From bubble tea to lovely loose-leaf, Chinatown is the home to teas galore and the best place to visit this National Tea Day.
For those who are partial to a good cuppa, circle 21st April in your diary now, for it is National Tea Day. Tea is probably the UK’s signature drink; a national treasure of a beverage, we knock back 165 million cups a day of our beloved leafy brew. Though, of course, its origins hail from the Far East. It was the East India Company that started importing it to Britain in 1600, soon followed by swift competition that tried to race it to our shores as quickly as possible from China in super-fast sailing ships called clippers.
Tea’s evolution has come a long way from your basic builders brew and there’s no better place in London to experience it in its many quirky guises than in Chinatown.
Why not take a visit to one of these tea emporiums this National Tea Day and snap your Chinatown tea tour on Instagram? Don’t forget to use the #NationalTeaDay hashtag and be sure to share with our @ChinatownLondon Instagram account.
We know the future of tea: and it’s bubble shaped. One of Taiwan’s coolest culinary exports is bubble tea and you can slurp it till your heart’s content in Chinatown. Happy Lemon on Newport Court serve theirs with a uniquely sweet-but-sour house topping, rock salted cheese. A velvety, creamy treat that floats on top of your tea containing pop-able black pearl, lychee jelly or taro balls.
A couple of doors along, Cuppacha’s bubble tea is somewhat more traditional but ultra customisable. Choose from black tea, plum green tea or winter melon, adjust your sugar and ice levels, and then select your funky bubble type and topping. In an East meets West fusion you can have an Oreo or Cadbury topping.
Chatime is one of the world’s biggest bubble tea outlets with over 1000 stores across the Far East. Their Gerrard Street outpost brings the best of Taiwan to London. Tea alchemy underpins Chatime’s thinking – from the tea brewing methodology to the perfect ice-to-cup ratio, every nuance has been considered. Even their bubble tea tapioca balls are freshly made, on-site, each day too.
For a more old-world, authentic tea experience look no further than Beijing Tong Ren Tang on Shaftesbury Avenue. The grand and rather regal-looking store dispenses a pharmacopeia of Chinese herbs and medicine along with exceptionally high quality imported loose-leaf teas. Think: Rosebud, Fujian Black and Oolong types. Beijing Tong Ren Tang also sell gorgeous, high-end Chinese tea-ware accoutrements to help you up your cha-game at home.
Finally, if you fancy tea of a more edible variety(yes you read that right) visit Shaftesbury Avenue’s The ShanState. Specialising in Burmese cuisine the restaurant serves up its national dish, laphet, which is a spicy salad made from fermented tealeaves, dried prawn, tomato, peanuts and garlic. It’s hot, sour and packs a deliciously pungent punch. If eating tea doesn’t sound like your thing, The ShanState are also Europe’s first ever Myanmar tea supplier to pop down to discover something new.
Happy National Tea Day!
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