The Best London Tea Shops
Plenty of cafes can make an Earl Grey or an English Breakfast, but London tea shops have far more to offer
Step away from that insta-friendly latte art and rediscover the art of the leaf.
Mariage Frères – Covent Garden
Best for: tea gastronomy and a taste of French luxury
France’s oldest tea house, Mariage Frères, has opened its first UK tea emporium in Covent Garden. The brand has been a staple in Paris since it began operating out of the Marais district in 1854, when it was founded by brothers Henri and Edouard Mariage. Rather excitingly (for lovers of tea), Mariage Frères' London branch is its largest to date and housed in a beautiful five-storey, listed Georgian townhouse on King Street.
Boasting the largest collection of teas in the world, from vintage and rare to fruity and herbal, the new site hosts a retail space, a restaurant specialising in tea gastronomy, a tea museum and two private event spaces. The shop offers all things related to our favourite brew: from tea-scented candles to teacups, books and paraphernalia. Meanwhile freshly brewed Mariage Frères teas are available alongside a selection of sweet and savoury pastries in the restaurant, and head chef Felix Richard is preparing larger tea-themed meals. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the second floor, where The Musée du Thé showcase tea antiques from around the world. Guests can mosey around the hand-illustrated tea chests, Chinese furniture, old archives and an array of curiosities promising to provide a fascinating insight into the history of tea.
Where: 38 King Street, WC2E 8JS
Our favourite tea: the brand’s signature Marco Polo blend.
My Cup of Tea – Soho
Best for: tea-blending workshops
Head to Soho Blend for a tisane blending workshops and a chance to learn the essentials of herbal blending. The best bit? You'll get to make your own blend using the freshest herbs from this year's summer harvest. The interactive session is a chance to taste a wide range of tisanes and learn where they come from, before choosing your favourites and blending two unique creations to take home and sip at your leisure.
Where: 5 Denman Place, London, W1D 7AH
Our favourite tea: The rose and cardamom – refreshing, soothing and light.
Tiosk – Hackney
Best for: the arty minimalist aesthetic
This little slice of hipster heaven started life as a stall on Broadway Market. They now have a permanent site there and have banished any sign of tea shop twee. It serves up the refined, minimalist coffee shop experience but for lovers of leaves not beans. Think rustic teaware, white walls and pale earthy tones.
Where: 33 Broadway Market E8 4HP
Our favourite tea: Ceylon Dimbula Loose Leaf
Postcard Teas – Mayfair
Best for: rare, ethically sourced teas
If you are looking for high quality, expert knowledge and ethical sourcing, then Postcard Teas should be your first stop. Housed in a very Dickensian building in Mayfair, this famous little temple to tea (Nigel Slater is a fan) was the first tea company in the world to put the maker’s name and location on each pack. They stock some very rare leaves, from hand-picked Long Jing from Meijiawu to Wuyi oolongs from 100-year-old wild trees.
Owner Timothy d’Offay and his small team source directly from small farms of less than 15 acres only, which they believe is better for both producers and the planet. It is certainly better for the tea, which is some of the best in London. If you are overwhelmed by the choice on offer you can try before you buy: sit down at the communal table and try a little sample cup for a fraction of the price.
Book in to one of their popular Saturday morning tea tastings to learn more from some of the most widely travelled experts in the business. Then send a pretty postcard filled with 50g of their leaves to someone you love, anywhere in the world.
Where: 9 Dering Street W1S 1AG
Our favourite tea: Master Luo’s West Lake Long Jing
Good & Proper Tea – Clerkenwell
Best for: cool events, and crumpets
Founder Emilie Holmes quit a career in advertising to bring proper tea to a capital in the grip of a coffee craze. It all started with a crowdfunding campaign to convert a 1974 Citroën-H into a mobile tea bar that she would drive around festivals and food markets.
Now there’s a flagship tea shop on Leather Lane where she sells seriously lovely and sustainably sourced loose leaf teas (though the tea van is still on the move). There are also regular events such as wood carving, kombucha making, literary talks and meditation sessions, as well as monthly tea tastings. And did we mention they do the most amazing homemade crumpets?
Where: 96 Leather Lane EC1N 7TX
Our favourite tea: Wild Rooibos
Katsute100 – Angel
Best for: the zen atmosphere
Katsute100 is a beautiful and intimate space. Light pours through the gorgeous Georgian window frames into a room filled with pretty vintage furniture and lovely Japanese pottery. There is an amazing selection of Japanese loose leaf teas, as well as light snacks and traditional Japanese sweet treats like matcha crepe cake and sakura mochi.
