Every Brit will tell you that a good cup of tea will solve all your problems. Relationship break-up? Pop the kettle on. Feeling under the weather? Ditto. It's not just the lows, however, that this treasured beverage is good for - it's the highs, too. From a shared moment with a loved one to taking a break with a colleague, the universal beauty of a brew is that it unites different cultures, ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.
It's 2022. And so tea goes far beyond Earl Grey. Keen to explore the new flavours of the city, we took it upon ourselves to find the addresses that are shaking up the cup. Tag along with us to find the best bubble teas, where to make your own matcha and the townhouse with the world's largest tea collection.
Britain's best-loved beverage: five top tea spots in the
Xing Fu Tang, Soho
Best for: bubble tea
We'll be the first to admit that when it came to the whole bubble tea trend, we took some convincing, but after learning of its immunity-boosting benefits we found ourselves at the front of the line. The Asian beverage, which fuses flavoured Taiwanese milk with tiny balls of tapioca, has become more popular than the famous cream-topped Frappuccino was in 2015. Of over 50 different specialist stores dotted across the capital, Soho's Xing Fu Tang remains our favourite. We love it partly for its no-fuss, in-and-out ethos, but largely for its menu, which puts a contemporary spin on cult classics. Think strawberries and cream, scented jasmine with honeycomb, and matcha boba milk. Those who like their bubbles at breakfast should note that this spot doesn't open till midday.
29 Frith St, W1D 5LG
Lyaness, South Bank
Best for: spirited afternoon tea
Just when we thought we couldn't get any more obsessed with Lyaness, we stumbled across their Spirited Tea sessions. Situated on the ground floor of the South Bank's sleek Sea Containers London, this seductive space benefits from an enormous marble bar and electric-blue banquette seating. Served on weekends between 12pm and 5pm, the new offering includes the full tea selection, three paired cocktails, cakes and savouries, for £55pp. Boozless tea and champagne tea sessions are available, too. We're yet to see the addition of a tea-infused cocktail, but the rose-petal tea alongside a classic mojito works a treat - trust us.
20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
My Cup of Tea, Soho
Best for: herbal-blending workshops
Workshops that teach us how to make our own herbal blend? Sign us up, pronto. Open since 2014, My Cup of Tea's flagship store can be found on Soho's Denman Place. An airy space that pays homage to the craft behind tea, highlights include a tasting counter, handcrafted teaware and a vast selection of tea and tisanes. There are five different class types on offer, ranging from Japanese green tea tutorials to matcha workshops. We're bookmarking the herbal-blending option, during which participants learn about sourcing, harvesting and processing herbs, before experimenting and designing a blend to take home.
5 Denman Pl, W1D 7AH
The Teahouse, Richmond
Best for: traditional afternoon tea
No tea round-up would be complete without tucking into a traditional afternoon-tea menu, and we can think of no better place to butter our scones than at Petersham Nurseries' The Teahouse, where homemade cakes, whole-leaf teas and freshly ground coffee are served in a rustic greenhouse. Settle down at a copper-topped table, surrounded by overgrown plants, on a chair draped in a cosy blanket, to feast on delicacies such as mini beef bagels with pickled cucumber, smoked trout and watercress crostini and wild mushroom sandwiches. The sweet stuff doesn't disappoint, either. Standouts include the pecan and chocolate tarts, clementine and pomegranate cake and rhubarb-ginger scones. There's a vegetarian menu, too.
Off Church Ln, Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10 7AB
Mariage Frères, Covent Garden
Best for: exotic flavours
Located in the heart of Covent Garden, this five-storey tea emporium flaunts the world's largest tea collection. With over 1,000 varieties from 36 different countries, Mariage Frères can only be described as a tea-lover's paradise. Inside the listed Georgian townhouse, a tea room, restaurant, boutique and museum are the backdrop to daily tasting tours. Floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with colourful teapots, lantern lights, all-wooden floors and gold detailing make the interiors worth visiting for alone. Struggling to settle on a flavour? Marco Polo, a rich blend of berries fused with bold black tea, gets our vote.
38 King St, WC2E 8JS