No lacy table cloths, no gloves and certainly no silly hats – Tea List has managed to take a cultural cliché and turn it into something rather enchanting.
Tucked away in an alley on D Street, this little shop is easily missed. Though it may not be great for business, it’s a plus for those in the know, who are able to experience the magic of courtyard dining, without the annoyance of downtown traffic.
And when I say magic, I mean magic.
Tall trees decorated in white Christmas-lights line the storefronts. The afternoon sunlight casts itself perfectly, making even the chilliest of weather bearable. Birds were literally chirping. So naturally I wanted to sit outside.
Not wanting to miss anything, I ordered Afternoon Tea – a three-tiered platter of all the expected finger foods, with your choice of tea. All for the steep price of $15.95.
A cup of tea alone runs between $3.50 and $5.50 and gets you nothing more than a single serving. Extra hot water is available.
Nonetheless, the tea was great. I tried both the Organic Rose Melange and the Organic Jamaica Roobios.
Rose tea is hard to come by, especially one as flavorful as this. But the tea remained light and sweet, changing to an equally good flavor when sugar and honey was added.
The roobios, on the other hand, was a bit more robust in flavor. It is the type of tea that gives the orders-scones hide in fear of what might happen in its presence. Yet it was brewed to perfection, and never got too strong to bear.
Between sips, contents of the three-tiered platter were put to the test. With so many options it was a bit overwhelming.
At the top were the finger sandwiches. Four different types, cut into four pieces each, left more than enough food for one person.
However, half contained meat, and being a vegetarian, I was disappointed that this was never addressed. The menu vaguely lists “sandwiches” and it never crossed my mind to ask.
I ate all of the vegetarian sandwiches, but both lacked any real taste. Tea List played it safe with the options: one vegetable type and another typical cucumber and cream cheese. Nonetheless, each was cut perfectly for flawless delivery to the mouth and quick chewing.
Lower down was my favorite of the foods – a scone, perfectly crumbly, and perfectly delectable with the fruit preserves. My only complaint is that there weren’t more on the plate.
Some fresh fruit, and a decent tart later and I was full.
But something about my experience felt off. It was not a place to study, yet quiet voices felt mandatory. Customers wore jeans, yet drank with their pinkies up.
Tea List seems to be confused, surfing the line between special occasion catering and a Davis café. This is a line which can only be defined, with time, by its Davis patrons.
My total came out to be $25, including tip, which is a fortune in a college town. This is a great place to trick a date into taking you and an even better place to bring your parents.
But next time I visit, one thing is for certain: I’m just going to order a platter of scones.
BECKY PETERSON can be reached at email@example.com.