Tombo, London

4.12.2015

If you don't know already, my life is all about drinking tea (and eating food as well), in search for "a nice cup of tea". White tea, green tea, oolong tea and black tea, with over 30 varieties of tea leaves at home; I think I can soon start a tea house. Ask me a tea question, I can tell you the type of tea, the origin and brewing method. When Tombo started to trend on Instagram with their matcha desserts, I knew I had to come and investigate.


"Tea is one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country and causes violent disputes over how it should be made"
- George Owell

Located around the corner of South Kensington tube station, it is a small family run Japanese café named Tombo. Looking at the menu, the food seems very healthy or maybe too healthy for my liking. But I was here for two things, dessert and tea. When it comes to tea, I can be very critical. I firmly believed that beside breakfast tea, milk should not be added to tea (I can drink breakfast tea without milk). In the case of matcha latte, that is another story for another day.

Matcha Sundae

I was surprised to see most patisseries on the dessert menu are imported from Lanka patisserie (another place that I need to visit). So I was a bit let down that most are not made by Tombo. Nevertheless, ordered a matcha sundae. It had matcha brownie cubes and chocolate wafer straw on top, cruchy cornflakes at the bottom and if I have not mistaken it had caramel sauce too. Good matcha soft serve, but the flavour of matcha is quite mild. It melted ridiculously fast. If you're greedy, eat one by yourself. If you're on a diet, share it with a friend. In my case, I shared one with Mr T.

Matcha (hot) served with petit sweet of the day

Matcha is a fine powdered Japanese green tea. Instead of infusing the tea leaves, matcha is incorporated with hot water. A good quality matcha should have an intensive green colour which Tombo ticks the box, deep vegetal taste and a strong aroma with a lingering sweetness (umami) and a minute hint of bitterness. It is served with a dainty daifuku wagashi to overcome the bitterness but the mochi was a bit grainy. Matcha may not be to everyone's taste at first because of its strong astrigent taste but you will find to enjoy it the more sip you take. 

Zen (sencha)

Beside matcha, I had a pot of sencha. Tombo Japanese green tea is sourced from the Maruyama Tea Estate in Kakegawa at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan. Sencha is a classic Japanese green tea, and at Tombo; the leaves of  green tea are steamed twice as long as regular sencha to bring out the sweetness and richness of the tea.This is of superb quality, greenish golden colour with a touch of natural sweetness and grassy flavour with resinous aroma and minimal astringency. It's definitely the grassy flavour that I look for in sencha, on par with what I had at Postcard Teas. Even the sencha from the likes of Harrods, TWG and Mariage Frères does not have this grassiness to it and a price tag of twice or more compared to Tombo.

Tombo does superb tea, I even walked away with two bags of loose tea leaves. Food wise can't really comment since we didn't have food there. Dessert wise, decent green tea soft serve and I can tell the cakes are probably equally good. It's a café after all, so don't expect much of attentive service. It's definitely a place for a wonderful cup of tea with a piece of cake on a afternoon chatting and relaxing.

Score Rating: 3.5/5
Price: £7-20/head

Tombo on Urbanspoon

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