It’s all delicately done and a calming antidote to the more hard-edged bustling coffee shops nearby. The perfect place for a refined afternoon catch-up with friends.
Where: 100 Islington High Street N1 8EG
Our favourite tea: Iribancha
Xu – Soho
Best for: whisky tea pairings
When you think of tea the first countries that spring to mind are India, China and Japan. But Taiwan has a very special tea culture worth delving into. Famous for its aged Oolings, the tea fields of Taiwan are an integral part of the national culture.
Restaurant Xu opened to much fanfair in 2017 as a celebration of Taiwanese cuisine. But this beautiful space also has a green lacquered Tea Kiosk at the front of the restaurant, complete with its own ‘Tea Master’ serving both hot and cold brew tea. All teas ordered are infused for the correct time at the table and customers can then experiment with multiple infusions: a casual update on a traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony. They even do a special boozy tea ceremony where each tea is paired with an award-winning single malt whisky.
Where: 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL
Our favourite tea: Jin Shuan Oolong
Bluebird Tea Co. – Angel
Best for: funky flavours
Hot Mama Jama: that’s just one of the weird and wonderful blends these self-proclaimed tea ‘mixologists’ have on offer. Specialising in interesting flavour combinations, the Bluebird Tea Co. was born in Brighton and is now taking the capital by storm with its first shop on Camden Passage.
Spend some serious time chatting to staff and tasting the original blends that line the shelves around the store. They know their stuff and it is a lovely shopping experience. The bold, colourful packaging and unusual flavours make this a great place for gifts.
Where: 26 Camden Passage N1 8ED
Our favourite tea: Apple Strudel
Fortnum & Mason – Piccadilly
Best for: traditionalists
This is the grand old dame of London tea shops and it’s a tourist trap for a reason. Our top tip is to ignore the piles of novelty tins and head straight to the tea counter for loose leaf by weight. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable and, gram for gram, you’ll be surprised how affordable Fortnum’s is compared to some of the smaller shops on this list. They stock a mind-boggling range of teas, from the everyday Assams and gunpowder greens, to special occasion Dragonwell and first flush Darjeeling.
For the traditionalists who love a doily and some good old-fashioned china teacups, the afternoon tea upstairs can be booked for a special treat. Though do be warned that you need to book ahead and it gets extremely busy with tourist at the weekends.
Where: 181 Piccadilly W1A 1ER
Our favourite tea: Smoky Earl Grey
TEAS – Spitalfields
Best for: a pretty space for tea and coffee lovers alike
In the gorgeous old shop that used to host Jeanette Winterson’s Verde & Co café, this ‘modern tearoom’ combines sleek brewing contraptions and plush interiors. Think black marble snazzy floor tiles and pink velvet sofas: it’s Instagram heaven.
The selling point is the precision with which their brewing technology controls the water temperature and extraction time, so that every cup is perfect, whatever the blend. They have their own range of carefully sourced loose leaf and bagged teas for sale in store.
Luckily, they also sell delicious Monmouth Coffee and Artisan du Chocolat hot chocolate, so it’s the perfect place for tea and coffee lovers alike.
Where: 40 Brushfield Street E1 6AG
Our favourite tea: Iced Matcha Latte
The Lost Tea Company – Various
Best for: eating your tea
This start-up from the brother of Tart founder Lucy Carr-Ellison is bringing Burmese fermented tea salad to London. Working with small hold farmers in the hills of Pindaya, Myanmar, the Lost Tea Company has a strong focus on sustainability and aims to bring greater attention to the teas of Myanmar.
They sell a lovely Burmese green tea but the headline grabber is the edible fermented tea leaves. These are the main ingredient of traditional Burmese lahpet, a tea leaf salad that gives you a chance to ‘eat your tea’.
Where: Various London food markets and online
Our favourite tea: that tea leaf salad
Jarr Bar – Hackney
Best for: being good to your gut
Kombucha is having a moment. Fermented foods and all things probiotic are the biggest trend in healthy eating right now, and of course there’s a tea for that. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink, made with tea leaves, sugar and starter cultures. It’s slightly effervescent and deliciously sweet-sour in taste.
We think Jarr Kombucha make the best in London. It’s already stocked by various cafés and shops, such as Good and Proper Tea and Planet Organic. But if you fancy a trip out to Hackney Wick you can now try their ‘booch’ fresh from the tap at ‘Europe’s first Kombucha tap room’.
Where: Mick’s Garage, Unit 8A Queens Yard E9 5EN
Our favourite tea: Ginger kombucha