To a Tea, Farringdon Street

To a Tea, Farringdon Road
Monkey-picked Oolong
To a Tea
Standing at busy Ludgate Circus, with St Paul’s Cathedral behind you, it would be hard to imagine that you are just steps away from a pot of Monkey-picked Oolong plus a choice of some thirty-odd types of tea.

However behind a somewhat faceless office block facade, a few steps to your right is To A Tea.

Pushing open the doors, one expects to step into the lobby of some faceless company.

It is a pleasant surprise therefore to find this rather nice tea room, with an excellent choice of brews.

The interior is fresh and clean, Continue reading

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The Restaurant St Paul’s Cathedral

Restaurant St Pauls cathedral
Darjeeling
St Pauls Cathedral
Wandering through the City after seeing the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London, I thought I saw an emerald on the pavement. It was just a bit of broken glass, but such is the effect of the treasures on show.

I recommend the exhibition to anyone interested in London – layers of history are peeled away to a magical place just beneath our feet. Magnifying glasses are provided, and I particularly enjoyed studying the amazing detail in the accompanying paintings.

I later came to St Paul’s Cathedral and decided to stop for tea.
The crypt has a self-service cafe, where Continue reading

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W Café, Waterstones, Piccadilly

Waterstones Cafe Piccadilly
English Breakfast
W Cafe
Waterstones Piccadilly
After visiting the Royal Academy to see the (excellent) Daumier exhibition, I was naturally in need of tea.

The main restaurant at the RA is lovely, but a bit formal for a quick cuppa.

There is a smaller café, but it is squashed in a corridor by the lift. Also they serve tea in a paper cup – which is not what I was after.

So I stepped into Piccadilly to search for a nice cup of tea, preferably in a china cup.

A turn up for the books(hops) (sorry for weak pun), was the Continue reading

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Kusmi Tea, Marylebone High Street

White Tea Kusmi Tea Marylebone High Street
White Tea
Kusmi Tea
Marylebone High Street
Tea makes a wonderful gift, and Kusmi Teas exotic and colourful packaging means you don’t even need wrapping paper.

With its fashionable Gallic style and visual flair, I had assumed that Kusmi was originally a Parisian company.

But as I discovered on their website, Kusmi was started 140 years ago by a P.M. Kousmichoff, the son of a Russian peasant. There is a London connection as his son came here in 1907 to hone his tea blending skills.

After a long history involving escaping from the Reds and surviving being run by arty-types, Kusmi now have a branch on Marylebone High Street. Continue reading

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Kahve Dünyası, Piccadilly

Kahve dunyasi London
Jasmine Green Tea
Kahve Dünyasi
Piccadilly
While enjoying a lovely pot of Jasmine Green tea in the wonderful Kavye Dunyasi, Turkish cafe on Piccadilly I felt an odd sense of déjå vu.

I assumed it was because I had visited last year on the recommendation of a friend.

On that occasion, I sat down and ordered cuppa, but was told they didn’t do tea (?!). Naturally I made my excuses and went elsewhere…

They must have had a lot of folk suddenly remembering they had to be elsewhere, as they now serve a range of tea; Peppermint, Chamomile, White, English breakfast etc.. Continue reading

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Afternoon Tea, Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane

Afternoon Tea Mayfair
Afternoon Tea
Grosvenor House Hotel
Park Lane
I confess I am not a huge cake-lover; my idea of a tea-time snack is a nice bit of Marmite on toast – or that is what I tell myself.

I do enjoy a tea party however, and myself and good friend Ms P traditionally have a posh tea in London as a birthday treat.

So when I was invited* by the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane to sample their afternoon tea I gladly accepted.

On arrival at the Park Rooms, we were warmly greeted and shown to a table by a picture window, overlooking Park Lane (especially enjoyable towards evening when people were getting out of limos Continue reading

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HR Higgins, Duke Street, Mayfair

HR Higgins Tea Mayfair London
Chamomile Tea
HR Higgins
Mayfair
Someone should make a film about HR Higgins Coffee Man esq.. The tale of how he started his coffee roasting enterprise in wartime London is heroic stuff.

Evading incendiary bombs, showing cunning in getting a licence to trade; featuring characters with one leg, and help along the way from Misses Fox and Jenkins of South Moulton Street – whose cake kitchen saved the day – makes for a fascinating and jaunty read.

