Around The World In 15 Tea Shops

When one spends 4 months travelling the world with the majority of that time spent in beautiful (but freezing cold) winter cities, one must drink a hell of a lot of tea to keep warm!

While it might not be hard to find somewhere to get yourself a cup of tea (or coffee, for that matter) – hello, Starbucks – a true tea shop is a thing of beauty. It’s always a lot more calm and pleasant than a chain hurry-up-and-caffeinate-me outlet, the customers are much happier to slow down/stop completely, and in winter especially, there’s no where better to cosy up for a timeout from the cold. For me, personally, the tea shop signifies a retreat and sanctuary; I’m an anxiety-afflicted introvert, and I like nothing more than tucking myself away into a corner with a pot of tea and a book or my journal. So having travelled non-stop for 4 months, the tea shop stops were like a signal for my mind to calm down and decompress.

Needless to say, there were many tea shops visited while we were away, but some stood out more than others; here’s a little compendium of my favourites 🙂 Oh, and not all of them are your traditional sit down and order shops – I’ve listed a few where you can buy the tea without sitting down to drink a pot first.

1. Clement & Pekoe, Dublin, Ireland

50 South William St, Dublin
http://clementandpekoe.com/
Visit: Creaky old wooden floor boards, lovely helpful staff who are more than happy to recommend a brew, delicious scones with jam, and that general warm, cosy, homely feel you want from your Irish tea shops!
Variety: 50+ teas to choose from.
Try: Assam ‘Corramore’ – a 2nd flush Assam that makes for an indulgent morning cuppa.

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2. Twinings, London, UK
216 The Strand, London
https://www.twinings.co.uk/about-twinings/flagship-store-london-216-strand
Visit: London’s oldest tea shop and Twinings flag shop store, the narrow walls are lined with bag and loose leaf teas from the Twinings range. You can purchase boxes of tea, or just single tea bags if you want to sample a few flavours. And as a bonus, there’s a teeny tiny ‘museum’ at the back of the store!
Varieties: just about everything Twinings makes… which is a LOT of variety!
Try: The salted caramel green tea… wow…

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3. Nakajima No Ochaya Tea House, Tokyo, Japan
Inside the Hama-rikyu Gardens, Tokyo
http://teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/hama-rikyu/outline.html
Visit: This beautiful tea house sits overlooking the water in the middle of the gardens, and they offer a simple tea ceremony; you can have your matcha with or without a typical Japanese sweet, and you can buy some to take home with you.
Varieties: Just matcha.
Try: What you’re given!

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4. Fortnum & Mason, London, UK

181 Piccadilly, London
Visit: When in London… I couldn’t leave without taking high tea, and the Fortnum & Mason Tea Salon was perfect. Their tea salon menu is quite extensive, and most of their teas are available to purchase after you’ve stuffed yourself full of finger sandwiches and scones. Excellent quality tea, and exceptional service.
Variety: 50+ teas.
Try: I loved the Royal Blend for a good, rich black tea – yup, took a bag of that home, too.
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5. Alice’s Tea Cup, New York City, USA
Chapter I: 102 West 73rd Street, NYC | Chapter II: 156 East 64th Street, NYC | Chapter III: 220 East 81st Street, NYC
https://alicesteacup.com/
Visit: An Alice in Wonderland themed cafe, they have the a deliciously extravagant variety of sweets served up by the friendliest staff to go with the brilliant tea collection. And you can buy after you’ve tried, by weight.
Varieties: 50+ to choose from.
Try: Mauritius black tea with a hint of vanilla, and of course their signature Alice’s tea, a blend of Indian black and Japanese green teas with rose petals and berries.

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6. Le Valentin, Paris, France
30 Passage Jouffroy, Paris
http://www.restaurantparis9.fr
Visit: Tucked away in one of the city’s undercover walking streets, this little bakery is one of the best places to do tea in Paris. The selection of cakes kind of necessitates more than one visit, as does the tea list. And if you’re not sure what to pair with your cake, just ask one of the lovely staff for a recommendation.
Varieties: I can’t find a menu online for a definitive number, but there were a few dozen from what I remember.
Try: A classic Earl Grey pairs up pretty well with a lot of the sweets.

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7. Ippodo Tea, Tokyo, Japan 

Kokusai Bldg. 1F 3-1-1 Marunouchi Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Visit: The Tokyo store has the added bonus of  tea room on site, so you can sample some of the teas before you shop. It’s all quite a hands-on experience, where you’ll be taught the intricacies of brewing the tea youve chosen, so you’ll know exactly what to do at home.
Varieties: 30+ green teas.
Try: Mantoku Gyukuro green tea.

