I spent a lovely afternoon in East Dulwich last Sunday with one of my favourite people, my beautiful friend Jan. She got married in June and I hadn’t seen her since the wedding so a catch-up was long overdue. I used to live with Jan in Herne Hill years ago and I loved hanging out in East Dulwich which is just down the road. So on Sunday I headed back South East to have a relaxed afternoon of eating and shopping on Lordship Lane.
One of my favourite places to hang out on Lordship Lane is Le Chandelier, a beautiful tea shop which serves delicious cakes and of course, a fantastic selection of teas. Now, I love tea. LOVE IT. I drink it constantly. I may as well have a drip filled with tea attached to me at all times. I am never without a cup of tea. I don’t drink black tea though, I stopped drinking that about 7 years ago. I was going through a bad bout of insomnia and my doctor recommended I changed my tea-drinking habits. I played about with camomile, peppermint, fruit teas etc and finally found my true love…white tea. White tea happens to be the least processed of the teas and also has the highest antioxidant levels. It’s very good for you. But that’s not the reason I drink it. I just love the taste. It has a delicate, subtle flavour, quite like green tea but without the bitterness. The health benefits are just an added bonus. The one I tend to drink most (about 15 cups a day) is Clipper’s White Tea which I can find in every supermarket. They’ve started selling bigger boxes of it now so it must be quite popular. I also love Dragonfly White Tea which I get from Waitrose. There are a lot of varieties.
So whenever I find a good tea shop, I get quite excited about it. Le Chandelier has always been a favourite of mine. Jan and I had finished brunch, had done a bit of shopping and we were ready for a tea and a cake so we headed further up Lordship Lane. When you first enter Le Chandelier, you are struck by the beautiful array of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
With wooden floorboards, ceilings and walls adorned with giant antique mirrors, its a very relaxing environment. Upstairs there is a private Moroccan room. You can see more images here.
On the left there is a counter filled with stunning looking cakes and pastries and above them, a wall of loose-leaf teas in jars, reminiscent of the sweet shops of my childhood. They have over 30 types of tea…black, green, yellow, white, Jasmine, flowering teas, herbal infusions…you name it, they’ve got it.
The first thing that caught my eye on Sunday was a lemon meringue pie so I ordered that along with Jasmine Silver Needle tea, my favourite of their white teas. I love that you get a proper china teacup and saucer. I know it seems obvious but some places still give you mugs or thick-rimmed cups and that just won’t do.
My lemon meringue was delicious. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, the pastry was crisp, crumbly and buttery. Jan and her husband Mark, who had come along to join us, went for the carrot cake. I didn’t order that purely because I find it very hard to find a good carrot cake from a cafe. However, tasting theirs, I began to think I may have made the wrong choice. The carrot cake was stunning. Very spicy, lots of cinnamon, dense and moist sponge peppered with big chunks of walnuts and lots of cream cheese frosting. It was the best I’ve had in a very long time. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it.
Its a little gem…beautiful inside, friendly staff, a fantastic selection of teas and delicious cakes. They do serve food too but I have only ever been there for tea and cake in the past so I can’t really comment on their food. They also do an extremely well-priced Afternoon Tea which I’ve heard is delicious. So if you love tea and you ever find yourself near Dulwich, its worth taking a look.
Le Chandelier, 161 Lordship Lane, London SE22 8HX