Updated: Oct 19, 2019
The Great tradition of afternoon tea, is said to have been made popular in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. Europe had been swilling mugs and cups of the stuff imported from the far flung corners of the China, India and elsewhere for sometime before, but is the 4pm staple that is often seen as the quintessential English experience. Regardless if you just want to pick up a few souvenirs before heading home, or would like to while away a whole afternoon, you should hopefully find your cup of tea amongst our list of suggestions below.
Oseyo, Waterloo Road.
Great place to pick up a selection of popular oriental teas.
Including Sencha, matcha, oolongs and barley. They also sell a nice range of Korean inspired accessories, pots, cups etc.
Costcutter, Westminster Bridge Road
Our local 24hr store has a good selection of teas, from all the usual UK brands (Twinnings, Pg Tips) and also a selection of others. Ahmed Tea is a particular favourite, and often over looked brand. The Ginger infusion is another favourite if you want a little spicy, caffeine free if that’s your thing and especially good throughout the chilly London winter.
Four Corners, Lower Marsh.
A local favourite cafe is also home to a fine choice of teas, from a strong cup of builders english breakfast to an expert barista blended matcha latte.
Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall
A victorian pub dating from 1886, menu of selection of loose leaf teas, homemade cakes, and other food throughout the day. More laid back options for afternoons tea, or enjoy a cuppa in the corner while watching one of their regular variety shows. www.teahousetheatre.co.uk
Bird & Blend Tea co., Borough Market
A fantastic contemporary chain, doing the utmost to keep the tea drinkers curiousit-tea peaked. Exotic blends and strains from far and wide, including some fantastic themed teas included Harry Potter inspired, butter brew flavours, Jungle Book Chais and other exciting inspired blends.
They also run their own universiTEA classes where you can learn about tea blending, brewing and cocktail making - so you can get yourself an education from the authors of The World Atlas of Tea (Smith, K. 2016) www.birdandblendtea.com
Twinnings Store, The Strand.
A three-hundred year old site, occupying the same premises on the Strand since 1706. Still selling tea for one of the best known tea companies in the world. Sell the full range of the company’s typical teas and also exclusive blends. Displays of antique tea pots and paraphernalia, and a tasting counter. www.twinings.co.uk
Mariage Frères, Covent Garden
London’s latest and most elaborate emporium of tea. The renown French purveyor has operated since 1854. The London store has a huge range of beautiful blends and gift ideas, from painted canisters, and tea pots to silver and pewter paraphernalia.
Upstairs sitting is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
The Tea House, Neals Street.
Central London’s locale for tea and all it’s associated accessories. The store is conveniently located just around the corner from Covent Garden, it’s been providing for the tastes of London tea drinkers, and folks from all over since opening in 1982. www.theteahouseltd.com
Offers some high end teas and unique art which can be posted home.
Afternoon Tea. The following is a list of suggested locations for Afternoon Tea around the city. Many hotels and established restaurants have changing offers all the time, but this list consists of a few consistent favourites and classics, ranging (more or less) from most affordable last minute options to those for a real special occasion.
Note: the names at the bottom will probably be familiar to any Afternoon tea, aficionados - and can be an out and out expensive (if glorious) affair. It is worth keeping in mind any London hotel should still look favourably on providing any respectably dressed and polite traveller with a lone pot of tea (and maybe a biscuit) at any time of day. So if it’s just a quick cuppa for the bucket list, that can be an option also.
Soho.Secret Tea Room, Soho.
The Delauney, Alydwich
Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park
The Orangery, Kensington Palace, Kennsington Gardens
Mariage Frères, Covent Garden.
Cafe Royale, Regent Street.
Savoy, The Strand.
The Ritz, Piccadilly.
Other activit-TEAS (Tea tours & experiences)
The Way of Tea, British Museum
There are few more truly British institutes, for better or worse, than the home of ancient Egyptian mummies and the Elgin marbles. So where better to experience a traditional Japanese tea Ceremony. If you can find it The Way of Tea is held in the mysterious sounding room 92, at an auspicious time and place your author is yet to align with, still a little extra exploration is always good for building up a thirst! For more details see their website.
Take to the streets of London and discover a little more about how tea has helped change the city’s geography and history. By all accounts you should also manage to find time for a cuppa along the way.