London

Like a Local – London’s Top 10 Tea Houses

by Paul Stafford  |  Published November 13, 2016

Whether you call it a cuppa, char, Rosie or tea, nothing beats a good brew. Considered a British pastime, tea drinking has been a daily national activity since the era of the British Empire; however finding a good cup of tea in London is not as easy as you might think.

Delicious matcha and berries at Uluntu (Photo: Lera Mimizu)

Delicious matcha and berries at Uluntu (Photo: Lera Mimizu)

Tea is so much more than a tea bag in boiling water. In fact tea enthusiasts are wont to view that as the offal of the tea world. Here are some of the best tea-houses in London. They provide an abundance of choice in tea, and nary a teabag in sight.

Uluntu

Xhosa and Zulu for ‘Community’, Uluntu looks like a flower shop from the outside, and that’s because it is a flower shop, with a tea shop at the back, and a music space downstairs. The wonderfully creative team behind Uluntu includes Lera, a tea expert who often travels to tea farms in Asia finding the best teas to bring back and sell in London. Atmosphere is a big plus here, and little homey touches show a passion for tea that comes through in the tasting. Lera also runs regular tea meditation sessions in the café, which are highly recommended.

63 Tower Bridge Road, SE1 4TL

The Chinese Tea Company

More of a tea shop than a tea-house, The Chinese Tea Company is a great option for buying loose leaf tea and good quality teaware. Juyan has a great knowledge of tea. You can take part in their regular private tea tasting events, or simply buy a bag of tea to brew at home.

14 Portobello Green Arcade, W10 5TZ

Good and Proper Tea

The layout at Good and Proper Tea (Photo: G&P Tea)

The layout at Good and Proper Tea (Photo: G&P Tea)

The vision of G&P Tea’s founder, Emilie, is to offer high quality tea to go. Thanks to crowd-funding, Good and Proper Tea was initially able to start up from the back of a Citroën-H van. From then on they have never looked back. They are about to open their second Tea Bar on Leather Lane. They serve a wide selection of loose-leaf teas including black, oolong, green, herbal and white teas, and have a friendly staff.

Unit E, The Bower, EC1V 9NR

Drink, Shop & Do

Would you like to make a tea cosy or fascinator whilst drinking tea? Well now you can. Drink, Shop & Do offer their ‘Tea & Do’ every Saturday afternoon for groups of six or above. This includes all materials to make a range of items from baby clothes to sleeping masks. If you tire of tea there’s prosecco and cake too, although there is no knowing how that will affect your crochet.

9 Caledonian Road, N1 9DX

Teanamu Chaya Teahouse

Honey Orchid Phoenix Oolong tea at Teanamu (Photo: Teanamu)

Honey Orchid Phoenix Oolong tea at Teanamu (Photo: Teanamu)

Perhaps the most personal tea drinking experience takes place in somebody else’s house. Well that is exactly what Pei Wang’s Chaya Teahouse offers. Understandably opening hours are limited to the weekend and space must be reserved in advance. It is worth it for the afternoon tea ceremony infused with Chinese culture and artisanal tea knowhow, which makes for a very unique experience.

4 Melina Road, W12 9HZ

Tombo Café

Tombo’s owners are Japanese tea and matcha specialists. Tombo is Japanese for dragonfly, a symbol of renewal. Their tea is sourced from Mt. Fuji’s foothills and they also serve a great range of Japanese cuisine, including sushi, onigiri and temaki. There is also a delightful selection of matcha desserts as big as the main menu. Matcha tart, matcha brownie, matcha anything sweet you can think of.

29 Thurloe Place, SW7 2HQ

Tiosk

Tiosk is all about choice. If you have a favourite type of tea Tiosk probably stock it. They also have plenty you perhaps have never tried. Drink your favourites or try something new, it is also possible to buy tea leaves to take home. Tiosk was started by two entrepreneurial women tired of their jobs in fashion retail. Fashion’s loss is the tea lover’s gain.

Broadway Market, E8

China Life

A nice range on offer at Chinalife (Photo: Chinalife)

A nice range on offer at Chinalife (Photo: Chinalife)

Combining loose leaf tea with Chinese medicine and skincare, Chinalife’s aim is to promote healthy living. Their tea bar serves up a wide selection of different Chinese teas, or for the more adventurous they have their signature tea mixology cocktail list. Try the Vanilla Pin Up, which combines oolong with vanilla and cinnamon, or the fruity Lapsang Tang, a blend of smoky lapsang with raspberry and mandarin spritz.

99-105 Camden High Street, NW1 7JN

Dean Street Townhouse

One for the classy tea drinkers, Dean Street Townhouse offers one of the best value afternoon teas in London. The trend of afternoon tea among visitors to London has always been a popular one. Offered here between 3pm and 6pm, it makes for an ideal afternoon pit stop to reinvigorate after tiring explorations of central London.

69-71 Dean Street, W1D 3SE

Yumchaa

With five shops now across London and a further six stalls gracing London’s markets, Yumchaa’s policy of saying no to tea bags while providing a nice space to relax, drink tea and even study has proven popular. Like most other places on this list, there is a strong desire to brew real tea leaves in a way that gives them the freedom to move through the water freely. Yumchaa aims to select the best leaves that have retained more of their oils.

91/92 Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF

45 Berwick Street, W1F 8SF

See their website for the rest.

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