Beach Rd Deli, Paekakariki


Beach Rd outside
Beach Rd Cafe, just over the railway line in Paekakariki.

Good tea is again spoilt by bad cups – and now I know why

Memories of tea and date loaf at The Perching Parrot lure me off the highway at Paekakariki again in search of a repeat performance.

“It’s important to check they are consistently good,” I tell myself, as I park right outside.

But what’s this? Looking up the road, I spot another cafe just two doors away.

It’s the Beach Rd Deli, and requires immediate inspection.

My Marks Out of 10:

beach rd cup
This is NOT a tea cup.

Cup 1:  Acme and Co. When will this torture end? Acme is a Wellington company based in the Prefab cafe in Jessie St. By its own description, it’s a specialty coffee company. Why oh why, then, are its cups being used for tea? The cups have names like Demitasse, Flat White, Cappuccino and Latte. And they’re probably great cups for those coffees. But not for tea. They’re the wrong shape and too heavy, sucking the heat from the tea before it gets to drinkers’ mouths.

Acme seems to understand and accept that different types of coffee work best in different types of cups. The tulip has “a tall, narrow design meaning the crema is retained for longer when serving a long black”. The Demitasse’s thick wall “retains heat well”. The Cappuccino “features a large surface area which is the ideal canvas for displaying latte art” . Oh, and by the way, “the cappuccino can also be used as a durable teacup”.

And there’s the problem. Tea is an after-thought. You need different cups for every cup of coffee, but just bung the tea in the nearest cappuccino cup. No-one will know the difference.

As scientist Duguld McTavish explained back in August, thick walls and a large surface area are exactly what you don’t want for tea.

beach rd tea
A fine selection of tea.

Tea 7: T Leaf T loose-leaf English Breakfast. Or is it? One of the reasons I love tea from this Petone blender is because it is consistently good.

This cup, though, tastes like it might have a bit of Earl Grey in it. I ask the woman behind the counter if they might have given me the wrong tea, and she says she doesn’t think so, but English Breakfast and Earl Grey are next to each other on the shelf, so it’s possible someone picked up the wrong one. “I’ll make myself a pot and see,” she says. I like her style.

On the food front, I have a rather nice feta, sun-dried tomato and spinach quiche with a tamarillo chutney so spicy it makes my nose run.

beach rd verandah
Sunny seating at the Beach Rd Deli.

Setting 7: Holtom’s Building opened in 1920 and nearly closed in 2007 because of the extent earthquake-strengthening that needed to be done. Presumably it was done, though, because the building is still standing.

Today, the seat just inside the window is bathed in sunshine, making it warm enough to take my coat off.

Dog-friendly? None here on this day.

Open After 3? Yes.

Beach Rd Deli, 5 Beach Rd, Paekakariki

There’s no place like home

You can tell it’s my favourite mug by the fact it’s so well-used.

This week I’ve been east, I’ve been west, but the tea at home is best.  Especially as the lads rustled up a sweet treat to go with it.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 9: My favourite tea-drinking mug. Fine bone china, good balance, a nice lip, and my great grandmother’s clan on the front.

TEA 10: Dilmah classic. Classic.

SETTING 10: O the deck, in the sun,  banana trees a-rustling, Whangarei Harbour a-sparkling.

DOG-FRIENDLY? Definitely.

Fools Of Desire (F.O.D) Cafe, Rangiora

Delicious tea, let down by the cup.

It had been a long time between drinks, and I was more than ready for a good cup when we got to Fools of Desire (known as F.O.D) Cafe for an early lunch today.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 2.5: Sadly, another otherwise excellent cafe with great tea, let down by confusing coffee cups with teacups. On the plus side, the cups were warmed (hence the .5) and the waitress listened politely as my sister and I raved on about the difference between teacups and coffee cups.

TEA 9:  Loose-leaf Kerikeri  Tea’s organic Bay of Islands Breakfast for me, a blend of English breakfast and Earl Grey for Deirdre. Absolutely delicious, and made properly in the pots. Would have been a 10 if the flavour had been enhanced by fine-bone cups (I’m labouring the point, but it seems I have to).

SETTING 7.5: The cafe’s a bit noisy (and piped TV themes  in the toilet is, frankly, weird) but we found a quietish nook cut into the wall and enjoyed ourselves.

Fools Of Desire Cafe, Conway Lane, 176 High St, Rangiora.

I’m not mad, it’s science


A hydrologist explains why cups matter.

