These are the best tea bars, tea rooms and cafes in London in which to enjoy a mighty fine cup of tea. Whether your taste for tea is heritage or hipster, a decent brew is always just around the corner in the capital.
Its mission statement is 'free your tea' because Yumchaa uses loose leaf tea, which allows the flavours to develop more fully. Teabags are banned.
On the menu are over 40 black, green, white, rooibos and tisanes, with imaginative iced and frozen options. The name is an (in)fusion of the Cantonese for 'drink tea' and English for 'tasty tea'.
The Camden venue is the first of its four branches, evolving from a market stall down the way. Get great views of the market and Regent's Canal from the terrace.
Yumchaa, 91-92 Camden Lock Place, Upper Walkway West Yard, NW1 8AF. Further venues in Brick Lane, King's Cross and Soho
Tea House Theatre, Vauxhall
'While there's tea there's hope,' it says above the door of this former pub just south of Albert Embankment. Tea House Theatre (the clue is in the name) hosts a dual identity space: tea house by day and theatre by night, hosting poetry, debates, screenings and more.
Inside it's calmly warm and welcoming, your pot kept hot by a knitted tea cosy.
The broad tea menu of more than 30 brews spans black, green, white, oolong and pu'erh. There are even a few wildcards like chocolate tea, plus a steaming mug of Tetley tea for those craving a good old builder's brew.
Tea House Theatre, 139 Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5HL
Postcard Teas, Bond Street
Provenance is paramount and Postcard was the first company to include the origin of its teas on packaging, as well as the date the leaves were picked.
Taste teas at the communal table in the premises, brewed traditionally just for you, or attend tea school on Saturday mornings to discover more about tea with some of the best-travelled tea specialists around.
Perfect for presents, visitors can pick a postcard pack and write a message. The staff will then fill it with your chosen tea before posting it to the recipient of choice. Teas on offer — there are more than 100 — include London Roast, a black tea described as 'rich, aromatic, and addictive'.
Postcard Teas, 9 Dering Street, New Bond Street, W1S 1AG
Twinings Tea Shop & Museum, The Strand
Opened 300 years ago by Thomas Twining, the tea shop — reputedly the smallest in London — is barely wider than its doorway. Make sure to look up at the sign as you enter to see statues of a golden lion, a nod to the name of the first tea shop on this site, and two Chinese men, referring to the origin of tea.
At the Loose Tea Bar, have hot water added to your chosen tea and sip while you shop.
While it brews, browse the museum's artefacts including historic tea caddies, teapots and old advertisements. Top up your tea knowledge at a masterclass with a tea ambassador.
Twinings Tea Shop & Museum, 216 The Strand, WC2R 1AP
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
The stacked display of tea — on sale here for more than 300 years — is one of the first things you notice when you enter the shop floor at Fortnum & Mason. Surely a sign of great things to come...
One floor up, The Gallery restaurant has light flooding in through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Jermyn Street and Duke Street on one side, and the shop's bustling ground floor on the other, making it ideal for people-watching.
The tea selection is short but impeccable: Royal Blend tea, created for King Edward VII. Queen Anne tea, commemorating the reigning monarch when Fortnum's first opened. And Countess Grey tea, with orange pekoe teas as well as bergamot oil.
The Gallery, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
Good & Proper, Clerkenwell
Specialising in single-origin loose-leaf teas, Good & Proper's tea bar business began as a crowd-funded start-up in a van, born out of a desire to bring the quality and diversity that coffee-drinkers enjoy to those who prefer tea.
It's a great pit-stop for a midweek lunch break, or a lazy afternoon stop-off.
Inside it's calm and bright, with wall-mounted plants and pendant lamps that resemble the teapots. Every cup is custom-brewed and there are more than 25 teas to choose from, so let the staff know how you like it.
Good & Proper, 96a Leather Lane, EC1N 7TX
Best Tea Bars in London: Reader Suggestions
Milk first or after? China cup or builder's mug? Sugar or lemon? We all have our preferred way of drinking tea, which means we all have our favourite places that deliver our cup of cha just the way we like it. Here are some more of our readers' favourite spots to drink tea in London:
- The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel, 35 Charles Street, W1J 5EB
- Lamb's Cafe, 891 Lea Bridge Road, E17 9DS
- Mint Gun Club, 4a Brooke Road, N16 7LS
- Scoff & Banter Tea Rooms, 350 Oxford Street, W1C 1BY
- Candella Tea Room, 34 Kensington Church Street, W8 4HA
Did we miss your favourite place to drink tea in London? Let us know in the comments below.