Tealicious Tea Shops and Tea Regions Around The World
Tea. It's the "hot refresher," the afternoon cuppa, the delicious beverage that can be drank warm, cold, or somewhere in between. You can indulge in at least six different categories of tea (black, dark, oolong, green, yellow, and white), doctor it up however you want, ...and find it all over the world!
We at Two Nerds Travel love tea. The leaf is how we met. It's what we drank on our first date, where we rendezvoused during our first two years together, the favor we gave guests who attended our wedding. You could say tea is a lifestyle in our household. Thus, whenever we travel, we make it a goal to find the tastiest, cutest, most unique tea shops in town.
Of course, we haven't been everywhere yet, but we're always looking for inspiration—both for ourselves and for you! So we teamed up with incredible travel bloggers from all over to tell you about the best tea shops and tea regions around the world.
Drink up, and enjoy!
• Yanaka Ginza, Japan•
Contributed by: One Green Bicycle
For avid green tea drinkers, Japan is the place to start for the perfect tea shop or tea room. I found my very favorite tea house while roaming Yanaka Ginza, meaning “little ginza,” outside of Nippori station. Loving varieties of flavors, textures, and tea aromas, I was excited to amble into a tea house called Kanekichien.
This tea house doesn’t look as idyllic as others I’ve been to in Japan. However, the heart of the tea house is what matters. The Japanese owners offered me samples and shared with me the many wonderful attributes of the kinds of tea they offered. Shuffling through papers, they found one laminated English list differentiating the kinds of green tea with short descriptions to help me make an educated choice.
One cute moment was when they pointed at my tea cup, stating it had been perfectly shaped to make the tea look like sakura, meaning “cherry blossom.” Motioning to Gyokuro tea, I nested into the cozy corner and sipped quietly on this delicate tea. Relaxed, I continued people watching and enjoying the moment. My favorite part of my experience, however, was meeting the tea shop owners. We connected over tea despite the lack of translation.
When you go to a tea shop, get the best experience by focusing on three elements. Talk with the owner or the locals around you to get a feel for the ambiance of the place, regardless of the furnishings. Ask questions about your tea and why it’s special. Lastly, base your final thoughts by how the shop made you feel: welcomed and friendly or rushed and disconnected. People who spend their lives in the tea industry usually have quite a story. Drink some tea and listen.
• United States •
Contributed by: Two Nerds Travel (that's us!)
From the moment we walked into TeaSource in Minnesota, we knew we'd found something special. Sweet, warm aromas of fruit, milk, and spices filled the air, much like a bakery (we suppose) but ten times better. What were we smelling, we asked as we wandered up to the counter? TeaSource's famous chai ... and that was just the beginning of our adventure into tea.
TeaSource is one of Minnesota's local tea businesses. They have three locations across the Twin Cities (Eden Prairie, Saint Anthony, and Saint Paul), and each one is decorated with old tea crates, towers of Puer cakes that look like Christmas trees, and a huge wall of tea canisters (there are over 200 of them)! You can smell their teas and purchase some to take home or sit down with a pot of steeped goodness (we're partial to the oolongs ourselves, especially TeaSource's Brandy Oolong) and a scone or croissant from a nearby bakery.
The owner of TeaSource prides himself in choosing the very best teas for his customers. How do we know? Mrs. Nerd used to work* at TeaSource (that's how the Nerds met, they both applied for the same job and she got it, but Mr. Nerd remained a regular for obvious reasons), and while she left to go to college, TeaSource's passion for quality teas and delicious broth still remains burned in her mind and senses.
*As a disclaimer, I am no longer associated with TeaSource and haven't been for over 2 years, but I remain a frequent customer because the teas (and memories, and that addicting aroma) bring me back.
Contributed by: Year of the Monkey
San Francisco, my home that I love to bits, will provide you major European city feels with its inclined streets and charming Victorian houses. So it comes as no surprise that it also has its fair share of tea rooms where you can spend an idyllic afternoon with your friends or family over pots of tea—along with savory and sweet treats. Of the several located in the city, my favorite is the cutest little tea shop with an equally adorable name: Crown and Crumpets in San Francisco’s Japan Town.
Unlike other tearooms with a major British hangover in their decor, C&C dons a distinctly modern design and comes with a neat little tea menu featuring teas by category along with one for savories and pastries. There is a very reasonably priced “tea for one” option that has food enough to be shared by two (you pay only $6 extra for +1); plus it also has several a la carte menu options (scones, crumpets, sandwiches) that you can choose and get a small pot of tea if you're not a big tea drinker.
My tea of choice is almost always a 2nd flush Darjeeling, one of the best teas in the world (and it comes from my home state of West Bengal, India) which you can enjoy with dairy free milk if you are lactose intolerant like me. The savory sandwiches have a vegetarian option, and the fruit scones (with a side of clotted cream and jam) and crumpets (with a side of lemon curd) are super tasty! Moist with a slight crunch, the crumpets are just the right kind of satisfying. Fun ambiance, great selection of tea and a delightful service make C&C a must visit spot for all tea lovers. Do stop by if in San Francisco to enjoy a hot cuppa!
