The tea for two includes a three tier cake-stand of finger sandwiches, scones, and a choice of cake, served with a pot of tea each. Choosing the tea was the hardest part - the tea menu is the most extensive I have ever come across, being several pages long. In the end I chose the chai, and my husband went for the Christmas blend. That might sound a little conservative, but I have tried many of their other teas on different occasions, and wanted something warming, festive, and that would complement the cake. The brewing and serving of the tea is meticulous, with strict instructions on brewing times and how to best enjoy the brew, and even a little sand-timer is provided to guide you.
The teas were delicious, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that the chai was the best I've ever had - the perfect ratio of spice, milk and sweetness. The Christmas blend was delightful also. Our cakes and sandwiches soon arrived, and it was an impressive array. The sandwiches were fairly substantial for an afternoon tea, with especially well chosen fillings. I enjoyed the brie and relish sandwich, whilst my husband really loved the chicken. Moving on to the sweet selection, I particularly liked the touch of the fresh berries served alongside the scones, and the chocolate truffles nestling amongst the cakes we had chosen. I had opted for the cranberry loaf, and my husband chose the chocolate cherry torte. The torte was divine. Incredibly rich, but utter heaven. The cranberry loaf was nice enough, very Christmassy, but a little heavy perhaps for such a slab of a serving. It was with the sweets that we ran into difficulty, in terms of available stomach-space. I couldn't manage my chocolate truffle, I left a few bites of my cranberry loaf, and I only attempted half a scone. The tea might not look as much as others in terms of choice, but in terms of portions, it was more than ample. I actually left quite a lot on the cake-stand, which is unlike me, greedy girl that I am.
The tea rooms themselves are modern, airy and bright, which doesn't particularly appeal to my old-fashioned sensibilities, but it wasn't uncomfortable. Similarly, the crockery is modern, and you're seated on Ikea-like furniture, with those horrid spot lights from above which make everyone look haggard. Staff were knowledgeable and friendly, and overall it was a pleasant atmosphere. The Penarth branch is fairly spacious compared to the one in Pen-y-Lan in Cardiff, which I recall feeling a little cramped.
If you can't make it to one of Waterloo Tea's three branches in Cardiff and Penarth, you can always treat yourself to ordering some of their loose-leaf tea from their online shop. They ship internationally, and their teas are some of the best I've had - and I've tried a lot of tea over the years. I've shopped at Waterloo Tea for many years. They stock a staggering range of teas, and they are always the perfect gift, or a little treat to oneself as a pick-me-up. In fact, now that it's January, you could purchase one of their beautiful white teas, such as the White Peach Blossom, and feel really virtuous and smug about your healthy choice. I'll still be drinking the chai and eating the cake.
Afternoon tea is available at all three of Waterloo Tea's branches in Cardiff and Penarth priced at £30 for two, and booking is essential.