Is there anything quite as British as drinking tea? Well, this blogger’s hard-pressed to come up with anything that rivals it on that score – let alone tops it for its innate Britishness. Hardly surprising then is it that the UK capital is an absolute hotbed of not just the imbibing of the elegant beverage but also the selling, window-shopping and purchasing of it.
And, quite frankly, there’s really nowhere quite like West End or the esteemed environs of Kensington and Chelsea to give yourself the fully luxurious tea-buying experience in London. So, where exactly should you head for the finest blends of Britain’s favourite beverage for at least the last 400 years? Well, here are our suggestions…
TWG Tea Knightsbridge
(138 Brompton Road SW3 1HY)
Really, it doesn’t come much more sophisticated when shopping for tea than an hour or two spent at the Knightsbridge branch of TWG Tea. Having impressively started out on these shores as exclusively available in Harrods (which, obviously, is just down the road from this very store), this Singapore brand ensures a grand total of 46 different teas are available at this appealing outlet with its oh-so elegant storefront.
Indeed, for that reason, this one has to be the one to visit on a trip to London (not least if you’ve chosen as the base for your stay accommodation in Chelsea London) rather than the larger, more workmanlike brand in Leicester Square. But to choose when you’re in there? Well, you might want to try the English Breakfast Tea, the Earl Grey Gentleman Tea, and Tea Party Tea (each of which comes with wonderfully evocative labelling; Tower Bridge for the first, a bowler-hat the second and Alice in Wonderland-esque for the third). And, if you’re in the mood to push the boat out, how about trying their gold-dusted tea? How about it, indeed!
T2 Tea Chelsea
(96 King’s Road SW3 4TZ)
Über-trendy on the outside, sleek, stylish and professional on the inside; it’s fair to say this establishment’s very Chelsea, indeed. Yes, it’s hardly the old-fashioned elegance of other tea shops on this list but, if dependably high-quality blends for either your own consumption or some serious souvenir gifts for those back home are what you’re after, this is the place to come to, all right. An Australian-based business (and ideally situated for those stating at our nearby San Domenico House hotel Chelsea, of course), its ‘tea packs’ are what maybe makes it stand out from the crowd – in addition to all the punchy colours of its interior décor, naturally – with their tea, spoon and infuser, all included. But which tea to plump for here above all else? Well, we recommend the Morning Sunshine; its mixture of Assam, Darjeeling and Rwandan estate black teas is, for sure, a very hard-to-top way to kick-start the day.
Fortnum & Mason
(181 Piccadilly W1A 1ER)
Renowned across the world for being one of its most salubrious and decorous department stores, this most luxurious of London retail establishments is, sure, far from merely a tea shop, yet it would be remiss of us not to feature it on this list – given the old-world immaculate outlet’s been stocking the most aristocratic teas imaginable for more than three centuries now.
This ground-floor section of the overall legendary establishment that’s Fortnum & Mason really is something to behold, all right – for the variety, diversity and quality of all its teas; in fact, you may say that it’s a selection that’s pretty much unrivalled in the UK capital. It’s also old-school British till the day’s long – there’s everything from the honey-esque Royal Blend (originally produced for King Edward VII) to the Gin & Tonic Tea and from Chocolate Violet Tea to Pistachio & clotted Cream Tea. You name it; this place has it.