Contributed by: Ginger on the Go NYC
Now operating at three locations around New York City, Alice's Tea Cup is a dream come true for every little girl, and every woman who still holds onto a piece of her childhood. It's the perfect brunch spot, or a lovely place for a celebration.
The tea shops are located on the Upper East and West Sides of Manhattan, near Central Park and a variety of museums. It is much easier to get a reservation here than the world famous Plaza Hotel, but if your heart is set on tea in NYC, it's probably best to make a reservation for Alice's Tea Cup as well.
The tea menu is extensive and can be served hot or cold. You can enjoy traditional English Tea with scones or opt for other brunch and lunch options. Or if you're in a truly celebratory mood, enjoy a sweet treat from the bakery. The chocolate cake we ordered here was phenomenal! Plus, Alice's Tea Cup is very child friendly. These whimsically decorated little tea shops will keep locals and tourists of all ages coming back for more. It is one of the cutest tea experiences you will find in New York City!
For more travel inspiration, check out Ginger on the Go NYC on Instagram.
• Cape Town, South Africa •
Contributed by: Wanderlust Movement
Situated in the middle of Cape Town's bustling CBD (central business district) lies one of the city's best kept secrets for tea enthusiasts. Dear Me is an ethical brasserie and pantry that has an entire page of its menu dedicated to teas.
Try their unique South African rooibos teas. From their Hot Cross Bun Chai or their delectable Vanilla and Strawberry, it's one of the best ways to experience the country's blend before moving on to other African countries.
If you like your tea sans milk, skip the overdone English Breakfast for something more exotic. Grown in the gardens of Thyolo between 1,000 and 1,200 metres above sea level, Dear Me's Malawian blend is not be missed by the discernible tea drinker.
Looking for tea infusions? Dear Me boasts an array of flavours to choose from. Add some spice with Deep Heat, a tea infused with chili, ginger, lemon, and apple lapacho. Or if you're looking for something on the sweeter side, Forest Berries will satisfy your cravings with an infusion of raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
For herbal tea lovers, the shop offers three exciting blends. Hibiscus has a tart and fruity, Pure Camomile is ideal for those seeking simplicity, and Herbal Highmoon is the complete opposite and packs a flavour punch.
Other tea options include green tea, oolong, and an artistic offering called Dan Gui Piao Xiang. Make sure to book out a chunk of your day when you visit Dear Me, so you have more than enough time to indulge in the flavours and blends of this unique brasserie in Cape Town.
• Burma, Asia •
Contributed by: Kootour
Burmese tea culture is incredibly important. It comes from the ancient Indian influences and of course, British colonisation. My first experience with Burmese tea culture was long and convoluted. We looked for these ‘tea shops’ everywhere, expecting to find something more in line with what I thought a tea shop should look like. Instead, I found I had been walking past them all along!
The tea shops are often little nooks into buildings with lots of tiny stools or children-sized chairs surrounding long, low benches. There are tall thermoses on each table of weak green tea, and you place your order with one of the tea boys—usually in their teens or younger. The strong tea is poured high from tin to tin by the tea maker, adding sweet condensed or evaporated milk to the concoction. This is served with a variety of snacks and pastries that arrive at your table, and you just pay for what you eat (confusing at first for the unwitting traveller)!
These tea shops are frequented almost entirely by men. The local patrons eyed us with surprise but not suspicion, gently humoured by our presence in their local brew shop. In darker times, tea shops were filled with government ears and only approved subjects could be discussed here. Now, it feels like popping into a local pub. People meet, talk, laugh, and enjoy their strongly brewed beverages. Just don’t order a coffee, it comes out of a sachet!
For more travel inspiration, check out Kootour on Instagram.
• Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka •
Contributed by: Flying Fluskey
Nuwara Eliya is the centre of tea production in Sri Lanka. Have you heard of Ceylon Tea? That's the stuff. After a failed attempt at planting coffee in the surrounding hills, someone clever decided to try tea and it's now big business.
My favourite tea from the area is a lovely orange tea. It is very mellow and deserves to have attention paid to it as its drunk. It is served without milk, but possibly with a little sugar if you're feeling fancy.
If you're feeling really fancy, you should head to the Grand Hotel, where they do a scrumptious SrI Lanka afternoon tea. You can take tea in the tea lounge or sit outside on the terrace. Wherever you choose, you will be served by waiters and waitresses in fine uniforms who are the very model of colonial decorum.
There's three levels of delicacies to this afternoon tea. You start with finger sandwiches, slightly spiced to tingle the tastebuds. Next, you are treated to a small selection of SrI Lanka street food snacks. Fried delights full of exciting unknown fillings. Finally the cakes, modeled on French patisserie, are delightful. And of course, it's all washed down with cup after cup of tasty orange tea.