I imagine Trevor Howard in the leading role…but I’m getting carried away. Continue reading

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Gail’s Bakery, Wardour Street

Gails Tea in London
Jasmine Silver Needle
Gails Bakery
With the weekend upon us, a quick mention for Gail’s Bakery, Soho in appreciation of them opening till 10pm in the evening and 7pm on Sunday.

Most cafés close at 6pm, so this is a great if you are in the West End in the evening and, instead of a crowded pub, what you really fancy is a nice cup of tea.

Gail’s has a smart, clean urban interior. White-washed brick work, herringbone parquet floor, white lacquer counter-top contrast with pillar-box red stools and teapots. Set on a corner, there is seating around a large table at the rear and adjacent to the high windows.

There is a really good range of Continue reading

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Garden Café, Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair

Benugo Garden Cafe
Mint Tea
Garden Café
Mayfair
London can sometimes surprise you in the most delightful ways. Last week I took a trip to a secret garden in Hampstead. I had never visited Lord Lever’s surreally potty pergola (scroll down for pics). It was well worth the bus fare.

Today I find myself elevated above a square in Mayfair, taking tea in an Italianate garden on top of a baroque-style electricity sub-station.

The Garden Café in Brown Hart Gardens is of a minimal design, allowing you to fully appreciate the somewhat eccentric surroundings.

With sunshine pouring in from the large windows, Continue reading

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Urban Tea Rooms, Kingley Street

Urban Tea Rooms Kingley Street London
Cornish Peppermint Tea
Urban Tea Rooms
Kingley Street

“Hot town summer in the city back if my neck feeling dirty and gritty…” Lovin’ Spoonful

Summertime in central London. It’s full of folk, it’s noisy, it’s sweaty, it’s chaotic and you can’t breath…but it is a great time of year for walking.
The sunshine, clear light and blue sky enhances the simple pleasure of looking up at buildings – now in vivid colour instead of the more usual monochrome.
Summer is also the perfect time for tea. For us Brits it is also when we traditionally ponder the eternal conundrum ‘does tea cool you down as much as a cold drink?’. Continue reading

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Tate Britain Café, Millbank

Tate Britain cafe London
Darjeeling
Tate Britain Café
The café at Tate Britain is having a refit. Meanwhile, there are two temporary tea places, each an improvement on the former facilities.

I entered the gallery from Atterbury Street, which is interesting as you can still see damage to the side of the Tate’s wall from WW2 bombing raids.

I was excited to find David Tremlett’s Drawing for Free Thinking on the staircase. I had first seen his work in July while enjoying green tea at Fernandez and Wells splendid rooms in Somerset House.

The Manton Café is a light-filled space at the rear of the Duveen Gallery. Large windows, Continue reading

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Where to Buy Tea in London: Whittard of Chelsea

Whittard of Chelsea
Whittard of Chelsea
Walter Whittard started selling tea from his Fleet Street shop in 1886. It became Whittard of Chelsea in the 1940′s when the company relocated after losing premises in the Blitz.

There are branches of Whittard dotted around the West End which I confess, I rarely visit, assuming they mainly sold souvenir tea.

Also, I once looked at a teapot on their website, and it followed me around for days – a bit annoying.

The Piazza at Covent Garden is another place I tend not to venture, so avoiding the fire-eaters and Continue reading

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National Dining Rooms, Trafalgar Square

National Gallery cafe, tea
Ceylon Orange Pekoe
National Dining Rooms
National Gallery
The National Gallery started modestly in 1824 when 38 paintings – the collection of banker John Julius Angerstein – were bought for the nation for £57,000.

Originally housed at Mr Angerstein’s home at 100 Pall Mall, it was considered an embarrassment when compared with other national collections. Particularly the Louvre in Paris.

Not wanting the French to get one over on us, Trafalgar Square was chosen as the site of a new building which opened in 1838*.

The National Gallery now has over 2300 paintings. It is without doubt one of the finest galleries on the planet, containing some of the highlights of western art Continue reading

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Notes Music & Coffee, St Martin’s Lane

Green Oolong, Notes Trafalgar Square
Green Oolong
Notes Music & Coffee
St Martin’s Lane
Notes Music & Coffee is one of those great places that you walk in and wonder why you have never been here before.

Except this case, I know why – I have tried to visit for tea a few times, but it’s always full.

This time I was with a friend, and even though it was busy, we managed to find seats at the back on long shared oak tables.

The space is pleasant with high ceilings and large arched mirrors, which make it feel larger than it is.

The tea is excellent. I had a green oolong, but was also impressed with Continue reading

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