Tea Tree Tea 13 Bread Street, Edinburgh EH3 9AL 0131 228 3100
Head away from Princes Street and the usual suspects of Starbucks and Costa, and take the quick 5 minute walk from the West End up Lothian Road to Bread Street and visit the wonderful ‘Tea Tree Tea’.
I’ve spent a lot of time here over the last few months, all with different people – my family, friends, visitors to the city who have all enjoyed their Tea Tree Tea experience. I’ve also happily sat in there on my own reading a book with a decent cuppa in my hands.
Visit their website where you can read about the history of Tea Tree Tea and order tea products online if you’re not from Edinburgh. The owners, Jamie Russell and Drew Buchanan, are old school friends and their friendship is obvious as they serve their customers in a double-act fashion. Completing the Tea Tree Team are Lindsay and Louise, who welcomed and bid farewell to every customer as they came and went during my afternoon there.
The staff know their tea, that’s for sure. There is a huge selection of tea and drinks on offer ranging from world wide teas such as formosa oolong and rooibos to Friceteas and coffees. The entire range can lead to indecisiveness over which tea to have, but the patience and advice on hand helps you choose the right tea for you, sampling them by smell if necessary.
When you enter the shop, you feel like you’ve walked into a big friendly kitchen cum lounge with chairs and tables of all varieties and comfort, reminiscent of Central Perk from US comedy Friends. There are good working tables if you are taking advantage of the free wifi (fast connection) or writing. I like the different choices of furniture, something suitable for everyone and all comforts with plenty of room around them allowing for buggies and prams etc. Highchairs are also available.
Prices start at a reasonable £2.00 for a pot (2-3 cups). When sitting in, the tea you choose is brewed to perfection before they serve it at your table for you to experience the full flavour. The cakes and tray bakes are to die for, and I speak from experience. I can’t really see past the honeymoon slice or carrot cake, but endeavour to try them all. No worries for those with wheat intolerance, there is even a gluten free option of cake. Prices start from £1.50.
Take away customers pay £1.50 for a breakfast tea ‘to go wee’ and £1.70 for tea ‘to go large’. Be sure to pick up a loyalty card, buying nine teas earns you one free (sit in and take away).
A selection of savoury sandwiches and paninis are offered alongside the soup of the day.
After 2pm you can opt for the popular afternoon tea. This consists of a sandwich, scone or loaf cake, a tray bake slice and a pot of tea for £8. This is good value and the cake stand it’s served on is classy and not a replica of something your Great Aunt Nellie would have used.
The music played in the shop is mixed, all easy listening. A book exchange has recently started, which has a varied selection of titles in good condition – simple rules apply of dropping one off in exchange for one from the shelves. The downstairs seating can be booked to enable business meetings, groups of friends, sitting 10-15 comfortably. There is no charge for reserving the space, but it’s on the understanding that drinks will be bought. In addition, local artists and photographers can display their work for a month at a time (including an opening or closing night) only paying a small commission for any work sold.
As I sat anonymously, pondering this review, I saw a staff member help a tourist with her computer and when she didn’t have the technical know how, she enlisted the help of the owner of the neighbouring computer shop to fix it. The tourists were delighted with their service and that was before they tasted the tea and cakes !
I can’t express how good this place is, with exceptional service which is getting harder to find in Edinburgh these days. The team members are happy to work there and their good mood is reflected in the laid back atmosphere.
I will always opt for here if I am in town as it’s only a short walk from the Castle, the Grassmarket, Lothian Road, West End and well worth the few minutes to get there. Ignore the Starbucks and Costas of this world and try a local place for a nice cup of tea and for that, you need look no further than Tea Tree Tea.
Suitable for disabled ? There is one step up to the shop, but the staff are more than happy to assist with wheel chairs and help you inside (they are strapping lads after all) There is plenty of room to manoeuvre once inside. Unfortunately the bathrooms are located downstairs.