Tipple + Rose brings quali-tea nibbles to Virginia Highlands

Tipple+%2B+Rose+brings+quali-tea+nibbles+to+Virginia+Highlands

Reilly Blum

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PARTEA: Tipple + Rose offers more than 100 varieties of tea. Customers can sniff each type before making a final selection.

Virginia Highland’s Tipple + Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary has a name so charming that I resolved to become a regular customer before I even ventured to the shop.

For the ninth installment of Around the World on 80 Plates, I took a culinary journey to England for a proper high tea.

Upon entering the shop, I almost forgot to place my order — the lovely curiosities which lined hundreds of shelves drew me in like a magnet. After a few minutes, however, I remembered I had come to purchase tea, not goats’ milk soap or artisan jam, and so I made my way to the counter, which sat at the back of the beautifully-decorated shop.

Each tea listed on the cafe’s four-page menu had a corresponding letter or number. About a hundred tins, each filled with a distinct assortment of dried herbs and spices, lay inside cubbies in an adjacent shelf. Tipple + Rose encourages customers to sniff as many teas as they please before committing to an order, and the staff is happy to answer questions about the shop’s many options.

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TEARABLE PUNS: Tipple + Rose’s perfect little seven-minute glass ensured that my first cup of tea was well-steeped.

After a few minutes of leisurely sniffing and less-than-leisurely contemplation, I ordered a pot of the South African Rainbow Rooibos tea. The menu noted that the tea had no caffeine and low antioxidant levels, but I didn’t care — it smelled delicious, like amaretto with fruity notes, and looked it, too.

I then ambled to the display of cakes. My server noted that many of the desserts were vegan or gluten-free, and after much deliberation, I ordered a slice of the vegan coconut cake. Almost immediately after I sat down at a table, I received a silver tray loaded with a full teapot, a slice of the cake, and, of all things, a seven-minute hourglass. It was this that made me fall in love with Tipple + Rose. The shop has four, five and seven-minute hourglasses that correspond to the amount of brew time the tea needs. My rooibos needed to steep for seven minutes, and so, instead of waiting idly, I set to work on my cake.

Surprisingly, this egg, milk and butter-free dessert tasted perfectly delicious. I tried to distinguish unsavory vegan flavors, but I failed. The cake was fluffy and coconutty, while the icing was perfectly creamy. If anything, it was a little dry, but I didn’t mind. I was so impressed that a vegan cake could actually be tasty that I ignored my palate’s minor criticisms. I couldn’t help but wonder how the baker had substituted the classic coconut cake’s key dairy ingredients, but I congratulated myself for choosing a (relatively) healthy treat.

Then it was time to sample my tea. The drink smelled like an amaretto cookie, but was a dark, reddish-orange color. My first sip was heaven. The tea was light, with refreshingly fruity notes, but had a warming almond flavor. I needed neither milk nor sugar — the tea tasted delicious plain.

Though Tipple + Rose is undeniably pricey — my cake and tea cost me nearly $8, the portions are generous and the quality is high. The slice of cake was massive, far too much for me to finish on my own. I was able to finish my entire pot of tea because it was decaffeinated and light, but a pot of black tea would easily serve two people. Tipple + Rose is sensitive to this: the shop will pour any leftover tea into a portable cup for customers to take home with them.

Over the course of an hour, I fell in love with Tipple + Rose. The shop, located at 806 North Highland Ave. NE, is a lovely place, perfect for a deary afternoon. The atmosphere is charming, the servers are friendly, and the tea is unrivaled.