Betjeman & Barton @ 1 Utama & The Good Tea Company @ Main Place, USJ Subang

June 25, 2014

Tired of coffee? Time for tea: Here's a peek at two new mall-based tea traders, starting with Paris-based Betjeman & Barton, which opened its first Malaysian outpost this week inside 1 Utama, less than a year after embarking into Southeast Asia with a branch in Singapore's Raffles City. 

This is the sort of cafe that'll perform well in a mall _ potentially perfect for shoppers who want to rest their feet & replenish their strength with some soothing tea & invigorating sweets. Enthusiastic crowds will likely hang out here on weekend afternoons too, underscoring the likelihood that more tea rooms by various companies will open in the Klang Valley in the months ahead.

Betjeman & Barton serves more than merely a spot of tea _ the store's selection is sweeping (more than 200 varieties), spanning Indian & Chinese origins among others, featuring classic & perfumed blends whose names range from Des Amours to Les Invites. 

Tea can be consumed at the cafe or purchased to take home; for the former, many of the recommended pots of tea on the cafe menu (more than 50 varieties of classic, blended, plus fruit-infused) clock in at RM24 each before taxes, sufficient for four cups.

For folks bringing tea back, it might be worth splurging on these temptingly beautiful tea caddies (canisters) to store the leaves. Many of them, exclusive to Betjeman & Barton, cost between RM49 & RM69.

We opted for the seemingly safer choices of Betjeman & Barton's more popular varieties, such as the Autumn Blend, with a base of Chinese & Ceylon teas that's intended to be reminiscent of figs, grapes, quince, nuts, raisins & sunflower petals. Our tea tasted very light. 

Pouchkine, Betjeman & Barton's oldest & most admired tea, reputedly a closely guarded recipes for decades now. Can be enjoyed as a regular pot of hot tea or an icy-fizzy beverage with citrus overtones. 

No lack of confections; the chocolates comprise flavours such as blueberry milk, mascarpone dark & praline feuilletine.

 Earl Grey gateau (RM14.90), plus vanilla & hazelnut macarons (RM4 each); not bad, but not the stand-out here.

We like the French-style ice cream (RM15), which comes in rich renditions of pistachio, vanilla & dark chocolate, memorably served in beetroot & orange-tinged waffle bowls for extra dimensions of flavour.

All in all, Betjeman & Barton could be a fun stop for folks who want to try out blends of tea unseen elsewhere in Malaysia.

Next up, heading to Subang: The Good Tea Company started out as a Shah Alam retail store, but it recently opened a full-fledged cafe at Subang's new Main Place mall, where customers can also enjoy their tea here or purchase some to bring home.

This is a family-run business that's as serious about its tea as any coffee specialist in KL is about its single-origin beans. It largely tackles tea from Indian gardens in Darjeeling & Assam; the teas include elite single-estate varieties, served at the table with timers to tell us when they're ready to be consumed.

Margaret's Hope Darjeeling tea (RM18) supplies a sad story of an estate on the mountaintop of Himalayas; its name is meant to be in memory of its former owner's daughter, who passed away as a young girl before World War II. The tea itself is supposed to showcase notes of grapes, blackcurrants & a floral resonance.

The single-estate teas carry evocative names like Castleton, Thurbo & Halamari, but The Good Tea Company also offers the classics, from Earl Grey to Irish Breakfast (RM7.90 each).

Chai latte? Check. Flavoured teas such as Alphonse Mango, Apple or Green Mango Darjeelings are available as well. RM6.90.

Iced tea, in forms such as Shibuya (Japanese milk tea, RM8.90), Boston cranberry tea, Georgia raspberry-lemon tea & more.

Baked treats to pair with the tea: Coffee-glazed cinnamon cakes (RM6.90), croissants, scones & lemon poppyseed loaves.

Plenty of hampers & jars are available on The Good Tea Company's retail shelves, seemingly perfect for Hari Raya gifting.

Sniffing certainly allowed: Enjoy complimentary whiffs of Assam, Green Tea, Afternoon Tea & other blends at the front of the cafe. The Good Tea Company's plus point: Seems worth supporting for customers who favour Malaysian-grown businesses.

Betjeman & Barton Tea Room Malaysia
G220, Ground Floor, 1 Utama (Old Wing), Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

The Good Tea Company
GF29, The Main Place USJ 21, Jalan USJ 21/10, Persiaran Kewajipan, Subang Jaya, Selangor

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