The weather was pretty generous for these first couple of weeks here in Edinburgh, but the temperature is steadily starting to drop. While i was packing for this term back in late August in Texas, it was difficult for me to even begin to imagine just how cold it would be over here. Even now, I think it’s pretty cold, but the locals just keep shaking their heads and telling me otherwise.
"The weather is great!" – everyone except me, when the high is 54°F.
"It’s so hot in here. Let’s open a window." – everyone except me, in a perfectly cozy classroom.
I grew up loving the taste of green tea, but I understand now that the British love for tea is also very practical. Walking forty minutes to class on a windy day becomes enjoyable with a cup of tea keeping the fingers warm. Every swallow of English breakfast tea ("normal tea") can be felt making its way down the throat and into the entire body, tingling through extremi[tea]s. Coffee is just as amazing, but lacking in puns to espresso the love. The puns are so terrible that they feel like a real grind to get through.
Afternoon tea is also a fun way to savor tea. I didn’t realize until I got to Edinburgh that tea houses offer afternoon tea packages, complete with a selection of sandwiches and cakes. Ever since our first experience, my friends and I were hooked.
Edinburgh has a lot of fun coffee shops, including a few that claim to be the birthplace of Harry Potter. Here’s the low-down on some of my favorites!
For the Café Lover:
Black Medicine Coffee Co.
Although The Elephant House claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter, locals say Black Medicine is the actual café where JK Rowling wrote some of the earlier books. Regardless, the café does very well. The interior is amazing and wooden, the service is consistently friendly (not just the polite sort, but the familiar sort), and the drinks are top notch. Just kidding–I’m not usually picky about my coffee. I dislike bad coffee, but it’s difficult for me to rank good coffee.
If you’re not feeling keen for caffeine, though, you could always try a steamer (steamed milk with your choice of flavored syrup)! My favorite is the chai steamer.Pro Tip: If you don’t like your drinks too sweet, though, ask for less syrup!
The Potting Shed
Although The Potting Shed (or as we have fondly come to know it, TPS) is at first glance a restaurant and bar, it has amazing hot chocolate and lattes. TPS has an amazing atmosphere that is perfect for entertaining guests, getting to know new friends, or just chilling for hours on end with old friends. On Fridays, local artists perform live music. All in all, TPS reminds me of the coffee shop in the TV show Friends: it’s our evening chill spot.
Of the places I’ve been so far, I love the interior at TPS the most. Where else are candles in empty wine bottles on each table, pots and metal hanging from the ceiling as lamp shades, and a bicycle plastered on the wall above rows of exquisite tile?
Bonus: You can order mocktails in an adorable mason jar or French fries in a pot (the sort that plants live in)!
Kilimanjaro is perfect for a quick coffee break during the day. If you’re a student at the University of Edinburgh, this coffee shop is right by the George Square campus. I’m not a coffee expert, but I loved the latte. The service was also splendid. You’ll definitely want to pop in for a quick warm cuppa if you happen to be passing by!
So far, I’ve only been to one place in Edinburgh for Afternoon Tea. For about £15, you can choose one of their many black, green, oolong, white, rooibos, herbal, and flowering teas to go with a sandwich of your choice (of which you get four), a scone with clotted cream and jam, and lots of adorable pastries.
I had a flowering rose tea, which came as a large green bulb in a pot of hot water. The tea was ready when the flower bloomed!
Afternoon Tea is perfect for quiet conversation and trying multiple sweets. My friends and I booked it for 16:00 (4 pm), and it more than substituted dinner! Fortunately, they do allow you to take what you can’t finish home, so there’s no pressure to finish it all except for the fact that you want to try everything.