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8. Sir Harly’s Tea Shop, Vienna, Austria
Mariahilfer Str. 45, Vienna
https://www.harly-tea.at/shop/
Visit: We actually didn’t get the chance to visit the tea house itself, because we found them set up at one of the Christmas market we went to! They had a pretty impressive range for a market stall, though, so I imagine there’d have been even more to choose from in store. You can order online, though, which is nifty!
Varieties: Around 200 teas.
Try: I went with the Bourbon Orange Christmas Tea, because it reminded me so much of the mulled wine we drank at the markets!

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9. The Spice & Tea Exchange, New Orleans, USA
521 St. Louis Ave, New Orleans
https://www.spiceandtea.com
Visit: This isn’t unique to New Orleans – there actually heaps of stores scattered around the United States. It just so happens this is where I first found them! Along with tea, they also have a heap of different herbs, salts, spices, salts, seasonings and oils – it’s a gourmand’s heaven. The New Orleans store itself is cosy and welcoming, with very knowledgeable staff for when you just can’t choose.
Varieties: 50+ teas.
Try: Coconut oolong.

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10. McNulty’s Tea & Coffee, New York City, USA

109 Christopher St, New York
Visit: This is one of the most perfect little tea shops you’ll ever find. Hidden in plain sight, it’s like stepping back in time. It’s organised chaos as you navigate through cardboard boxes on the floor and dozens of glass jars on the benches. And the smell is absolutely extraordinary! And if, like me, it all gets too much and too overwhelming, help is on hand to help you pick the perfect leaves.
Varieties: Hundreds!
Try: I love the Golden Assam Khongea Estate for a rich black tea.

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11. Da Rosa, Paris, France
62, Rue de Seine, Paris

Visit: We found this place utterly by chance, when one afternoon in Saint Germain, we were getting tired and needed a rest stop. We turned down a street and saw this place, and it looked too warm and cosy to pass up on a frosty winter’s day! Mr José Da Rosa’s establishment is a gourmet grocer/bar/tea house where he offers teas of his own creation (after being certified as a tea master). And if tea isn’t your thing, there’s always beer and wine!
Varieties: A dozen or so (for now).
Try: No.13 mint & green tea.

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12. Wall & Keogh, Dublin, Ireland
45 Richmond St. South Portobello
Visit: This was the sort of place that would be my regular if I lived in the area – a gorgeous little nook downstairs has space to get comfy and read, write, drink and catch up withy friends. Upstairs hosts a tiny café so you can be fed as well as watered, and the staff were some of the nicest and most knowledgeable I’ve ever come across.
Variety: 150+ blends
Try: I took some coconut milk mate and some milk oolong – both phenomenal!

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And, because this wasn’t the first big trip we’ve taken that involved many litres of tea, here are a few more tea shops worth checking out that we’ve found on our travels…
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Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a weekend in Beechworth part 1 (where to stay, eat & shop)

It’s a bit of a catch-22 when you finally realise that you’ve found what you want to do with your life, but it’s not something you can do so easily; I know I want to travel, but I can’t exactly drop what I’m doing and pack my bags and live on the road indefinitely. That costs money, and I need to work to earn enough of it to hit the road again! That said, just because I can’t give my passport a workout every month, doesn’t mean I can’t still explore and take adventures and appreciate what I’ve got in my own backyard; I am SO lucky to live in Melbourne, where , within a few hours, I can be at the beach, on snowy mountains, or in beautiful forests. Victoria is an incredible unique place, where we literally have it all – we just need to get in the car and actually look for it!

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So, over the next few months, I’m going to start to practice what I preach, and cultivate a little more adventure at home as well as abroad – why the hell not?! I’m going to start taking more mini-breaks, more weekends or even just days away, more road trips and local adventures, because “adventure” shouldn’t just be reserved for “vacations.” Living authentically, for me, means have adventures every day, and that’s something I can control.  And on that note, without further ado, let me take you to stop #1: Beechworth 🙂

Distance from Melbourne CBD:
It’ll only take around 3 hours to drive to Beechworth from the CBD – depending on which direction you’re coming from, just get yourself onto the Hume Freeway, and keep going until you hit Beechworth! It’s a really, really easy drive!