August 16, 2017:  I have been known to get a little tetchy if I’m served tea in coffee cups, especially those thick, heavy, shallow ones designed for drinking flat whites and the like.

Well, I have science on my side. I was sitting at the Freshbites cafe at Wellington airport today with three scientists when my tea arrived – served in a well-shaped, reasonably thin, teacup!

Rudely, I interupted our conversation about serious environmental issues to let out a whoop of pleasure. Earlier in the day, I had had breakfast with my brother at Loretta in Cuba St. It was a superb meal (poached egg on Loretta’s own seeded bread, free-range bacon, tomatoes and basil with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic) but it was seriously let down by the cup the tea was served in.

You can read my complaints here. Suffice to say that it’s not a good idea to mess with my first tea of the day.

But here I was, in an airport of all places, being given a half-decent cup.

I took a photo and started babbling on about cups that make your tea cold. One of the scientists, hydrologist Dugald MacTavish (he knows about water) became interested.

“You’re right,” he said, muttering something about surface-to-volume ratio, so I got him to write it down in my notebook. Now, whenever I’m given tea in an inappropriate cup, I will fling that phrase at the perps, followed by my notebook if they don’t listen.

*You can read my review of the tea at Freshbites here.





Freshbites, Wellington airport

freshbites wgtn
Happy tea-drinking at Wellington airport.

At last! Good tea at an airport! Didn’t think it could happen.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 7: A special Dilmah cup. A proper shape, china (although not fine-bone) and with its own hat to keep it warm.

TEA 8: Dilmah English breakfast. Always good.

SETTING 5: It’s an airport. On the plus side, a good location to spot people you want to lobby; they have to walk past you.

Freshbites, Wellington airport.

Number Eight, Christchurch airport



Tea for two at Christchurch airport.

Another day, another airport

Guest photographer today is my sister Deirdre, another tea aficionado who is also helping me score. Coming to the conclusion that I shouldn’t drink tea in airports. Or aeroplanes.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 1: Where do we start? At first I was given a coffee cup. It was replaced with a tea cup, but it’s chipped, and Deirdre’s cup is dirty. And that’s before we start on the aesthetics.

TEA 3: Dilmah. The bags were given separately, which means they haven’t brewed properly in the pot, and as a result the tea is weak and cold. The man behind the counter was startled when we asked for separate milk jugs (I wanted fullcream, Deirdre wanted trim), but he recovered quickly.

SETTING 6: Good for an airport cafe. Nice and quiet. 

Number Eight, Christchurch Airport.

Tea in the air

Air New Zealand, somewhere above the Desert Rd, New Zealand.

It’s tea, I’m drinking it, so it should be rated.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 1: 

TEA 1: It’s wet, is about the best I can say.

SETTING 6: Comfortable for an aeroplane.

Air New Zealand, somewhere above the Desert Rd, New Zealand.

Ten O’Clock Cookie, Masterton


Lunch with my mother on her birthday. She picked the place; they do fab traditional stuff like egg sandwiches (me) and a potato-top pie (her).

My marks out of 10?

CUP 4: Not as bad as a traditional coffee cup, but still not a tea cup. Nice teapot though.

TEA 8: Don’t know what it was, but it was hot, strong and plentiful.

SETTING 7: Not a lot of imagination, but the company was good.

Ten O’Clock Cookie, 180 Queen St, Masterton.

Tea with Mum

Perfect cup, perfect tea, perfect place.

Tea the way it should be, made in my mother’s kitchen to our exacting family standards.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 10: From a 1960s fine-bone tea set, delicate pink on the inside. The first proper tea-cups I ever drank from.

TEA 9: I have tried to get her to switch to Dilmah.

SETTING 10: Company 20.


Hamilton gardens, Hamilton

hamilton gardens
Tea and a biscuit by the lake at Hamilton Gardens

It’s a long, hot drive from Whangarei to Hamilton in late summer, and I was well and truly ready for a cup of tea and a light something by the time I got to Hamilton Gardens, in the city’s south.

I was giving a talk in the gardens’ conference centre that evening, with dinner included, and I wanted to sit quietly somewhere for a while and work on my presentation. And drink tea, of course.

My marks out of 10?

CUP 5: Pretty but heavy.

TEA 7.5: Good, but the pot was too small, and I had to order a second to satisfy my thirst.

SETTING 9: Idyllic – just look at the photo. A brilliant place to wind down, cool down and refresh.

Hamilton Gardens, Hungerford Crescent, Hamilton.