Where to drink speciality tea in London - part 101 Jun 2015
With once fiercely independent cafes becoming mini-chains and new roasters opening every month, London’s speciality coffee industry is currently in full swing. ‘Coffee fatigue’ may still be some time off, but as soon as it settles in, the capital’s speciality tea scene is ready to pounce. In reality, of course, the two industries work well together, so much so, that London’s best teas can be difficult to find outside of London’s best coffee shops. With this in mind, Derek Lamberton and Phil Wain have set off to find which London cafes take their tea as seriously as their coffee. Here is part one of our ongoing guide. Tweet us at @coffeelondon to let us know what we’ve missed.
(Part 2 now live)
Considering that Lyle’s inhabits an original loading (or is it an unloading?) bay in Shoreditch’s Tea Building, they’d have missed a trick if they weren’t serving top tier teas. But James ‘coffee/tea’ Low takes the same curative approach to tea that he employs with his always remarkable coffee collection. He switches the teas seasonally based on a flood of samples received from leading tea merchants across Europe. Of his current selection, the stand outs were a Darjeeling second flush from the Makaibari estates, imported by Lalani & Co and a Silver Tip White tea imported by Rare Tea and Co. Customers are welcome to sit and enjoy (and compare) multiple infusions (measured refills of water).
Prufrock is known as a specialty coffee mecca but it’s also a wonderful destination for tea. Staff collaborate with highly regarded Postcard Teas and take great pride in their tea preparation in terms of dosing, temperature, time and taste. Three infusions are offered for each cup – each often distinct in flavour. Heidi Beeton and her team achieve excellent results with a smaller selection of carefully chosen teas. When we visited a first flush Spring Darjeeling was quite stunning – with distinct notes of passion fruit.
Curators Coffee Gallery near Oxford Circus works closely with specialists Lalani & Co on their tea offering. Small batch teas are dosed and brewed to bring out the best of their characteristics using timers and multiple infusions. Enjoy a 40 degree Sen Cha, Oolong, Assam or highest grade Matcha tea or Matcha latte. Curators take their tea very seriously and Lalani & Co particularly recommends them (along with Saint Espresso and Story) as a great place to enjoy their tea and they hold regular tea tastings and customer and staff training at Curators. Note: Teas and tea-making equipment are also available for retail.
Timberyard have a wide selection of teas available from Cardiff-based Waterloo Teas at both their popular Old Street and Seven Dials cafes. Timberyard’s tea service is unique as it is good. The tea arrives at your table on a wooden board in a stumpy teapot along with a cup, strainer, drinking water, and stopwatch timer set to the ideal time to drink. The teas are dosed and brewed according to Waterloo’s recommendations and Waterloo regularly train Timberyard staff. The White Peach Blossom tea is highly recommended.
More recommendations to come soon. Let us know where else we should go for tea in London: @coffeelondon.