Not another coffee shop


Kanuka - Credit: Archant

Have you spotted Kanuka, the new tea shop in Christopher Place, St Albans yet? I was very curious about this opening as we already have so many coffee shops; could it really offer something different?


Kanuka - Credit: Archant

I am pleased to be able to tell you that this is an independent new business, run by a local couple John and Beth Hesler. John used to work in the construction industry, and told me that he has experienced hundreds of cups of builder’s tea in his time. John and Beth spent many months researching and tasting teas, and they have done something really new here.

As you walk in to the light, modern café, you face a wall of teas, arranged in three sections: classic, wellbeing and naughty. You choose the tea that looks most appealing and tell the counter staff who brew a pot for you using whizzy hot water taps. You can take your tea to a table or get a takeaway.

Classic teas include Darjeeling, Rooibos and good old English Breakfast, as well as many others. The well-being list is the one I think will appeal to St Albanians the most – you can find green matcha, moringa, tulsi, rose petal and many others that you just can’t find elsewhere in the area. The “naughty” section might particularly appeal to teens and children, with strawberries and cream, popcorn and choco nut teas on offer. The tea wall tells you whether your choice contains caffeine, and gives you background on where the tea is grown. I tried almond tea and rose tea, and really enjoyed both.

At around £2 for a pot, the prices are much better than I expected, and much cheaper than many coffees sold nearby. That reminds me; as might be expected, there is no coffee on the menu.

I was very impressed by the food on offer, which includes salads, energy balls, cakes, cookies, scones and Paninis.

Everything is gluten-free, which surprised me; the cakes were amazing and you would never know. I really liked the matcha and coconut energy ball I tried, and at £1.50 this is great value and a nutritious option. The raw chocolate and coconut cookie was fab too, and made with cashew nuts, raw cacao and agave nectar, making it a low glycaemic load option. Salads are vegan; the sweet potato and black bean looked good, and I tried the hummus and falafel wrap (wrapped in cabbage leaves rather than bread), which was full of flavour. There is a good range of healthy-ish snacks too, including coconut, seaweed, fruit and vegetable crisps, Primal bars and Proper corn.

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If you are wondering, the name Kanuka is from a tree in New Zealand and Australia that has healthy properties. It also reminded John and Beth of Manuka honey, and they wanted a name that reflects the healthy associations.

John and Beth have brought something new to St Albans, and it is already busy, just two weeks after opening. I love that a builder has managed to reinvent tea, and I can really see other Kanukas opening in the future. In the meantime, you saw it here first. Kanuka is open every day.