Victoria and Diamantino Fonseca are co-owners of Revival, a charming antique and gift shop located in Bristol. The husband and wife duo recently celebrated the store’s sixth anniversary with the opening of Tea at the Belvedere, a new space where patrons can pause, relax and enjoy a diverse selection of teas and tasty treats.
What made you decide to add a tea room to Revival?
My husband and I were looking to expand our business. Several times when customers visited our store they mentioned that I should serve tea and it seemed a natural fit for our vintage in-spired atmosphere. So the journey be-an. We both enjoy tea but did not have much of a background about the history or process.
You traveled to Europe in preparation for the tea room. What was your favorite part of that experience?
We visited tea rooms in Ireland, England and France. I really enjoyed the differences in the “taking of tea” by not only country but by region. For example, in the UK it was not unusual to be served lukewarm or oversteeped tea and nearly always you were brought a pot of hot water to “warm up” or “water down” your tea. It was always served in lovely porcelain with great attention to presentation. By contrast, in France tea is serving piping hot, most often in cast iron teapots and not necessarily any frippery at all. My favorite part of the trip was observing the European families with their tremendous affection for each other and their ability to slow down or even stop and make the most of each day.
How do you feel about scones?
I follow the blog “Honest Toddler” on Facebook & Twitter and one day his post was, “Tried a scone today... horrible dry cake, cried a little” and I could sympathize with him. Scones can be really bad, dry, crumbly and tasteless. Made properly, they can
be delicious. We tasted many scones in Europe but the best scone hands down was in a bus station in Sheffield, England from a little old lady who had a pushcart with homemade cream and jam. We weren’t looking for scones, having tried so many on this trip, but it was very early in the morning and she was the only option. I still dream about those scones. Recently we partnered with Fab Goldberg, former proprietress of the amazing Basically British Tea Room. She is baking scones for us and they are scrumptious.
What kind of teas do you serve?
We serve and sell only loose leaf tea and that is what I prefer, as well as most of our tea loving customers. We have black, green, white and blends such as our ayurvedic tea. We also have decaffeinated options and herbal tisanes. It is our intention to purchase teas that are as free from pesticides and contaminants as possible. We also will only buy tea purchased from fair trade or equitable trade tea gardens. Our best selling tea has been Pumpkin Spice, with our Indian Chai coming in a close second.
What else do you serve with tea?
We serve pastry such as cream puffs, fruit tarts, eclairs and macaroons. We
have croissants with almonds or savory options like spinach and feta or ham and cheese. We also serve quiche. For our afternoon tea, it is a traditional three-tier tray with tea sandwiches and other savories on the bottom, pastry and sweets, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a pot of tea.
Do you yourself make time for tea on a regular basis?
Absolutely! Daily and often more than once a day. I am quite sensitive to caffeine and unable to tolerate more than a sip or two of coffee but tea does not affect me that way. The caffeine impact is gentle and minimal. I drink tea until around 2pm then switch to a lower caffeine blend, then enjoy a cup of chamomile tea before bed. It is much better than any sleep aid; I often nod off before I finish the cup.
Afternoon tea will be served on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Mondays by reservation with seatings at 1pm and 3pm.
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