Sunday, 16 February 2014

Laura Kate - Cake Boutique and Tea Parlour

4pm, Saturday afternoon. Winding down and preparing to head home after a lovely lunch at a friend's house. Thoughts of a nap under a fuzzy blanket, and then an evening spent snuggled up with The Bear and a good book. Then one of my Tea Ladies pulls out an article from the local paper announcing the opening of a new tea room or, rather more precisely, Cake Boutique and Tea Parlour. It will take us 30 minutes to get there, and the Tea Ladies decide that it's worth the journey. So we abandon the menfolk to their own pursuits and head off towards the promise of tea and baked delights.

Laura Kate is located in Welwyn, Hertfordshire. The tea parlour is a smallish space, with practical table-and-chairs seating running the length of the shop, and a counter from which to order tea or purchase cakes to take away. The decor is elegant and uncluttered, a stylish modern look, but with small details - lace doilies, floral crockery - that give it a hint of country tea-room. A couple of fancy velvet chairs add a lush feel to the entire place, creating what Laura Kate herself calls 'a decadent cake experience'.

Laura Kate, company owner, is all smiles. The place is busy, but she has time to stop and chat about how things are going. All of her menus have disappeared - customers have just taken them! - so she has to tell us what is still available. She is almost out of cupcakes, and it's easy to see why. These things are beautiful, almost too attractive to eat!

Laura Kate has a basic selection of black teas and herbal tisanes on offer, but all loose-leaf, and served with care in pretty tea-for-one pots. I ordered the Ceylon, which I was told was Orange Ceylon. It supposedly has a burnt orange flavour but I'm not convinced. I think that what she has there is Orange Pekoe, which is a grading of tea, and not a flavour at all. It's a mistake that many people make when they don't know their teas well enough. The peppermint tea that CS ordered was strong and fresh, and the staff were happy to help when she asked for a jug of hot water so that she could top up the pot. The shop serves coffee too, so J ordered a latte. The cupcakes - I'm told by CS and J - were rich and sweet, and good enough for J to buy three more to take home for the menfolk to enjoy.

Closing time came around all too quickly. We would have been happy to sit and chat and drink tea for hours, and we'll definitely be going back soon, hopefully taking the rest of the Tea Ladies along with us.

Spur-of-the-moment tea tours: we should do more of them!

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