Delightful things happen when you least expect them. For instance, there I was searching for a funeral dress on Saturday afternoon when I pretty much stumbled upon a new indie tea tasting house in The Pavillions shopping Centre.
As usual, I whipped out my camera ready to share this discovery with you good people when there was a knock on the window. Uh oh, was I going to get a reprimand for for taking innocent photos (they weren’t military planes for God’s sake)? Hell no, I was warmly beckoned inside and given a tour of Char Wallah by its friendly proprietor Andy Smith.
As I snapped away at the fab selection of international teapots and encyclopedic selection of loose leaf and fruit blends on offer (hundreds it transpires having since perused the menu), Andy told me that he and his sister Julie had been open since Christmas. He’s a well traveled chap it seems and developed a passion for tea and sympathy during trips to the East.
I told Andy that his store reminded me of upmarket American tea chain Teavana (loose leaf tea shops are doing really well over there as they haven’t adopted the British habit of taking tea with milk yet) and some of the independent offerings that are creating a mini revolution Stateside. Really, I’m not exaggerating. Teavana has recently been snapped up by Starbucks (queue The Empire Strikes Back theme music).
Certainly, Birmingham wants more food and drink tasting venues as shown by the success of The Whisky Shop and the Loki Wine Tasting House in the Great Western Arcade.
Meanwhile, back in Andy’s neglected part of The Pavillions (next to the lovely Wisteria Lane), two women sit sipping serenely, oblivious to the shopping stampede outside (yes I know over-alliteration makes me sound like Courtney Stodden but the sun is out so just allow it this once).
And I find myself hoping that Char Wallah survives because I admire what they are trying to do. All to often places such as the 90 Day Cafe, Shakes and all manner of little furniture places in the Pavillions and side streets pop up and then crash because we never pop in. I fear Char Wallah may turn out to be such a case but for £2.90 a pot or tea tasting for just £1, I urge Brummies to give it a go. It sure beats Typhoo!