The Tea Box

Richmond, Surrey

Serious about its cuppas, this cosy café owes much to owner Jemma Swallow's enthusiasm for fragrant infusions and floral aromas.

As testament to her zeal, an entire wall is devoted to black-lidded canisters filled with prime pickings from the world's famed tea gardens. Sited where the now-defunct Chocolate Café used to be, it has retained the family friendly vibe of its predecessor; but if you're after a mug of milky builder's brew, head elsewhere.

Despite the weighty chandelier and impressive tea chest, it's a homely spot furnished with a mélange of antique-style furniture. No fanciful experiments with food, either; locally made scones, flapjacks, sticky gingerbread, plus lunchtime salads and sandwiches fill any gaps between pick-me-up brews.

Top marks to the butter-kissed cheese scones, and adventurous pumpkin scones with a kick of chilli. Ribena-like in appearance, blackcurrant and hibiscus tea sparkled in a transparent glass teapot. We were treated to a deliciously fruity beverage (think essence of posh wine gums), bursting with natural sweetness.

Equally impressive, green leaf tea, scented with hints of jasmine, restored and revived. As far as gizmos go, we loved the mini tea-timer plonked on the table with every pot - great for clocking the strength of brews. Next time, we'll linger over a wedge of Victoria sponge and enjoy the delicacy of first flush Darjeeling tea. Then maybe we'll play croquet in Richmond Park afterwards.

Venue name: The Tea Box
Address: 7 Paradise Road

Transport: Tube: Richmond tube/rail
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