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the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Tipple + Rose brings quali-tea nibbles to Virginia Highlands

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.

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.

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Tipple + Rose brings quali-tea nibbles to Virginia Highlands