by Ali Evans on May 19th, 2016
This month I spoke with Gareth, owner of the Red Roof cafe on the Isle of Skye, one of the most northerly spots you can order a pot of Canton Tea.
Tell us a little about Red Roof cafe
The Red Roof is a cafe at the end of a windy, dead-end single track road in the north west of the Isle of Skye. We’re primarily a cafe that serves high quality tea, coffee, home baking and lunches, but we also love to display the work of local artists and have live traditional music events.
It’s a mad place for a cafe….so we’re always delighted when people make the drive to come and visit us. It’s a lovely quiet peaceful spot, this week we have enjoyed sitting outside listening to the lambs, cuckoos and skyelarks. The cafe is seasonal and open from Easter to October.
What is the ethos behind what you serve?
Our cafe mantra is: ‘Always home baked, fresh seasonal and fairly traded, local and organic if possible.’ We try to source as much of our food and drink as we can from the local area and Scotland. We are on a mission towards being a truly sustainable cafe, and try to minimise our impact on the environment and maximise social benefits to our local community with everything we do.
We like to meet all our suppliers to really understand where our food comes from and to buy directly from the producers if we can. However that’s not possible with every single item. So with tea and coffee we rely on suppliers like Canton Tea who share our ethos and take as much care to source their produce as we do with our food.
When did you first start serving Canton Tea?
Last summer Carri from Canton Tea was on holiday on the Isle of Skye and happened to pop into our cafe for lunch. We got talking about tea, and as luck would have it, she had some tea samples with her and introduced us to Canton Tea.
I used to visit China on business trips and ever since I’ve been searching for some really good Chinese teas. I’ve always struggled to find good quality Chinese teas in the UK that also have clear provenance. After chatting to Carri and trying some samples it was clear that Canton Tea was the supplier I had been looking for.
What’s your personal favourite Canton Tea you serve?
My favourite tea is Te Guan Yin, Iron Buddha Oolong. It’s great with a local lobster salad we serve. My wife Iona likes the Canton Organic Earl Grey with our home baked coconut, cardamom and white chocolate cake.
What can we expect to see next from Red Roof?
I would love to start serving Puerh tea, but it might be a hard sell in the Highlands! I’m always trying to encourage people to be a bit more adventurous with tea choice and to trying something different occasionally.
The bigger picture is to gradually build up our small-holding around the cafe. We already supply all of the eggs for the cafe from our 15 hens and 4 ducks. This year our focus is on establishing growing space and producing the first salad leaves and herbs for the cafe. Longer term we might even plant a few tea bushes ourselves! So watch the space for the Red Roof first flush tea….
If you’re planning on visiting the Isle of Skye this summer, make sure you pop on by Red Roof cafe. Visit www.redroofskye.co.uk for more information and directions for where you can find Red Roof cafe at the end of that long windy road.