True tea rooms are hard to find in this coffee-focused country. Like with wine, the Dutch are developing their nose for tea. To my greatest surprise, the local bar De Gruter served me proper tea - you could even see the leaves!
If you too enjoy a proper cup of tea, the venues below won't disappoint you!
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What: A royal setting to enjoy a proper high tea.
Why you’ll love it: Beautiful setting, beautiful teas, beautiful treats. More high tea in Amsterdam.
Please note: You can also just have a cup of tea - it used to be E7,50 but you do get a full pot of tea.
Amstel Intercontinental Hotel, Prof. Tulpplein 1, Amsterdam.
Hilton Half Moon Lounge
What: A large English living room overlooking the Hilton Marina and garden. (I shall make a photo next time I'm here).
Why you’ll love it: Proper tea and large sofa’s - a perfect place to relax, read your newspaper or play with your iPad.
Please note: the burgers.
Hilton Amsterdam, Appollolaan 138, Amsterdam.
Cafe de Gruter
What: Local bar
Say what? Yes it’s a local bar, where I ‘accidentally’ ordered tea instead of my usual beer… and guess what… they serve proper tea with leaves and all.
Why you’ll love it: Brown-ish bar of the riches, easy-going ambiance, it’s just all very relaxed, but also the burgers there had already caught my attention!
Cafe de Gruter, Willemsparkweg 73, Amsterdam.
These amsterdam shops selling quality loose tea also have a few tables to enjoy a proper cup.
Formocha - First and only Chinese Tea house in NL. formocha, Binnen Dommersstraat 22 (side street Haarlemmerdijk).
‘t Zonnetje - Tea and coffee shop dating from 1642. zonnetje coffee/tea/spices, Haarlemmerdijk 45, Amsterdam.
Teabar - modern tea shop teabar, Haarlemmerdijk 71, Amsterdam.
Kaldi - Modern tea and coffee shop. kaldi, Herengracht 300, Amsterdam. Open daily.
Trakteren Koffie & Thee - Coffee, tea and home made cakes!
trakteren koffie & thee, JP van Heijestraat 119a, Amsterdam.
Similarities between Pickwick and a Kroket
Pickwick is perfect ... for when you're camping in the Ardennen. Most pre-filled 'supermarket' teas are filled with waste of the tea leaves. Quite like the meat in a kroket.
Sure, you have van Dobbe kroketten who are made with care. Same way, nowadays supermarkets sell pre-filled triangle bags which contains large pieces of tea. The silk material of the bags also allow the teas to get in more contact with water causing better infusion.
At the Amstel Hotel they make their own shrimp kroketten and that's the quality level of the teas sold at the places above: like the shrimps in the Amstel croquette, you can identify tea leaves. Taste-wise these teas are incomparable to PW. You don't eat Febo kroketten either, do you?
Sucre opened a few years ago as a restaurant on Amstelveensweg. The concept of having 1 main and 2 desserts, I liked. My dining experience was not blog-worthy, as I try to only blog positively...
Flash-forward to 2011: Sucre moves to Hobbemastraat, into the old Mansion / Vossius building. They added a sugary-treats shop and a sitting room, which is open during the day.
If you can't afford indulging in Cartier then visit the Sucre shop for artisan sugar-based eatable gems. The treats are showcased like jewelry in glass display cabinets. They are available as of E0.90 per piece and wrapped in modern dark-brown gift boxes.
A sweet gift is the ‘DIY set’ containing the recipe and ingredients to make a chef-worthy gateau yourself. The set is 5th-Avenue-wise put together and will make the gift-receiver feel very special.
The sitting room resembles a boutique hotel lounge. A personal favourite is to crawl away in the love seat next to the window, overlooking the Vondelpark and busy Stadhouderskade-Hobbemastraat crossing.
The service last Wednesday was perfect: a fresh and good-looking gentleman was serving us in a natural, charming manner. Yesterday’s staff was also kind and helpful, but just a bit out of place. Let’s say, there was a mismatch in the staff’s elegance and that of Sucre in general (i.e. its friandises, interior and clientele).
Sucre has an elaborate tea menu. Quality teas, from infusions to white, green black and aromatised teas are served in, what I interpret as enlarged decorated whiskey glasses. Considering the serving sizes (1.5-2 cups), the prices are not bad.
Review of teas:
Camomile - dried camomile served in a teaspoon. What to say? Camomile is camomile. Or is there a camomile expert amongst you? (E3.80)
Chopra tea - an organic infusion of herbs which have a calming effect on body, mind and soul. It was a lovely mix, but it takes more to get a bit of Zen in me. Disappointing is that the tea was served in a pre-fab tea bag. For E4.70, I expect a loose mixture of dried herbs and found it over-priced.
Organic Bangkok - an aromatized green tea with coconut, ginger and lemon grass. Again, the tea was served pre-fab style. However, the bag is made of silk (or is it satin?), allowing sufficient infusion of tea in hot water. Also, inside the bag you can see (cut) tea leaves, as opposed to powdery tea waste found in most tea bags. The organic Bangkok is a great way of satisfying an urge for sweetness without the caloric burden (E4.40).
Pomegranate Oolong, or the ‘black dragon’ as the Chinese call this tea. It is a mixture of green and black tea (served in a tea bag). What’s admirable about quality teas in general, is the long soft finish. As if a silky cloud of warm love lingers in your mouth long after you’ve had your sip of tea. Excuse my attempt to poetry, but beautiful tastes truly delight me. For only E3.70, the Pomegranate is your best buy.
Sucre’s friandises are a must-try. They are divine and just the right size: 1,5 bites. OK, the size is not handy (like sushi: do you go for 1 or 2 bites?), they are perfect in the sense that you get to enjoy it without getting a stuffed feeling. Or, if you have a large sugar appetite, the size allows you to enjoy more than 1 petit-sweet.
In the sitting room, the chef selects 6 friandises for E4. Don’t forget to request the chef to make the selection based on your chosen tea or Buscaglione / Bocca beans coffee. Strangely enough, this is not generally done. The request was not frowned upon by the staff, though.
The friandises the chef served us, included Madeleines, English bread-and-butter pudding, gateau aux fraise (strawberry cake), macaron. The light, fresh/fruity tasted matched perfectly with the Pomegranate Oolong.
Taste-wise friandises are sublime and must-try in Amsterdam. The shop experience is a great substitute for spoiling yourself at Cartier. Having a (high) tea in the sitting room is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Oh, and the male clientele was quite eye-pleasing, too.