Mystery Tea House, Preston

Ah, the Great British summer, a wonderful time of the year. Naturally being the day I’d planned to go for drinks with my friend, Chiv (not his real name, though there was a point when I really didn’t know what his name actually was, and I just knew him as Chiv,) it had decided to absolutely chuck it down. Deciding to add insult to injury, my trainers chose this rainy day to fall apart, so I had to go buy replacement trainers and socks. I wasn’t in a good mood. There is a cure for a bad mood, however. That cure is tea. There is nothing bad about tea, it warms you up on a cold day, it refreshes you on a hot day, it’s subtle caffeine levels will wake you up gently in the morning and coos soothing words into your ear, unlike coffee which just kicks you square in the face and throws you right into the day. Also, coffee is horrible (ooh, look at me stirring up controversy.)

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The Mystery Tea House on Cannon Street in Preston is the perfect place to go when you are a bit cheesed off, and need a brew, and a spot of comfort food. Usually I have tea and a toastie, but I think talking about a toasted sandwich would be a bit ridiculous, so I resolved to have something different this time!

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Chivnail and I* went upstairs, as we often do, made ourselves comfortable and began perusing the tea menu, and had a look at the artwork from local artists on the walls. The Mystery Tea House has over 120 different varieties of tea… and yerba mate (horrible stuff and I refuse to call it tea), it’s a tea drinkers dream place. If you don’t know what tea to go for, ask them and they will advise you. If I was just having a brew, I’d go with a tea with added flavours, but since I was having food, I decided to go with Assam, my favourite tea of all, Chiv went for the Russian Caravan.

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One thing I like about the Mystery Tea House, is that things happen at a sedentary pace, it’s not the sort of place you would visit if you were in a rush, it’s not slow service, it’s just relaxed, and that makes me feel comfortable, just know that you could be waiting about 10 minutes for your brews to arrive, and another 10 minutes after that for food.

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Food arrived after I’d had my first cup of the smoky, malty Assam, and I was feeling better already. I’d ordered the Bigos/Hunter Stew (pictured above), described on the menu as a “real delight, made with cabbage, sauerkraut, herbs, with a different variation of smoked meat and spices”, and Chiv had ordered the pea soup (below), which had chunks of kabanos sausage through it. These were accompanied by a basket of bread and butter (we were told we could ask for more, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to ask for any more)

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Lets be honest, this sort of food is never going to win a beauty contest, but the beauty is on the inside with delicious and warming soups and stews, and that’s what counts. I had a taste of Chiv’s pea soup, and it was savoury, and had that old fashioned split pea soup taste, and the sausages imparted an extra meaty taste to it. It was also bloody hot, and I learned that trying to get soup to stay on a knife is hard work, (note for next time; bring my own cutlery so I can steal a taste of friend’s food, if I don’t have the appropriate cutlery myself.) I fell in love with my bowl of stew, it was delicately spicy, and warmed me up. I no longer cared that it was bucketing it down outside, I had comfort food. The smoked sausage throughout it had an unusual flavour I’d not tasted before, but I loved it, and was digging through the stew looking for these nuggets of tasty meat like a pig looking for truffles. I wish I knew the recipe for this, because I would love to make it at home when the weather starts to turn (about mid-August.)

Our stomachs suitably lined, we were ready for a few beers in some of Preston’s fantastic pubs. We went downstairs to pay, and as if just to show how lovely this place is, the owner gave me my shades I’d left at the tea house last time I visited (they were only £1 Primarché shades, so I’d just chalked it down to showing how forgetful I was, and a good reason why I should never spend more than £1 on shades.) Being remembered is always lovely, and it’s this attention to their customers that has people coming back again and again (that and the lovely food, and brilliant selection of teas.)

So, if you’re ever in Preston and fancy a brew, and you’re sick of that low quality tea, made from the steamed water from the coffee machine (any tea drinker knows that the water should be freshly drawn, and then boiled for tea), that you get at coffee shops (boooo, hisssss,) you should definitely visit The Mystery Tea House.

Cost

A pot of Assam tea, and a bowl of Bigos, with bread : £8.10

*If you got that reference, you win points

NB: I’ve decided to do away with the “score” out of ten bit. I’m finding it hard to really give a score, so I’m just relying on my actual review to tell you what I think of a place.
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