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. (more…)
“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?’. (more…)
Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the British Isles from 1830-34. Famous for having a type of tea named after him, he lived at number 13 Carlton House Terrace.
Next door, at number 12, the Institute of Contemporary Arts has a lovely café, that serves a good cup of tea all these years later.
The ICA was formed in the 1940’s by Surrealist Roland Penrose and anarchist Herbert Read as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals. It has been in the Mall since the sixties.
Today, there is an art house cinema, gallery space, and art bookshop. They stock an impressive range of art theory books with zippy titles (more…)
Prufrock coffee has a reputation bar none in the world of the coffee geek. I hope they don’t mind being referred to as geeks as they are charming and friendly folk, but the lengths they go to make a brew are impressive.
No flicking the kettle on here, this is a veritable laboratory of caffeine. Chrome contraptions to weigh, time, filter and take temperature. (more…)
The extraordinary redevelopment of the area around Kings Cross Station continues apace. Since the Eurostar terminal arrived at St Pancras in 2007, the area has seen the opening of King’s Place – a canal side arts centre and home of the Guardian newspaper; the restoration and reopening of Sir Gilbert Scott’s much-loved Midland Hotel and an impressive new roof at Kings Cross Station.
Recently Granary Square, an expansive cobbled space north of Regents Canal, has opened, making apparent the scale of the final project (it even has a new postcode, NC1).
Formerly a canal basin where barges unloaded their goods, (more…)
Heddon Street loops off Regent Street towards the Piccadilly end. In 1973 Ziggy Stardust landed with his Spiders from Mars at no. 23 and changed the world. An old red telephone box, featured the back of the album cover, sits in the far corner, past a bar where everything, including the glasses is made of ice (useless for tea cup!).
Forty years on, Heddon Street has been branded, a bit clumsily, as ‘Food Quarter.’ There is a good choice of restaurants, many with tables outside. It is car-free so has a pleasant, courtyard feel.
Momo restaurant, with its impressive Moroccan inspired interior, has been (more…)
London has had a pretty good summer, with the Queen doing us proud, and the running thing.
We have even had rubbish weather – how else to make idle conversation? – rain to sunshine in a matter of minutes.
I experienced this when, walking along Wigmore street, I stepped into Comptoir Libanais to escape a shower and enjoy a cup of tea.
The interior was bright and joyous in contrast to the grey skies outside. A welcome bit of North African vibrancy. The shelves are packed to the ceiling with tins of harissa, huge jars of pickles, packets of tea, henna, olives, chillies, wine, rose-water and coffee.
You can buy colourful baskets and (more…)
Somerset House, originally a Tudor Palace, has been home to Elizabeth I, the Navy and the Royal Academy of Art. It has seen routs and masquerades, and has fallen into ruin – ‘…the haunt of spectres…magicians and murderers.’
The free tour gives an excellent overview of it’s extraordinary history.
It was fascinating to visit the lightwells – underground alleyways visible from the courtyard – and the ‘Dead Room’, with it’s Catholic gravestones.
Easy to see why Somerset House is used by film crews as an atmospheric London location.
The Courtyard is a fantastic space, unique in London. The East wing is home to an eatery, and very fine place for a cup of tea. (more…)
**UPDATE MARCH 2014: Salt is sadly, now closed. It was a great little place; I wish the fellas that ran it all good luck and hope they will let Tea at Three know if they open up elsewhere.
Great Queen Street in Covent Garden, is dominated on one side by the massive Art Deco edifice of Freemasons Hall. In its shadow is a row where at no.31, William Blake, London’s great poet and mystic, learned his trade as an engraver. Today it is home to Stephen Jones, hat maker and some intriguing looking Freemason’s outlets.
Salt is nestled in between. This ‘Espresso, Lunch and Tea Bar’ prides itself on bakery, and, as I discover, the tea is pretty special too.
They have an excellent choice of brews with the optimum temperature and steeping time noted on the menu.