I’ve had the most wonderful afternoon tea with a twist at the new Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar on the Promenade.
Claiming to be the world’s first gin and tea bar, it certainly is a unique place where you can sample a wide selection of infused gins and teas and enjoy a truly spectacular menu made with unique flavour combinations.
The owners, who also own the East India Café in Cheltenham, infuse 15 varieties of gin, which are then paired with tea. They also craft their own gin, giving optimal control over how it tastes.
I went along to taste and review the £19.99, ‘Afternoon Chai’ which is a combination of fragrant chai and Anglo-Indian inspired food served beautifully as a number of ‘courses’ in lovely silver Indian style teacups and dishes. The tea, which includes a masala chai with ginger and garam masala with milk and honey, is delicate and fragrant. The savoury snacks which include, malai dahl from East India Café and chicken sheikh kebab roll are beautifully presented and tasted so fresh and delicious!
You can also have a ‘Gin Tour’ for an extra £15 with three gins to accompany the afternoon chai. Or you can choose a ‘Gin and Tea Tasting Menu’ for £39.99 – an experience they promise, ‘you will not find anywhere else in the world.’ You can also have a number of main meals including small snacks to more substantial meals from roast beef, pepperoni and mustard kahti roll – £11.99 to a chicken tikka burger – £10.99.
The Memsahib Gin and Tea bar is inspired by the British Raj period, during which many Anglo-Indian women settled in Cheltenham. The lifestyle of a Memsahib, originally a term for a married upper-class white woman, would have involved offering the sort of hospitality presented in the Gin and Tea bar. An opulent space with two main rooms and comfy sofas and chairs, it shows sketches and portraits which illustrate many of these women of empowerment during the Victorian era.
The Memsahib can simply be defined as a European woman in India during this period. Repeatedly mentioned in history books, these Anglo-Indian women are recognised for empowering women in India, whilst introducing Cheltenham to the Anglo-Indian culture. Bridging a gap between the nation, people and heritage.
In India, the Memsahib would host a feast in the comfort of her own home for her family and friends. At the Memsahib Gin and Tea bar, they wanted to recreate this in the cosy lounges and carefully crafted platters.
One of them who stood out to me is Cornelia Sorabji (1866 –1954) who was an Indian woman who was the first female graduate from Bombay University, the first woman to study law at Oxford University and the first female advocate in India, and the first woman to practice law in India and Britain.
All of the teas at the bar are of artisan quality and fair trade; ethically transported from leaf to cup. Teas include: warming chai, intoxicating oolong, fragrant green and sophisticated Earl Grey. Both the food and tea menus are seasonal, ensuring you receive the freshest and most sustainable offerings available.
I was offered complimentary Afternoon Chai in exchange for an honest review. Highly recommended!