British Wine and Tea Shop

Editor’s Note: A commenter has let us know that as of May 2015 the menu at the British Wine and Tea Shop has changed; no meals are being served, though tea service and light snack food items are still available. Always call ahead before making the trek to this establishment to confirm their hours of operation (English spoken).

CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER GELORMINE
PHOTOS BY Pamela Oliveras

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CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER GELORMINE

My husband and I are geocachers, which basically means that we pull out the GPS, plug in given sets of coordinates, and go treasure hunting all over the island of Okinawa. We’re still pretty new to the sport, but in the spirit of wanting to explore our still-new-to-us home, we’re venturing further and further away with each day that passes. Today our travels took us right to the doorstep of The British Tea and Wine Shop, a fantastically cute and still virtually unknown restaurant a little north of Nago.
As we pulled into the driveway of the not-quite-well-marked-enough house-slash-restaurant, we were immediately greeted by two tiny and vocal poodles, Ollie and Cromwell. As I stepped out of my car I saw a little head peek around the corner of the wooden porch, and excitedly exclaim, “More treasure hunters, Chef!” The owner/proprietor, John, met us in the empty parking lot, asking if we were there to find lost treasure (there’s a cache right there on his property). “We sure are,” we told him, “But we’re hungry. Can we eat first?”

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That was all John needed to welcome us into his home. As my husband later said, eating here was like eating at an old friend’s house. John was not just hospitable and helpful, he was chatty, bright, and genuinely grateful to have English-speaking customers with whom to converse. As we learned throughout the course of our hour and a half stay, John and his wife, Maki, moved to Okinawa two and a half years ago to open a restaurant. John was originally from London, and Maki from mainland Japan, but they met in Hong Kong and decided to return to Maki’s homeland, where he could put his PR skills to use while she could ensue her passion for cooking. They ultimately found that Okinawa was a much more feasible venture for them, and opened their restaurant upon moving here.
I’ve been told that The British Tea and Wine House has a menu, but I never saw one. Instead, John informed us that they had two types of fresh pasta in the making, and would we like them? “Of course, that sounds delicious,” we answered, and with that our meal was prepared and brought to us based upon John’s whims and Maki’s cooking. We were not disappointed.
Between my husband and me, we ate full plates of rigatoni with bolognese sauce, and penne with a creamy mint and cheese sauce, each with a pressed salad and local greens on the side. Our children ate off of our plates, but I understand that there’s a child-friendly menu available. It’s not surprising, as John welcomed our five-year-old daughter and year-and-a-half-old son into his restaurant with open arms, guiding us to a wrap-around couch, encouraging them to stand up on the leather seats, and bringing toys for them to play with while we waited for our meal.

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You should note, if visiting here with young children you may want to bring your own booster seat, as they did not have a high chair available. But John was happy to see that midway through our meal, our children had decided to explore the restaurant. You see, we were the only ones there, and had John’s attention to ourselves for the duration of our stay. It was a bit unnerving at first, given that there was seating for nearly forty people on the main floor, and probably ten or more in the upstairs loft, which I didn’t have the chance to explore, but we rather enjoyed it once John pulled out his atlas to help me figure out where my ancestors came from in relation to where he hails from.
Our daughter was given the choice of canned pineapple juice or fresh papaya juice from his garden, and my husband and I decided that for our beverage, when in a British Tea Shop… (You should also note that ordering coffee here would be a faux-pas, as they don’t serve it. It’s a British tea shop, after all.) Our meals were served on Wedgwood china (“These were the plates the Emperor used!” John told us), and our tea was brought to us in a steaming silver tea service, complete with strainer as “Tea bags do not make real tea”, and he even allowed us milk, though the proper way to drink British tea is with sugar and lemon.

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After our meal, we were presented with a huge, moist, steaming raisin scone fresh from the oven and lightly dusted with powdered sugar, served with clotted cream and papaya preserves freshly made that morning from the organic fruits grown in his garden. Our daughter was given a hearty portion of some of the most decadent flourless chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten, with a hearty portion of homemade ice cream on the side. Fortunately for me, she liked the ice cream better than the cake, and I was able to eat more than my fair share of that treat. John also brought a much smaller portion of the chocolate cake for my son, who very unceremoniously shoved it all into his mouth and signed, “More! More!”
To my understanding, this tea and wine shop also has a small winery attached to it. We didn’t sample any of that fare, but from what I’ve read on our geocaching site, the wine was quite tasty. I also learned that the menu has quite a few choices, and the prices are reasonable. I didn’t ask the price of anything; I had been enjoying the experience so thoroughly that I happily paid our bill, which for all our fresh, homemade food came to just over 4100 Yen. We left with full bellies and full hearts, and promises to return again. And again. And again. And we will.