 

Stay here:
Beechworth on Bridge

38 Bridge Rd, Beechworth
http://www.beechworthonbridge.com.au/

I came across Beechworth on Bridge through a quick Trip Advisor search for accommodation in Beechworth. Being that the race was on, a lot of accommodation was booked early, and this was one that looked nice, but was still reasonably priced. We had two nights accommodation (Saturday and Sunday) for only $250, and it was a hundred times nicer that I could have possibly expected! Brenda runs a tight ship, and is one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting on my travels 🙂 She welcomed us with a big smile and open arms, and made us feel right at home from the moment we walked through the front door. She gave us menus for breakfast (complimentary and home cooked), invited us to help ourselves to the enormous DVD collection should we need a relaxing evening in instead of heading out, and was happy to help us with anything else we may have needed. She walked us over to our gorgeously appointed room, and it honestly felt just like home (only, a little bit nicer!) – it was the perfect place to spend the weekend!

Features:
* In-ground, solar heated pool
* Rooms have new HD/LCD tvs
* New super quiet Fujitsu AC Split Systems
* Kitchenette with fridge, toaster, microwave, crockery and cutlery
* Tea, coffee, fresh milk and bikkies
* Expresso Coffee Machines
* Electric Blankets and cosy doonas
* Triple sheeted beds to ensure maximum cleanliness with NO recycled bedcovers
* Hair dryers, irons, ironing boards and fresh towels and high quality toiletries
* Beautiful gardens with BBQs on site

Inclusions:
* Complimentary breakfast which you can choose from the a-la-carte menu
* Free WiFi
* Complimentary DVD hire
* Free car parking
* Guest laundry is available at no additional cost

Oh, and Brenda makes some AMAZING pancakes!!! Highly recommend these!

 

Eat here:

Bridge Road Brewers
Old Coach House 50 Ford St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://bridgeroadbrewers.com.au/

Visit for: the beer (apparently) and the pizza. They cater really well for gluten free (gluten free pizza bases, which are actually really good, as well as GF beer and cider), and be sure to check out the specials board, which is where we found the pork knuckle – absolutely phenomenally good!! Really friendly service, gorgeous set up, just be sure to make a reservation because they get super busy!

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Moments & Memories Tea Room
34 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.moments-memories-tearoom.com.au/

Visit for: The devonshire tea with an insane amount of teas to choose from to go with it. Yes, it’s pink and frilly and girly and just SO pink. Not at all my style, but don’t be fooled; the service is as sweet and sassy as you’ll find in town, and the scones are good enough to brave the bright pink interior for! With around 60 different teas to choose from (and yes, you can take them home with you if you like them enough!), it’s a little tough to select just the one to go with your scones (again, gluten free particularly well catered for with a gluten free Devonshire Tea option also on offer, which I also sampled, and can very much vouch for!), but I ended up going with the Devonshire Cream tea – top choice, and I bought a bag to take home with me! You can also find a gorgeous selection of award winning jams and preserves, tea cups and saucers, cook books and other little tea-related trinkets that are waiting to be taken home, too. Perfect way to spend a winter afternoon 🙂

 

Beechworth Bakery
27 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthbakery.com.au/

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Visit for: A sausage roll and a pie – I like the steak pie and husband like the chicken and leek, but let’s be honest – they’re all good!! The sweets are also amazing, with the beesting being (a sweet, “melt-in-your-mouth” dough bun filled with apricot jam and creamy custard, and topped with toffeed almonds – delicious!) their most popular export, and for good reason! I’m also a huge fan of the flourless orange almond cake, and the snickerdoodles (custard filled pastry tart, topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries) – and don’t forget a bottomless cup of tea to go with these treats! This bakery is the original and the best; we used to travel to Bright most years to spend the Easter holidays when we were kids, and I have the best memories of stopping in here for lunch at the bakery on the way to Bright! While they’ve now expanded to locations in Albury, Bendigo, Healesville, Ballarat & Echuca, this one is the original, and still the best 🙂 Don’t be put off by the long lines – they move pretty fast.

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The Beechworth Sweet Co.
7 Camp St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthsweetco.com.au/

IMG_7114Visit for: the home made fudge and other home made chocolate and lollies. They’re all delicious – it’s kind of impossible to choose, but the salted caramel fudge is a good place to start! This is another place I have very fond childhood memories of, with many holidays spent eating my weight in musks and chocolate drops from this place 🙂 Their hand made fudge is pretty popular, and they have heaps of amazing flavours to choose from, as well as some pretty delicious peanut brittle. They’ve also got fantastic individual chocolates like the ones below – a little more pricey, but worth it for a special treat!

