twitter feed, that Comins Tea House was coming to Bath, opening its doors on Wednesday 16th March. I am a huge supporter of local, independent coffee shops and tea houses, rather than spending my money in the larger, 'chains' that tend to dominate our high streets. Especially when I read that a single cup of coffee can contain up to 25 spoonful's of sugar. Surely that's enough to put anyone off of those particular coffee shops, right?! So, I was excited to experience what Comins Tea House had to offer; serving up freshly brewed tea to the good people of Bath!
Seated by the window, (a bloggers tip: always find a seat as near to natural daylight as possible, you'll take much brighter, crisper photos this way) we were presented with the menu. Rob Comins (Fine Tea Merchant and co-founder of Comins Tea House) walked us through his tea menu, teaching us so much about tea, that we left with much more knowledge on the subject than when we came in. He guided us on what to sample and perhaps what to avoid, after learning what flavours we liked (I prefer milder teas rather than the bitter kind) and with that, our delicious teas soon arrived...
I was advised to try the 'Sencha Karigane Tea,' (£3) which is a "light, refreshing, focusing tea. From the tea gardens of Uji, Kyoto, Japan." (www.cominsteahouse.co.uk) This tea is apparently a good introduction to those of us who are new to green tea, suiting me down to a 'T' then! A useful tip we learnt from Rob was that, green teas "are made from unoxidised leaves," the result being a tea that actually tastes lighter and more fragrant.
We noticed that the kettles of hot water that arrived to the table had small stickers with '80°C' jotted on them. We were informed that this is the perfect temperature to set the water at, as the leaves will not burn or scold once the water hits them. Setting the temperature so accurately prevents the tea from being overpowered by bitter-tasting flavours that would otherwise be released. Instead, the sweet, complex notes from the leaves can be identified. My tea was poured and the timer switched on for 1 minute, giving the tea the perfect time to brew!
Soon after, I was sipping my very first Japanese green tea. There were grassy, seaweed notes that lingered after each sip, but it was refreshing and smooth and a very pleasant surprise! I will certainly be heading back for more!
I loved the tea cups which they sell at the tea house (think I may be back for one or two of those!) There is something so sweet about cradling a cup of tea in your hands, as long as the water isn't piping hot of course! Thankfully, because the water was set at 80°C, it meant I was able to hold the cup comfortably and warm my fingers without scolding my skin!
Scott tried the 'Zomba Pearls Satemwa,' (£3.60) which we read, is simply "Rolled white tea with a buttery texture." If you are no tea connoisseur, like us, then you may be interested to know that white tea is the lightest, most delicate tea to drink. White tea is "mostly produced in China and is made from leaf buds that are covered with white hairs. The new white tea buds are plucked before they open in early Spring, then withered and dried slowly at low temperatures." (www.thefragrantleaf.com) This gives you a tea that is mild in flavour, similar to camomile tea, that is fresh and has a natural sweetness.
The 'Zomba Pearls Satemwa' is left to brew for a little longer to ensure all the sweet flavours are released. Scott had to wait an extra 2 minutes for his brew!
We were feeling peckish so ordered a couple of yummy bites from the menu. We shared the most amazing homemade 'Pork with Ginger, Cabbage and Spring Onion' gyoza's which came accompanied with a spicy chilli dip and sweet soy sauce.
We soon realised that we could easily have ordered one each as they were gone within an instant!
For a sweet alternative, we tried the 'Toasted Japanese Hokkaido Milk Bread' (£2.25) served with a thick cinnamon butter begging to be slathered over the toasted bread...
So, I did just that!
Another winner, absolutely delicious and the perfect accompaniment to our teas.
We resisted trying the scones and muffins of the day, (not sure where the willpower came from!) but it gives us an excuse to pop back to Comins Tea House soon.
If you are a tea lover, then simply look no further! Grab your friends or family, and treat them to a light lunch over the Easter weekend. Rob also mentioned that he and his knowledgable brigade run tea tasting courses onsite; sample a selection of different teas for just £15 per person, and learn all about the art of tea in an hour. An alternative, informal, fun way to entertain a small hen party perhaps? I'm actually planning on doing just that in April! Take a look at their website: www.cominsteahouse.co.uk, and, pay them a visit on Monmouth Street the next time you're passing by...