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British Wine and Tea Shop

Hours:  Hours and days of operation vary. Please call ahead to be check and/or make a reservation.
Phone: 098-047-7133 (John and Maki both speak excellent English.)
Address: Izumi Motobu-cho, Okinawa, Japan 905-0221
GPS Coordinates: 26.645182, 127.952614
Directions: Leaving from Kadena Gate 1, go north on 58, or get on the Expressway to Nago. Pass through Nago proper, following the signs for the Ocean Expo Park and Churaumi Aquarium. Take a left onto 84, and follow past the Nago Pineapple Park. About 2 km past the Pineapple Park are signs for a shrimp shop and a cafe on your left. You’ll have two chances to make this left turn; if you miss the first you can turn about 100 feet later. You’ll see a small sign for the British Tea and Wine Shop here. (If you see the first of the fish topiary on the side of the road, you’ve gone too far.)
Once on this small auxiliary street, turn onto the downward sloping paved road, and follow for another km. At the bottom of the hill will be a small cafe. Continue driving on the road to your left, and follow until you see a sign for a cafe and the Tea Shop. Take a right onto this driveway, but bear left. Up the very steep hill, the restaurant will be on your right. There’s parking in front of the house, enough spaces for probably five or six cars total. This house is located in the middle of seemingly nowhere, surrounded by woods and orange groves. Don’t worry if it looks like you’re in someone’s driveway; you’re in the right place.

37 COMMENTS

  1. John and Maki do in fact serve food again. Light lunch and dinner fare as well as their famous scones! They will be departing on holiday6 to the UK this month until September. You really must make a visit if for nothing else but the scones! And be sure to ask John for a psychic reading! He’ll astound and amaze you!!

  2. We have not been in several years, but we went back on Sunday. They are still open, but scaled the operation back due to medical/family reasons. They do not serve meals any longer (unless previously arranged with a couple days notice), but still have pavlova, scones, cakes and the like. Both poodles, Ollie and Cromwell, are still there, but John and Maki’s young daughter is a new, and cute, addition.

    • Thanks for this updated information, Bill; I’ve added a note at the top of this post to direct readers to your comment.

  3. It is still open but they go on vacation during August and September. Also, the turn off 84 is 4km past Pineapple Park. After the park continue on 84, cross 72 then the sign is on the left after you go down a hill. Meal was excellent, def “the best in Alcatraz” as John oft proclaimed!

  4. Just stopped by for lunch and wanted to let everyone know that they will be “on holiday” from AUG-OCT and said they should be back open for business on October 6th. We brought him a couple military coins after reading a previous comment. His daughter is now 20 months old and they are “working on” a little brother for her. They have 2 adorable black toy poodles who are pleased to meet everyone who arrives. I have to say that I tried to find the place two years ago when a friend came to visit and could not find it (turns out we were so close!) but THIS time we used the coordinates given by another person who posted here (the coordinates: 26.645182, 127.952614 – For the non-GPS types just through that into a google search box and click the maps button on your iPhone for an instant map). We just happened to stop by on the last day before they were closing for vacation and had the most fabulous lunch (pasta with meat sauce – not just your ho hum pasta but really delish with lots of flavor and the curry my husband had was lovely as well) and even better than the fabulous lunch… The SCONES TO DIE FOR!!!! Holy wow. Never never never in my life have I have anything so amazing and called it a scone. I thought I didn’t like scones. Silly silly me. I just never had the British Wine and Tea Shop scones. I ordered the chocolate cake (BELGIAN chocolate as John will emphasize) which honestly was quite yummy (though could have used some ice cream or cream or something of the sort to balance out the amazing rich chocolate), but surprisingly it was my husband’s scone that I wished I’d ordered. I could have gone back the next day (if they’d been open) and ordered 29 scones with cream and eaten them ALL. WOW WOW WOW WOW. The scone was light and heavenly. Not too sweet, not unsweet, just the perfect marriage of heaven and earth with a little extra heaven on the side. Order the scone when you get there (they ask for 15 minutes prep time). Sitting on the wooden porch among the trees enjoying the rare Okinawan breeze and listening to the sounds of nature, we loved the view of the jungle-like foliage and the conversation with John. He tells it like he sees it and kept us entertained the entire time. What a treat to enjoy a fabulous meal and some conversation with a straightforward English bloke!

