As soon as you walk in, you know that this is a tea room for people who love the past - or have a misty-eyed vision of what the past used to be like. Tisanes does it well with a wonderful mixture of kitsch and genuine memorabilia, including record sleeves of Fred Astaire musicals. The hygiene, though, is 21st century with immaculate marble-topped tables and toothpaste-white china.
The service is quick and efficient, although the long list of teas will keep you occupied for a while. I was surprised and pleased to see that this is one of the few places that serves proper leaf tea instead of the ubiquitous tea bag. I ordered Lapsang Souchong. I drink this at home every day and I love its smoky aroma and delicate but distinctive taste. When it arrived I was disappointed. No smoky smell, no delicate taste. Either this tea was stale or it simply wasn't very good tea to begin with. I'd guess the former - not too many people drink Lapsang - but that's no excuse for a place that won the Tea Guild's Award of Excellence.
Then I tried my blackberry and apple pie. This was a generous slice of pie, but instead of a crisp crumbly crust, the pastry was more like damp sheets of brown paper coated with shellac. It tasted metallic, as though it had been baked in a rusty tin. The filling had been steam-rollered into a solid slab and lacked texture. It was so unpleasant that I passed it to my companion who can eat anything.
Tisanes is obviously trying very hard, and it certainly seemed popular with the tourist trade. Apart from the tea and the food I can't fault it. However, since tea and food is such an intrinstic part of the experience of going to a teashop, I can't give it a higher rating.
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