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Where to Drink Tea In London

It’s always time for a brew

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London took to speciality coffee much faster than speciality tea — perhaps because the potent mythology of “builders” (that’s English breakfast tea, milk and two sugars) has dominated the British understanding of an “everyman’s” drink. One that is inextricably bound with Britain’s imperial past, of course. But change is brewing in the capital, and it’s being brewed carefully. World-class tea importers partner happily with the shops, cafés and restaurants that serve their wares; tea has become an ingredient — prized for its variety and clarity — as well as a drink. Get someone else to put the (temperature-controlled) kettle on, and explore a world of loose leaf.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Store Street Espresso

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40 Store St, Fitzrovia
London WC1E 7DB, UK

This Fitzrovia/Bloomsbury café has held down Store Street for many a year, and was one of the first of London’s specialty coffee shops to treat tea as its equal rather than an afterthought. Carefully prepared matcha from Lalani & Co is the go-to here: for an off-menu special, a “matchado,” shorter and stronger than the matcha latte, is a fine order.

2. Prufrock Coffee

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23-25 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7TE, UK

While Prufrock is probably the essential London coffee shop, it is worthy of note here, too. The same fastidious approach that defines coffee service underpins its approach to teas, too, and a longstanding relationship with Postcard Teas means an intimate understanding of how to best capture the essence of a given tea. That same relationship also means that Prufrock was the first to feature Postcard’s new range of stone-rolled teas: ground to a fine powder in Postcard’s Camden warehouse, the teas are mixed with steamed milk to create an aromatic alternative to coffee.

Stone-rolled milk teas at Prufrock
taste2taste/Instagram

3. WA Cafe

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32 Haven Green
London W5 2NX, UK

This little shop on Ealing’s Haven Green specialises in high quality Japanese patisserie, often flavoured with matcha. The offering is exquisite, and so deserves a high-quality drink to partner even though it will most certainly stand on its own. The tea roster is wide, the preparation careful, and its prominence on a residential thoroughfare promising: the kind of tea and pastry shop that any neighbourhood would and should welcome.

4. TAB x TAB

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Westbourne House, 14-16, Westbourne Grove
London W2 5RH, UK

TABxTAB is a relative newcomer to Westbourne Grove, but since opening in summer last year, it has stood apart from its neighbours as a cafe that’s singly dedicated to quality and the customer experience. Every detail here is considered, and the tea is no different. A range of teas from pu’er through oolong to a ceremonial grade matcha are painstakingly prepared, with multiple infusions available of the leaf teas to fully express the character of each tea.

5. Postcard Teas

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9 Dering St, Mayfair
London W1S 1AG, UK

Stepping into Postcard is like stepping into an airlock of sorts; it’s easy to lose track of hours here, in what is surely the most relaxing and welcoming escape from the madness of Oxford Street. Since 2005, Postcard has been committed to championing “small tea”; all are sourced directly from plantations smaller than 15 acres (and frequently smaller than 5) across Asia, and the team are always eager to put the growers at the centre of the picture. A singly disarming location, with an incredibly passionate team selling (and leading tastings of) some of the most elegant teas available.

6. Wasoukan

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Earl of Lonsdale, 293 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2QA, UK

Matcha, Sencha, Houjicha, Genmaicha and Mugicha: this kimono shop with an adjacent tea bar is a haven for Japanese green teas. Houjicha — a roasted green tea, uncommon as most Japanese green teas are steamed — is a fine order, but the real star is matcha, either whisked up into the usucha (thinner, foamier) or koicha (richer, thicker) preparation. Whether in the market for a kimono or not, this is a focused space dedicated to showing London how specialised tea can be.

7. Claridge's

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Brook Street, Mayfair
London W1K 4HR, UK

Afternoon tea is the big draw in this London institution, but its careful attention to sourcing means that tea at any time of day is a considered, delicious affair. Serving teas from Henrietta Lovell’s renowned Rare Tea Co., Claridge’s balances the need for proprietary blends and myth-making with highly specialised loose leaf: a stand-out is the Malawi Antler, a tea made not from leaves but the stems of spring shoots.