  5. We headed up to the British Wine and Tea Shop today and it was fabulous!! John is hilarious and the food was delicious.

    I wanted to let everyone know though that they are closed on Thursdays as well as Fridays. Above it says that they are just closed on Fridays, however that information is from a few years ago.

    John also told us that they will be closed this August and September,
    so definitely call before you head up to make sure that they are open.

  6. Maki and John continue offering their excellent and unique restaurant in Izumi serving delicious meals and British afternoon tea. All of their items on their menus are as John states made with ingredients that “don’t come out of a can.” Their commitment to fresh food includes flying in daily from Nagano double clotted cream to spread on freshly baked scones. The curry is the best on Okinawa with a recipe that John deftly avoids revealing. With their creations come service that includes true charm and dry British wit. The restaurant offers unique British antiques and artwork plus pictures of Maki and John’s happy six-month-old baby girl.

  7. We tried this place today at around 1230 and it was closed. It was our mistake though… didn’t scroll down and read the most recent posts about the possible ‘weekend only’ hours now. We may try again, but will call first! 🙂

  8. My husband took me to this wonderful place for our anniversary. Absolutely wonderful- definitely worth the drive!!!!! Chef John prepared a special dinner for us–shrimp with arugula salad, Stuffed Chicken breast, Beef bourguignon, potatoes, vegetables, and red wine. Delicious–everything was made with such love n pride. Let me not forget to mention our babysitter cancelled at the last minute and John told me to not worry and bring them along. So our 4 children all under the age of 6 enoyed homemade pasta and rolls while hubby and I devoured our meal. My kids loved the dogs and open space as well the singing waiter (John)!!
    As my husband and I sipped on a little tea, John brought out “the real” cheesecake, parfait, truffles, meringue w/passionfruit, and bread pudding with fresh custard…mmm mmm good. Did I say delish?!
    A must try if they open after their bundle arrives…remember to bring a military coin for the chef:)

  9. Just had the pleasure of going this past weekend. Hurry up there while you can, Maki is currently 8 months pregnant with their baby girl and she doesn’t know if she’ll have the energy after the birth for them to stay open. John says plans are (for the moment) only to be open on weekends once the little one arrives.

  10. Recently went, directions were spot on and well worth the drive. I’m no wine connoisseur but had the most amazing white wine (English Bacchus Dry)…bought a few to enjoy home.

  11. Just went there today and was NOT disappointed. However, despite there being lots of comments I’ll add some clarifying directions! It is 4 km past the Pineapple Park while driving on the 84. After passing route 72 start looking for a wooden sign on your left that says ‘Izumi’. The NEXT road after the sign is your turn. Turn left off the 84 here. Unfortunately there are no signs on the 84 for the British Tea Shop. Turn left at the next road and it does have a sign as pictured up top. Follow these signs or some green cafe signs (different restaurant but close in vicinity). Call them if you start to get lost AT ALL! 098-047-7133. Oh yes… today John said they would be closed for December and early January.

  12. Second trip there today! LOVE the scones. We lived in the UK for 3 years and they are as good as anything we ever had in Cornwall!! (In fact, my husband thinks BETTER.) John & Maki are lovely and truly make you feel just like you’ve come to their home. We’re planning my teenagers b-day party to be up there — afternoon tea and a murder mystery set in Elizabethan England!! 🙂

  13. Went today and loved it. Had a little trouble following the directions as we were coming from the other way. Since the write up mentioned geo-cashing I thought you GPS types might appreciate the coordinates: 26.645182, 127.952614.

    For the non-GPS types just through that into a google search box and click the maps button. It’ll draw you a map to perfect british tea and scones.

  14. After looking for this place for more than 30 minutes, we finally found it. The turn off of 84 is exactly THREE km from Pineapple Park, not 2. After that it was easy.

  15. Went for lunch today. We had a GREAT time and I highly recommend the chocolate cake! We took home 8 homemade, gi-normous, delicious scones. If you’re in the Motobu area, I highly recommend going out of your way for a sip of tea and lunch. Wonderful experience.

