Saturday, 10 October 2009

Two Tea Tipples in Twondon Town

Michelle and I decided to have a good look at various health and tea shops in London to see what sort of environments were available with a mind towards setting up our own place. We trawled around various hideous Chinese medicine shops in Soho resplendent with various 'herbal viagra' posters and untidy shop interiors. Ghastly.

Hungry and thirsty we headed off to Yauatcha, a restaurant that mainly serves dimsum and a large selection of teas, particularly Oolongs. It's an impressive looking place with a mouth watering display of deserts and must be popular as we had to be shoe horned the schedule as we had not previously booked. We were given twenty or so minutes to drink our tea.

I chose a 'tuo cha' pu erh from 'Yunnan' and selected an Ali Shan oolong for Michelle. Both teas came pre steeped in pots. It was a generous pot of tea but as it was pre prepped each cup was all rather the same, only cooler.

Michelle chose a pretty desert from the selection to quell her sweet tooth. Sounds ok so far? Actually no. The service was rather impersonal, the seats uncomfortable and almost under the noses of the table adjacent. It just seemed to be another 'trendy' Soho eatery for suit types looking to do whatever it is Soho people do. We felt out of place, uneasy, clostrophobic, rushed and we left as soon as we could. The energy of the place was just awful and quite the opposite from what I was expecting.

Huge disappointment.

Next stop, Teasmith in London's E1 district... read on..

I was a west London boy and crossing the City over to the east just makes me feel queasy. But amidst the slightly run down vibe of the wild east is a true tea oasis, Teasmith.

Inside the charm of Teasmith's is apparent, it's a product of a couples love and hard work. Instead of a single pot pre steeped for you, we had a nice chat about what tea I wanted, had a peak at the bings provided by Nada (who else!) and it was expertly poured by the owner again and again and again.

Several infusions later I started to feel a little sorry as Nada's Yiwu was just getting nicer and nicer and poor old Teasmith were only being paid the once. Michelle's Bi Luo Chun was also just superb, I could barely pry the pot away from her as she was enchanted with the smell. What a great place for tea...  I just can't say enough about Teasmiths, I am just so impressed.

We left Teasmith after an hour or two, I have no idea exactly how long we spent there, fully refreshed and becalmed by the tea and the experience. I can't wait to return for some tea tasting or any reason really..

The short story is.. if you are a yuppy and want to look cool, go to Yauatcha.

..if you have a soul and want to enjoy great tea amongst tea lovers, head to Teasmith.

You decide.

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