By Anton Constantinou
If there’s one thing Londoners go mad for it’s tea. This city lives for the stuff, and we’re not just talking about the builder’s variety.
In 1706, British Merchant Thomas Twining opened London’s very first tea shop and, since then, the capital has remained a major hub for tea drinking. We love a good cuppa, and thought we’d take a look at some of the best places to get one.
We give you our tea tour of London:
1. Twinings Tea Shop & Museum
Our tea tour begins at Twinings – The oldest tea shop in London – which incidentally doubles as a museum. Visitors are taken on an exciting journey into the company’s history and are invited to try a variety of teas from porcelain sampling dishes. The shop features an awesome pic ‘n mix wall with multiple different varieties of tea, and a glorious loose tea bar. There are also tea master classes for you to take part in!
2. Postcard Teas
Postcard Teas was the very first tea company to put the maker’s name and location on all of its blends, and today enjoys an enchanting home in an old Dickensian building in Mayfair. Its tea is sourced from all over the world, and comes beautifully packaged. The shop has some marvellous tea postcards for sale, so be sure to purchase one on your next visit. For those interested in exploring Mayfair further, T-lovers do a fantastic tour of the area and its hidden tea gems.
3. My Cup of Tea
If immersive experiences are your thing, then this tea shop should be well up your street. My Cup of Tea brings visitors up to speed with all the essentials of herbal blending by putting on some awesome tastings and workshops. The shop also boasts an extensive product range, including some fabulous teaware. All tea is sold by weight, and can be touched, tasted and smelt before being purchased.
Tiosk is an uber cool tea room in Hackney specialising in whole leaf tea. Originally a stall in Broadway Market, the shop now has a fixed site in the same location. It has a simple, minimalist feel, and offers tea gifts of all shapes and sizes, from matcha whisks to glass tea tumblers. There are some beautiful ceramics for sale here, as well as trays, linens and aprons.
5. Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
Britain’s original cat cafe does high tea like no other. Experience what it’s like to have a load of furry felines running around your feet as you tuck into a cup of Earl Grey and a well-deserved scone. The café gets super busy, so be sure to book well in advance. High tea costs £25 per person, and includes entry to the emporium.
There are lots of great places to go for afternoon tea in London, but one of our personal favourites is the Gallery restaurant at Sketch. With its domed ceiling and pretty pink scalloped chairs, this restaurant offers an inspiring setting for eating and drinking. Afternoon tea begins with a glass of champagne, followed by a sensory sampling of numerous brews. Accompanying the feast is a delectable array of pastries, cakes and sandwiches.
7. Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum & Mason is the Queen’s shop of choice for groceries, including biscuits, preserves, and, of course, tea. The luxury department store brings together an incredible selection of hampers, homeware, and boasts its very own tea room in the form of the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. This afternoon tea experience is not one to miss.
8. Xu Teahouse & Restaurant
Tea and whisky are not exactly an obvious pairing, but Xu has done a tremendous job of bringing the two together. The focus here is Taiwan’s tea culture, which is known for its charming oolong tea fields. The restaurant and teahouse reinterprets 1930s Taipei and is open seven days a week.
So, there you have it – our tea tour of London. Have we missed anything? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.