As soon as you walk through the door of Cupan Tae in Galway’s Latin Quarter, it’s like stepping back in time. From the decor, the music, the fine china and the beautifully presented and delicious food, Cupan Tae has charm by the bucket load…or teapot full in this case!

A Unique Place to Eat in Galway

If there’s one thing the Irish are often associated with it’s drink but forget about the alcoholic varieties. I’m talking about our long standing love affair with tea. That’s right, there’s nothing that can’t be sorted out over a good hot cuppa! Per capita, Ireland has the second highest consumption of tea in the world. Turkey is way off in 1st place, while the United Kingdom is not far behind us.

Marketed as a traditional Irish tea shop, Cupan Tae is certainly not like anything I remember growing up. Tea shops or tea rooms usually served regular black tea and a selection of scones, apple tarts and cakes. If you had options, it might have been an English Breakfast versus Earl Grey or perhaps you’d get the odd Chamomile thrown in for good measure!

The entrance to Cupan Tae in Galway's Latin Quarter. The door and window frames are purple and china cups hang in the window.

Cupan Tae offers so much more and is a real eye-opener into the world of speciality teas.  The food is top class too. It feels like a real treat without having an exorbitant price tag. If you’re planning a trip to Galway and looking for a unique place to eat, definitely go check out Cupan Tae.

I’m a Slow Learner!

I was never a tea drinker. That was until my younger brother came to stay with me when I lived in New Zealand. He was pretty unimpressed that I didn’t own a teapot and remedied that pretty quickly. While he was no Mrs Doyle (Father Ted fans out there, you know what I mean!) I did slip into the habit of drinking a cuppa with him now and again. Now I drink a modest 2 – 3 cups a day, so I’m doing my bit to keep Ireland in the rankings! 

While holidaying in India some years back I did fall head over heels for masala chai. It’s so good but also super sweet. I’m so glad it’s not common here as I’d be a complete addict! I just stick to good old Lyon’s Tea and a few herbal varieties these days.

Cupan Tae Speciality Teas

So I’m far from an aficionado when it comes to tea and faced with the 14 pages of speciality teas on offer at Cupan Tae, I’ll admit that I was a little overwhelmed! I honestly didn’t know where to start.

José took it all in his stride and ordered his food and tea of choice while I ordered my sandwich and then stumbled. I was going to need a few more minutes to decide on my tea!

I was quietly relieved when José’s ‘Loco for COCOnut’ arrived in a pot big enough to share. He’s more of a coffee man and one cup was more than enough for him. Pressure off, we poured a cup each after the his timer indicated the brewing time was up.

José waiting for his tea to brew. A timer is placed on the table so you know when it's ready.

José waiting patiently for his tea to brew!

You could definitely get the smell of coconut which I love but after a while it was a little intense. I think that one might have been better suited to dessert along with a yummy cake. A classic like the Dreamy Creamy Galway Tea or the Emerald Isle might have gone better with my sandwich.

I should have really asked for suggestions but I’ll know for next time. I’m also quite keen to try the Popcorn Caramel Candy tea. It’s so easy to pick now that I’m at home looking at the options! The loose leaf teas are available in-store for purchase but indecisive people like me will be happy to know you can also buy online and take as long as you want to choose!   

Choose Brunch, Afternoon Tea or a Sweet Treat

Brunch

With sandwiches, pancakes, soup and more on offer, the menu at Cupan Tae is likely to keep everyone happy.

I went for the Veggie Love Sandwich which was really delicious. It’s butterbean & sweet potato spread layered on homemade brown bread, with sliced avocado, goat’s cheese, mixed leaves, fresh grapes and tea-infused honey glazed walnuts. Yes, it was every bit as good as it sounds.

Avocado toast decorated with pomegranate seeds and flowers

José went for the avocado toast and poached eggs with lemon tea-infused pistachio pesto and pomegranate. It was so beautifully presented, it looked almost too good to eat. He somehow managed it though! 

Sweet Treats

We were totally satisfied after our meals. Quite unfortunate really, as some of the sweet treats were calling to me. The house special is Toffee Popcorn Tea-Infused Panna Cotta Teacup, topped with popcorn and draped with salted caramel. I mean, come on! There’s also a daily selection of fresh homemade cakes. A family beside us shared a slice of courgette cake and they were making very happy sounds. Next time it’s just tea and cake I reckon. All the cake!

Afternoon Tea

I have to admit I watched a little enviously as Afternoon Tea was delivered to another table. As with most afternoon teas it includes a selection of sandwiches, savouries, scones and deserts but, you’ve guessed it, these ones are tea-infused! A cup of specialty tea or coffee is included too. If a fancy cuppa isn’t going to cut it for you, you can add a glass of Kir. Or if you’d prefer a bit of sparkly, a glass of Prosecco, Kir Royale or a Mimosa should fit the bill quite nicely.

China saucers hanging on the wall

Private Parties

If you’re looking for the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or hen party, the Serendipity Suite upstairs at Cupan Tae can hold up to 25 people for Afternoon Tea.

Relaxed Ambience

It’s not just the yummy food and teas that make Cupan Tae so good. It’s hard to explain but everything about the place just adds up to a really nice experience. The vintage wallpaper, the 1920s music, the linen tablecloths and the friendly staff with their frilly aprons, really take you back in time.

The floral vintage wallpaper

The vintage wallpaper.

I also got a wave of nostalgia when I saw the Yardley’s body lotion in the bathroom. When I was a kid they were pretty much the only gift sets stocked in the shops, or certainly in our local pharmacy. I think lots of Irish mother’s must still have a stash! 

It’s obviously a place that touches a lot of people, as evidenced by the selection of cards and photos on display from people around the world who have visited.   

Visit Cupan Tae in Westport

Last year Cupan Tae opened a second branch in Westport. Just another excuse to head to beautiful Mayo, if you needed one! Let’s hope they continue to expand around the country. I for one, clearly have a lot of tea-tasting to catch up on.