Credit: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

Pekoetea Cafe

I walked into Pekoetea wanting nothing more than a breakfast tea with a dash of milk. What other way is there to drink it? According to this cafe there are hundreds.

When I ask for a cup of tea I'm given, not a tray and saucer, but a menu. A whole menu devoted to tea. At first I was daunted: how is it possible to choose between a Jasmine Yin Hao or a Jasmine Dragon Pearl? Flicking quickly through the pages I search desperately for a name I recognise; to see the words English Breakfast or even Earl Grey would be a welcome escape.

Embarrassed to let on that I don’t know my Orange Blossom Oolong from my Ti Kuan Yin Oolong, I am tempted to play a quick game of ip dip do to decide what to drink. Ip dip do, the cats got flu, the dogs got...half way through I realise I’m being stupid and just need to ask the barista what she would recommend. I needn't have worried; the barista is friendly, knowledgable and not the slightest bit patronising. She leads me through a series of questions to decide which tea would be best - she does a good job, as my tea knowledge is so poor I struggle to answer even the most basic questions. By some round about route we decide that a Chinese Green Tea, ‘Lung Ching Dragon Tea’ is the perfect cup for me. At this stage I’m still a little skeptical.

Now that I’ve ordered I can sit back and enjoy the atmosphere of the café; the light, fresh tea aroma, the mismatched chairs and softly played music give it a relaxed and quirky feel. It is small, but not awkwardly quiet and the free wifi makes it easy to work.

The prices are those of a self-service cafe, yet the barista serves me and tells me to ask if I want a free refill. I was expecting a mug, but instead I am given a glass tea pot and small, bowl shaped glass. It somehow doesn’t seem right to drink tea out a glass - I only ever do it as a last resort if there are no clean mugs in the flat. The biggest novelty though is the tea timer; I have to watch until the sand has trickled through and three minutes is up before drinking. Who knew making perfect tea was such a delicate art?

I surprise myself by enjoying the tea; it makes a change to the hundreds of English teas I have bought and could have easily made at home. All the typical buzzwords - fresh, light, energising, unique - could easily apply.

Two men come in and sit down on a table just along from me; it is clear as they talk through the menu that they know there tea. When their tea arrives I am envious: they each have a small wooden board with an earthenware tea pot, a pretty, white and blue china jug and a miniature china bowl. As they raise the tiny bowls to their lips, I smile at how easily they could swallow the whole thing, china included. It looks as if they’re drinking from a children’s tea party set.

They seem to love the tea though, as they ask for a refill and the barista brings over the kettle; she spills it all over the top of the tea pot and I think it’s the kind of clumsy thing I would manage to do. As she continues to pour, I register that this is no accident but an intended part of the process. In only half an hour I’ve learnt that I am lying when I say I’m a tea lover: I know nothing about tea.

Picking up the menu again, I read more carefully through it; there is a page of normal teas, coffees and hot chocolates, which I missed in my panic, and I see a few unusual teas I would like to try. The chocolate flavoured tea which is described as, ‘Ceylon black tea with natural chocolate flavouring’ sounds incredible, as do the Chinese Flowering teas, which blossom in the pot.

Pekeotea is great. The prices are exceptionally reasonable - you get a pot and free refills for the price of one mug in Starbucks - and the unusual cups, trays and flavours are a great novelty for those of us used to drinking Twinings out of a chunky mug.

T: 0131 477 1838

Leven St, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH3 9LJ
Eat & Drink