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Shop here:

Beechworth Honey
31 Ford St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.beechworthhoney.com.au/

No doubt you’ve seen this stuff sold in your local supermarket – where better to buy it from that straight from the source?! If you like your honey, this is a must-visit shop in Beechworth, where you can stock up on all things honey; from hand creams and soaps, to honey mead and multiple ranges of honey (everything from the classic original stuff to some fancier orange blossom or creamy honey, fig and ginger), it’s all there.

 

 

Quercus Community Bookshop
Cnr Ford & Church Sts, Beechworth, Victoria

A little heaven of used books, with some very friendly and knowledgeable service to boot 🙂 This is the place to go if you want to browse and/or talk books, with a massive range with new arrivals popping in all the time. If there’s something you’re after and can’t find, just ask – help is at hand and ready to go! With prices starting at only $1.00, you’re bound to walk away with at least a few books.

 

 

Beechworth Antiques
17 Loch St, Beechworth, Victoria
http://www.indigoshire.vic.gov.au/Services/Business_Directory/Beechworth_Antiques

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There are a few little antique shops in town, but this one was particularly beautiful – heads up though, they are genuine antiques and as such, the prices are more for serious shoppers and collectors. There are a few cheaper treasures in there, though, and definitely well worth a look around.

 

 

So, there’s part 1 of my guide to a weekend Beechworth visit, hope you’re enjoying your virtual break so far and have maybe seen something to motivate you to email Brenda and book a room for a weekend away of your own! I’ll be back later in the week with part 2 (what to see and do while you’re there), so I hope you’ll be back for that 🙂 In the mean time, back to reality and back to work for me this morning, already looking forward to the next adventure!

High tea at The Waiting Room (Crown Towers), Melbourne

The Waiting Room in Crown Towers
8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Melbourne
https://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/bars-nightclubs/bars/the-waiting-room

 

I’m guess I’m one of the lucky ones; my mother in-law isn’t horrible. Not only is she not horrible, she’s actually a really great lady, who I get along with very well. She already has two daughters (another two lovely ladies who I adore), but for the last decade has still always gone out of her way to make me feel like part of the family; I’ll be eternally grateful for that  : )  So, keeping in mind all of the horror stories I hear about other women and their awful, meddling, nasty mother-in-laws, I was really excited when mine decided that we should do high tea together!

We decided to go to Crown Casino for our high tea afternoon; after calling up to make a reservation and being told that the Conservatory was fully booked, I was informed that The Waiting Room was still available. I’d never heard of The Waiting Room before, but the service was described as being very traditional tea service with all the classic touches, which sounded exactly like what we were after. I booked us a sitting on Saturday afternoon, and it was a really good afternoon! For $65 per person, you get the full tea service (3 tiered sweet and savoury tray, scones, sorbet and sparkling wine, and well as unlimited tea) in an unassuming, understated, beautiful little corner of the Crown Towers lobby. It truly just pops out of nowhere, and is the perfect little place to spend some time being a properly civilised lady (or gentleman) on a Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a closer look at what a high tea service at The Waiting Room entails…

The proper, traditional three-tiered tower, composed of hot savouries on the first tier: gougères filled with wild mushroom duxelles and rock lobster thermidor croustade. They were both really nice, but unfortunately had gone almost cold by the time they reached us. The mushrooms in the gougères were delicious, though!

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The second tier held the cold savouries: the traditional chicken sandwich on dark rye, the crab, avocado and dill sandwiches, the mini Waldorf salad cups and the egg and caviar sliders. Unfortunately the sandwich bread tasted a little stale, but the fillings were amazing! The chunks of walnut in the chicken sandwich were a great touch, and I absolutely loved the crab and creamy avocado with dill – amazing!

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And the final tier was the good stuff. The sweet stuff. The sugar coma-inducing stuff. I’m not even going to try to pretend like I remember exactly what everything was, but front and centre is the chocolate eclair (filled with creamy chocolate and so good!), the perfectly layered creation on the right was a chocolate citrus layer cake thing (amazing – really light fluffy cake, and the fruity cream was perfect with the chocolate), the little one at the back was I think a flourless cake with a syrupy sweet glaze and raspberry, and the pink domed thing, I cannot for the life of me remember what this was, but oh my God it was SO GOOD! Some sort of delicious mousse on a biscuit base, so smooth and creamy, deliciously crunchy bottom… it was perfection!

