Stella Cafe, Hokitika

Tea as weak as the proverbial – and I swear I didn’t put in too much milk.

My mother would say the tea at Stella Cafe, in Hokitika, was as weak as maiden’s water. Which was a shame, because it was to be my last cup on the Coast, and I had high hopes for it.

We were under time pressure; Stella doesn’t open until 8am, and I had to be at the airport at 8.40am.

Nevertheless, when I heard they used loose-leaf tea, my heart soared, and I was glad we decided it was worth squeezing breakfast in before my flight.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 5:– A real teacup! Okay, it’s a pretty basic one, the kind you can buy in bulk at homeware stores, but it is, at least, a cup made for drinking tea from.

TEA 4: Twining’s English breakfast, made with loose-leaf tea. The trouble with the teapots that hold the tea in a little basket just under the lid is that they don’t draw very well. So if you don’t put in a decent amount of tea , the resulting brew is, well, not brewed.

SETTING 7: Comfortable, stylish cafe in downtown Hokitika, plenty of room and good food, and honey, a delicatessen and cheese room to boot. Pity about the tea.

Stella Cafe, 84 Revell St, Hokitika.

DP1 Cafe, Greymouth

Good gumboot tea.

Lunch-time finds us in Greymouth, getting ready to meet another reporter. “To DP1 Cafe,” said my travelling companion Jen Miller, who has supped in this town before.

It is a good recommendation. DP1 is down near the port, and is doing a steady trade when we roll in.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 1: We’re going backwards here; not only is this a coffee cup and huge, but it has one of those handles you can’t get your finger into.

TEA 7: English breakfast, unknown brand (I did ask). Made in a pot. A good, dp1 signsolid gumboot tea which perfectly complemented the delicious ginger crunch. The collectors’ teaspoon featuring Hawera was a nice touch.

SETTING 6: Nice cafe, lots of room. We have got a table in the sun, but possibly a little chilly further back. Looks like it might be open at night too, and that it might serve alcoholic beverages.

DPI Cafe, 104 Mawhera Quay, Greymouth.

Freckles Cafe, Westport

A silver pot and a jug of hot water.

Freckles Cafe in Westport might look low-key, but yesterday’s filled roll was so good that I had another for breakfast today.

But would the tea live up to the same high standard?

My marks out of 10?

CUP 1.5: Same-old same-old, tea served in a coffee cup. And this time it’s a huge one. The tea at the bottom was definitely luke-warm.

TEA 7: Twining’s English breakfast. Made in a lovely silver pot reminiscent of the ones freckles-sign.jpgAir New Zealand stewards and stewardess used to use. The tea itself is good, if unassuming.

SETTING 6: I’ve already described it as low-key, and that might be a little unfair. It’s clean, a little quirky, and there’s a bit of a garden out the back.

Freckles Cafe, 216 Palmerston St, Westport.