  16. Hey we went and I took some photographic directions on the way and was wondering how I would go about posting those for htose who are a little more timid about the directions. Anyone know how I go about that? We just loved the little restaurant and can’t wait to go back again. We recommend it to anyone!!

  17. Just wanted to make sure y’all saw the awesome new pics to accompany the article taken by Pamela. Oh, I forgot to mention when I went there how awesome the chocolate cake was. The best I’ve had on the island so far. It was even still warm from the oven. I got some scones to take home, but only one survived the trip! It was too tempting not to eat. Also fresh baked. Oh, and the artwork there was really cool. When we pointed out how striking their sign was (pictured above), John told us that it was done by his friend Ralph Steadman, whose illustrations you might recognize from, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. There were pieces by him all over the restaurant…so interesting. He even did the menu.

    I agree with Stephanie O. Worth the drive!

  18. Just went today. Great!! We had an early lunch and decided to stop here around 2ish for some dessert and afternoon tea. It was relatively easy to find… just make sure that you make the turn at the sign with the shrimp/prawn. From there you will see the British Wine & Tea Shop signs. The dessert was amazing and as it was said the owners are very friendly. John came over for a chat.. very funny man. When we asked his hours, he told us whenever we stop by since they live upstairs…. but call ahead before if it’s after 6pm or on a Friday to make sure. Definitely worth the drive!!

  19. Joelle, I just called and Maki told me the hours were 11-6pm and that they are closed on Fridays, so I don’t know what happened on Wednesday for you! 🙁 I went here last week for the first time, it was really, really fun, so you have to try again! When I asked the hours then, Maki’s husband, John, said it was open for as long as we wanted to spend money…Okay, not so specific! I’m putting the hours in the post, with the caveat that one should call…just in case. Hope you make it back!

  20. Was SOOO excited to try this place today. We went after the aquarium, but they were CLOSED. It was 5pm on a Wednesday — and I realized this post doesn’t list the hours. Anybody know? I’d love to try it later.

    Also, I’ll add that it’s more like 5km past the Pineapple Park on 84.

  21. Going here today. Yeah! Can’t wait! David, I checked for the cache name on the Oki-Geocaching website, but it was down. Hopefully I can find it for you soon. Glad you’re feeling enthusiastic about coming here. I’m so sad I’m leaving this summer!

  22. Can you post the cache name? We are headed back to Oki in May, and one of our big things is to get out and explore the island. We were there from 03-06, and only regret not really appreciating what the island had to offer. We won’t make that mistake this time!

  23. We just got home from eating here and it was everything you said. It was delicious!! It was very scenic and the Couple who own the restuarant were very nice and welcoming. My kids were running wild and the Chef did not seem to mind one bit. We shared your post with the chef and he said there is no winery attached to the house. Just a note, as we were talking to the Chef he mentioned he is collecting the Military coins (not sure what they are called) and that he missees reading Papers and magazines written in English. If you happen to visit this location I am sure the Chef would be more than thrilled if you brought one or both of these things. It is well worth the drive! We plan to go back very soon.

  24. I just got off the phone with John at the British Wine and Tea Shop, trying to get some pictures. He was busy w/ 20 students visiting the shop, but he was simply fantastic! He said, “Just come up, darling.” And I want to hop in the car now! Then he passed the phone to the professor of the students, Caroline, who was super-friendly. She told me how they were eating five kinds of sandwiches with imported cheeses and homemade scones with homemade papaya jam. She said it’s just a really special place and that you won’t find anything else like it in Okinawa, maybe not even mainland Japan (except maybe Tokyo.)

    Oh, and John said they are closed Fridays (except today for the field trip). Hope to get pictures soon when I (or one of you?!) make it up there. Meanwhile, check the website link above for a sense of the atmosphere and also a little map.

    Thanks for the article, Heather! Can’t wait to see what people think!

  25. This place sounds very delightful! Did you take a picture of the outside? You know kinda like oh thats the spot for us who get lost on the simplest direction lol? .I am begging my hubby to go with me.
    Thank you.

  26. OH MY GOSH! I’ve been driving on 84 past this turn off nearly every day for a month and had no idea it was there! I can’t wait to check it out this weekend, thanks for the info!

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