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1. Store Street Espresso

40 Store St, Fitzrovia, London WC1E 7DB, UK

This Fitzrovia/Bloomsbury café has held down Store Street for many a year, and was one of the first of London’s specialty coffee shops to treat tea as its equal rather than an afterthought. Carefully prepared matcha from Lalani & Co is the go-to here: for an off-menu special, a “matchado,” shorter and stronger than the matcha latte, is a fine order.

40 Store St, Fitzrovia
London WC1E 7DB, UK

2. Prufrock Coffee

23-25 Leather Ln, London EC1N 7TE, UK
Stone-rolled milk teas at Prufrock
taste2taste/Instagram

While Prufrock is probably the essential London coffee shop, it is worthy of note here, too. The same fastidious approach that defines coffee service underpins its approach to teas, too, and a longstanding relationship with Postcard Teas means an intimate understanding of how to best capture the essence of a given tea. That same relationship also means that Prufrock was the first to feature Postcard’s new range of stone-rolled teas: ground to a fine powder in Postcard’s Camden warehouse, the teas are mixed with steamed milk to create an aromatic alternative to coffee.

23-25 Leather Ln
London EC1N 7TE, UK

3. WA Cafe

32 Haven Green, London W5 2NX, UK

This little shop on Ealing’s Haven Green specialises in high quality Japanese patisserie, often flavoured with matcha. The offering is exquisite, and so deserves a high-quality drink to partner even though it will most certainly stand on its own. The tea roster is wide, the preparation careful, and its prominence on a residential thoroughfare promising: the kind of tea and pastry shop that any neighbourhood would and should welcome.

32 Haven Green
London W5 2NX, UK

4. TAB x TAB

Westbourne House, 14-16, Westbourne Grove, London W2 5RH, UK

TABxTAB is a relative newcomer to Westbourne Grove, but since opening in summer last year, it has stood apart from its neighbours as a cafe that’s singly dedicated to quality and the customer experience. Every detail here is considered, and the tea is no different. A range of teas from pu’er through oolong to a ceremonial grade matcha are painstakingly prepared, with multiple infusions available of the leaf teas to fully express the character of each tea.

Westbourne House, 14-16, Westbourne Grove
London W2 5RH, UK

5. Postcard Teas

9 Dering St, Mayfair, London W1S 1AG, UK

Stepping into Postcard is like stepping into an airlock of sorts; it’s easy to lose track of hours here, in what is surely the most relaxing and welcoming escape from the madness of Oxford Street. Since 2005, Postcard has been committed to championing “small tea”; all are sourced directly from plantations smaller than 15 acres (and frequently smaller than 5) across Asia, and the team are always eager to put the growers at the centre of the picture. A singly disarming location, with an incredibly passionate team selling (and leading tastings of) some of the most elegant teas available.

9 Dering St, Mayfair
London W1S 1AG, UK

6. Wasoukan

Earl of Lonsdale, 293 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2QA, UK

Matcha, Sencha, Houjicha, Genmaicha and Mugicha: this kimono shop with an adjacent tea bar is a haven for Japanese green teas. Houjicha — a roasted green tea, uncommon as most Japanese green teas are steamed — is a fine order, but the real star is matcha, either whisked up into the usucha (thinner, foamier) or koicha (richer, thicker) preparation. Whether in the market for a kimono or not, this is a focused space dedicated to showing London how specialised tea can be.

Earl of Lonsdale, 293 Westbourne Grove
London W11 2QA, UK

7. Claridge's

Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR, UK

Afternoon tea is the big draw in this London institution, but its careful attention to sourcing means that tea at any time of day is a considered, delicious affair. Serving teas from Henrietta Lovell’s renowned Rare Tea Co., Claridge’s balances the need for proprietary blends and myth-making with highly specialised loose leaf: a stand-out is the Malawi Antler, a tea made not from leaves but the stems of spring shoots.

Brook Street, Mayfair
London W1K 4HR, UK

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