As you may have gathered from my previous reviews, I am not the sort of person who enjoys things like cupcakes, dressing up like a 50s housewife or anything describable as “kooky”. That said, it might surprise you to learn that I’ve been visiting Eteaket since it opened.
Why is this? Well, part of the reason is it’s just so damn convenient. Nestled in a basement on Frederick Street, Eteaket attracts shoppers, students, tourists and locals alike to its unprepossessing white doors. It’s always stuffed to the gills, though, especially at the weekends – we chose a relatively quiet Friday afternoon for our visit and it was still bustling. Inside there’s a bright, bold colour scheme of white, teal and hot pink (it sounds worse than it is, really), ruined only by the phrase “Keep Calm And Have A Cup Of Tea” stuck to one wall. If you can avoid looking at it and twitching – harder than it sounds, since the opposite wall is mirrored – then the rest of the decor won’t raise your blood pressure too much. A nod to vintage of course, but done in a modern enough way not to come over as too mimsy.
Anyway, to the main event. The tea at Eteaket is consistently excellent. There’s a simple system in place; you order your tea and they bring it to your table with a sand-timer – when the sand runs out, it’s ready to drink. (I honestly have no idea why other tea shops don’t do this, preferring to make you play some kind of tea-based cross between a game of chicken and Russian Roulette just to find out whether it’s brewed enough). There are some rare and interesting varieties on offer; my tasting partner chose Organic Silver Needle, which had a floral bouquet with notes of melon and a lovely smooth finish. I had my favourite Earl Gray Vert, a blend of sencha green tea with bergamot oil and citrus. The classics are well-chosen too, the Royal Earl Gray in particular is light and fresh, with tiny blue cornflowers strewn throughout the leaves.
There’s a good selection of cakes, although in the past the quality has been inconsistent. Today’s scone was a delight, however, light and moist with a good amount of fruit and that all-important crispy brown top. For a real treat, there’s afternoon tea, served on a three-tiered stand with sandwiches, scones, miniature patisserie desserts and the palpable envy of everyone in the café who isn’t having it too. Tea with a side of schadenfreude, if you will.
What’s great about Eteaket is not only do they seem to really care about tea, even creating their own special blends (I’d recommend the Rooibos Creme Caramel in particular), but they’re also passionate about making it interesting and accessible to everyone. I might take issue with the number of times the word “lovely” appears on the signs in their shop, but the effervescent passion it shows is contagious and when it’s paired with attention to detail, attentive staff and a sense of wanting to be part of the community, it becomes hard to fault.