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Next up were the scones; they’re baked fresh to order, and take about 15 minutes. We had a fruit scone and a regular one each. To be honest, there wasn’t really any difference in taste other than the few raisins in the fruit one, but what a difference it makes getting the scones fresh out of the oven instead of just re-heated! They were some of the best scones I’ve had at a high tea!

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Just when we were ready to unzip our skirts and roll out the door, we were told that our final course was on the way, a small scoop of palate cleansing mandarin sorbet to finish on. We weren’t hungry, we were overflowing with sugar, we didn’t need the sorbet. But we actually did. It was such an unexpectedly great way to finish! The mandarin flavour was absolutely on point, just sweet enough, just tangy enough.

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The food was quite good, as you’d expect from a venue like this. The scones were a stand out, and the waiting time isn’t an issue, because you’re told from the start that they require 15 minutes cooking time, and you’re given the option of deciding when you’d like them brought out. The sorbet was also a really great touch and not something I’ve ever seen offered before – it was nice to end on something to light and refreshing after all of those heavier bites.

But what really made it for us was the service. It was authentic, impeccable service with a smile, and I’m not talking about forced “I-have-to-be-nice-to-you-because-that’s-what-I’m-paid-to-do-but-I’d-rather-be-elsewhere-and-I-hate-that-I’m-here-pretending-to-be-nice-to-you-instead” smiles either. I mean, they were being paid to look after us, obviously, but they were all so genuine and friendly and professional about it. And don’t fall for the stereotype that high tea is just for the ladies – there was the obligatory group of women celebrating a birthday or pending wedding or baby maybe? But there were also couples and mixed gender groups of friends, too. High tea might sound old fashioned and girly, but at the end of the day, if you enjoy being served up good food in a lovely setting, and enjoying a glass of wine and scones fresh out of the oven, it’s probably something you’re going to enjoy doing for a few hours as well!

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Tea time: Alice’s Tea Cup, New York. And take home some of their tea!


Alice’s Tea Cup (Chapter II)
156 E 64th St, New York
http://alicesteacup.com

Sunday afternoon. AKA time to kick back with a cuppa and enjoy the last few relaxing hours of the weekend. And I’ve got just the cup of tea for this afternoon. I’ll get to that in a minute. First up though, let me tell you about the deliciousness you can see above these sentences, at Alice’s Tea Cup in New York.

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I found this place by chance after a random Google search for a good afternoon tea spot in NYC. I love tea and scones (#secretnanna), and figured it’d be freezing cold in the city while we were there and my evil plan was that at some point husband would be like “damn it’s cold, could use a hot drink” and I’d be like “oh, great, I know just the place” and would be all “just follow me!” and lead us right here! It didn’t go exactly like that (I was the one who complained about the cold first this particular day), but we did get here, and it was amazing…

Alice’s Tea Cup actually has a few stores (chapters) in the city, and as the name implies, it’s a bit of a cutesy, whimsical, Alice-In-Wonderland themed tea nook. Yeah, it’s pretty girly, and I usually don’t go for that stuff at all, but I’m a bit Alice In Wonderland fan and I love tea and scones, so I made an exception just this once! They do everything (literally – breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner AND high tea), all day long. And to say that the tea list is impressive is a wild understatement – as you can see from their website, they cover every single one of your tea needs!

We went late at night, around 7.30pm, and decided on a pot of tea to share, along with a chocolate chip scone and a buttermilk scone, which came out with jam and cream. The scones were nice and soft, a little crumbly, but the jam and cream held it all together beautifully. I’d have loved to have done the high tea there as well… maybe next time 🙂 The service was really wonderful too, despite being close to closing time, and the floor staff looked after each and every table with the same bright smiles and warm chatter.

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The tea we ordered was the house special, “Alice’s tea,” an interesting blend of both black (Indian black vanilla) and green (Japanese) teas, with rose petals – it had another strong aroma that I can’t quite place right now.. maybe bergamot? Anyone else tried this tea and can remember? Anyway, it’s a beautifully smooth tea with plenty of flavour, I absolutely loved it. I asked our server if it was available to buy; all of the tea on the menu is available to purchase and take home! I grabbed a small pouch and am brewing a small pot for myself right now, actually. It drinks well both as is, and with a little milk (which is my preference), and is perfect on a colder day.

With three “chapters” around NYC (102 West 73rd St., 156 East 64th St. and 220 East 81st St.), the most enticing display of cakes and scones, the most thorough tea list I’ve ever seen, which you can take home with you, and such lovely staff, there’s really no reason not to visit!
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