Nestled in a basement on Frederick Street, Eteaket attracts shoppers, students, tourists and locals alike to its unprepossessing white doors. Inside there’s a bright, bold colour scheme of white, teal and hot pink (it sounds worse than it is, really), ruined only by the phrase “Keep Calm And Have A Cup Of Tea” stuck to one wall. If you can avoid looking at it – harder than it sounds, since the opposite wall is mirrored – then the rest of the decor won’t raise your blood pressure too much. A nod to vintage of course, but done in a modern enough way not to come over as too mimsy.
The tea at Eteaket is consistently excellent with a simple system in place; you order your tea and they bring it to your table with a sand-timer – when the sand runs out, it’s ready to drink. (I honestly have no idea why other tea shops don’t do this, preferring to make you play some kind of tea-based cross between a game of chicken and Russian Roulette just to find out whether it’s brewed enough). There are some rare and interesting varieties on offer as well as well-chosen classics. The Royal Earl Gray in particular is light and fresh, with tiny blue cornflowers strewn throughout the leaves.
There’s a good selection of cakes and for a real treat, afternoon tea; served on a three-tiered stand with sandwiches, scones, miniature patisserie desserts and the palpable envy of everyone in the café who isn’t having it too.
What’s great about Eteaket is not only do they seem to really care about tea, even creating their own special blends (I’d recommend the Rooibos Creme Caramel in particular), but they’re also passionate about making it interesting and accessible to everyone. I might take issue with the number of times the word “lovely” appears on the signs in their shop, but the effervescent passion it shows is contagious and when it’s paired with attention to detail, attentive staff and a sense of wanting to be part of the community, it becomes hard to fault.
This place is primarily a tea shop, rather than a cafe, so the inside is somewhat cramped and sometimes overrun with packaging. That said, they have a huge selection of teas, both to drink in and to buy, and the staff clearly know and care a lot about their products. Also, their chocolate brownies are the best I’ve ever had! I wouldn’t go back to the cafe, but I’d definitely recommend them as a shop.
This is easily the best tea shop in Edinburgh. Everything about it is pretty near perfect; the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the decor is old-fashioned without going down that irritating “kooky vintage” route, and all the teas are excellent and lovingly prepared.