Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Eteaket, Frederick Street, Edinburgh

While roaming New Town late at night, my friend L pointed out a basement cafe on Frederick Street.

"Have you been there? It serves all types of crazy teas!"

I hadn't been there, although their logo seemed familiar and I think I might have had a nose round their stall at Taste of Edinburgh. I was intrigued to see how they would compete with Edinburgh's other tea-based cafe, Loopy Lorna's. I resolved to check Eteaket out the next day. It's pronounced etty-qwet (as in good manners) but I can't help but see it as ee-teek-it.

View of Eteaket from Frederick Street

Despite going fairly late in the afternoon, the place was busy and the waitresses seemed distracted. I found a table in the corner, and was a bit annoyed as my table was a wrought iron patio type affair, whereas the other tables looked much more comfortable. The decor was stylish, but not particularly groundbreaking. As I was on my own, I was pleased to see a selection of current newspapers to keep me entertained too.

I ordered a White Peach tea, which arrived soon after. It was served in a very clever teapot design, that allowed the tea-leaves to circulate in a filter tube. Once the brewing time was over, the leaves could be sealed off from the tea. I was particularly impressed by this, as one of my pet hates is overbrewed tea. This is especially an issue when using a teapot, as you get a great first cup, but the second cup is bitter and nasty. The waitress also brought over an egg-timer, to brew the tea for the correct amount of time, and a pretty china cup and saucer.

White Peach Tea at Eteaket

The tea tasted a lot lighter and fresher than a standard tea, as it is a white tea, which is made from young tea leaves which are not oxidised and fermented the same way black teas are. It also had a very strong flavour of peaches, which was most apparent in the aftertaste. The website and menu don't really make clear if this is just a quirk of that particular tea, or if peaches have actually been added to the leaves. Given the strength, I would say there is probably some additional peach flavouring in the blend. The teapot held a litre of tea, and I got 4 or 5 cups worth, which was excellent value given that I'd only paid marginally more than I would have for a standard mug of breakfast tea in other cafes.

The next day, T and I were in town again as I had discovered some Lakeland vouchers left over from Christmas and wanted a bit of retail therapy. We also trekked round several bookshops looking for a certain book which none of them had, so I suggested another trip to Eteaket to recover!

This time I went for the Royal Earl Grey, and we shared a cream tea. The cafe was even busier today, so we were very lucky to get a table (a comfy one too!) almost straight away. However it took the waitresses some time to clear away the last guests' debris, something I had also noticed the day before. We followed the egg-timers, and as I am still unsure about whether I like Earl Grey, I went for a lighter brew than I would normally. However, mine was overbrewed and I had to add quite a lot of sugar to overcome the bitterness. I'd noticed a teapot sitting on the counter waiting to be served for a few minutes, so I suspect that mine was already brewed before it even reached the table.

Our cream tea was good, with two generous scones, one plain and one raisin. It also came with a good size portion of clotted cream and jam. I love clotted cream on scones, so I was happy to see this. The jam was a bit disappointing, as it was more of a "smooth style" jelly than a proper homely jam. It seemed strange to be serving rare teas, a wide range of patisserie and a specialist cream not really found at this end of the country, alongside a Tesco Value style jam. However, the range of sandwiches and pastries looked really good, and they had the banoffee tarts I had at the Breadwinner day!

T liked Eteaket, and pronounced it "less chaotic" than Loopy Lorna's. Although Loopy Lorna's looks very homely and amateurish, I thought the service there was much more efficient than at Eteaket. Tables weren't being cleared quickly, and orders took a while to arrive. It was also unclear whether people sitting in were meant to pay at the counter, or if that till was for take away orders. Loopy Lorna's has the upper hand in staff efficiency, and a more unique atmosphere, but Eteaket had a much more comprehensive tea selection, as well as an approach geared towards tea appreciation rather than straight-up drinking..

Overall, I enjoyed both my visits to Eteaket, and will probably go here rather than a chain coffee shop when in town. The service was a bit haphazard, but the tea was some of the best I've had in a while. They also had tea in caddies to take home, and a great selection of tea accessories (including this really cute teapot/cup).


Alison said...

Hi, came across your blog via the Edinburgh Blog and with the bad reviews Eteaket are getting, I don't think I'll bother ! Have you tried tea at the Bakehouse Co in Broughton Street ? It's served silver service and very nice. Happy food blogging :)

Alison said...

http://edinburghlove.com/2009/06/19/review-another-breakfast-at-the-bakehouse-company-broughton-street/ review and picture of the tea served at Bakehouse

eteaket said...

Hi. Just came across your blog – I’m the owner of eteaket and I’m pleased to hear you’ve largely enjoyed your trips to eteaket. I’ve recognised that our service has been a bit haphazard so am making changes to address this. We’ve recently introduced table service and are taking on more bodies to keep up with demand.

Sorry you had to sit on the ‘patio furniture’. I underestimated how many seats we’d need when we opened – we’ve been saving up for some more of our usual turquoise and pink furniture and they should be arriving over the next couple of months.

As for our White Peach tea, it does have some natural peach flavouring. We hope you become a regular so say hi the next time you’re in. Erica

Jenny said...

Alison: I wouldn't rule Eteaket out, the food and tea are good value and although the service wasn't top notch (yet) it was still better than you'd get in Starbucks (which seems to be pretty much the only option in town sometimes)!

Erica: I actually went again to Eteaket on Friday with my mum but I hadn't seen your comment until now! The staff were really friendly & knowledgeable every time, I think it's just a question of having a proper system for organising tables and enough people to do it. The logistics of running a busy cafe must be quite complicated, so I think you are doing a pretty great job given that you haven't been open too long :)

As for the patio furniture, it wasn't so bad, but I like sitting on pink renaissance style furniture more! ;)

Thanks for the info on the white peach tea, I might stop by and get a caddy to take home!