For more travel inspiration, check out Flying Fluskey on Facebook.
• Trondheim, Norway •
Contributed by: Dressing Danishly
One of the cutest tea shops I've ever visited has to be Fairytale Cupcakes in Trondheim, Norway. Situated on Thomas Angells Gate, it's tucked away from the main city centre, so it’s not the kind of place you just stumble across. Once you’ve found it however, you won’t want to leave; it's a haven for tea and cupcake lovers!
The gorgeous smell of baking hits you as soon as you open the door, and you’re welcomed with rows and rows of beautifully decorated cupcakes in a rainbow of colours and flavours. What goes better with cupcakes than tea?! Being British, obviously I LOVE my tea, but I like keeping it simple: English Breakfast works fine for me. Ordering a pot alongside a pale pink raspberry cupcake was the perfect lunch during a day of exploring in Trondheim.
It’s not just tea and cupcakes that Fairytale Cupcakes does well. The hot pink walls and kitschy ornaments really make you feel like you’ve stepped right into a fairytale, and it works really well with the atmosphere! If you want to stay a bit longer (and who can blame you?!) Fairytale Cupcakes offer a lunch menu too. This is one place I’ll be heading back to for a pot of tea and a cake next time I’m in Trondheim!
• England •
Contributed by: Tracy's Travels in Time
I am a bit of a walking cliché—I'm English and I LOVE tea! I drink at least 5 cups a day and always start the day with a cuppa. And for me, the absolute epitome of Englishness is visiting a good tea room!
The quirkiest tea room I've ever visited are the Abbey Tea Rooms in Tewkesbury, England. Everything in the place is from the 1940s and 1950s; literally everywhere you look there are reminders of a bygone era. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, so many of the many decorations on the walls (and hanging from the ceiling) are familiar to me from visits to my Grandparents.
Music from the 1940s and 50s plays in the background whilst you enjoy your pot of tea and slice of homemade cake. Wander out to the garden and visit the outside toilets, and you will realise that no space on a wall or door is spared from records, magazine covers, signs and other memorabilia.
The Abbey Tea Rooms do not accept cards, only cash, as befitting an establishment from 60 years ago. Do visit—and enjoy a nostalgic visit to the past!
Contributed by: Creative Travel Guide
On our first trip to Liverpool, England, we were a little confused to find a red bus parked up next to the Albert Docks. The red bus is a symbol of London and all things British, so we decided to check it out. It wasn’t just a random bus but a cafe! You could head up to the top deck or opt for one of the benches outside on a sunny day.
We decided to try their Afternoon Tea for just £15 for two. Not only did they offer a selection of English Tea but the sandwiches, scones, and cakes were delicious and fresh. Calum isn’t a big tea drinker but enjoyed the classic Earl Grey black tea. I tried a Darjeeling tea: a tea from India that had a strong fragrance and tasted a bit like almonds. The Chamomile tea was also tasty with a fresh apple flavour.
So, the idea of an afternoon tea on an iconic red bus is pretty fun, but what I loved about this place (and the reason I returned the following day) was the variety of teas available, with teas from all over the world paired with cakes that complimented the flavours. Heaven!
• Mumbai, India •
Contributed by: Dotted Globe
"Irani Masala Chai in Old Bombay with a side of Persia please!"
That might well be your order as you sit down to a cup of Irani spiced tea at Kyani & Co. in Mumbai, India. Mumbai’s ‘Irani cafes’ were established by India’s Iranian immigrants in late 19th / early 20th century; the story goes that there was an Iranian café at every corner in South Bombay. Most have disappeared with time; the ones that remain are legends providing a glimpse in the ways of Old Bombay. Kyani & Co. established in 1904 is oldest operating Iranian café in Mumbai.
The iconic Irani Masala Chai (Irani spiced tea) is fragrant with subtle hints of cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg and is brewed with plenty of milk. Traditional Persian tea is without milk; Mumbai’s Irani Masala Chai represents the Indo-Persian fusion evident in Mumbai’s Irani cafes. The tea is usually accompanied by ‘brun maska’, fresh baked bread with lashings of butter. Kyani & Co.’s extensive menu features delicious Irani fare and is popular with patrons.
Kyani & Co. and its ilk inspired Nissim Ezekiel, India’s famous poet, to write a poem titled “Irani Restaurant Instructions,” in their honor: “Please / Do not spit / Do not sit more / Pay promptly, time is invaluable / Do not write letter / Without order refreshment / Do not comb / Hair is spoiling floor / Do not make mischief’s in cabin / Our waiter is reporting / Come again / All are welcome whatever caste / If not satisfied tell us / Otherwise tell others / GOD IS GREAT.” The poem is a brilliant ode to the efficient service and cordial owners of Irani cafes and bears contemplation over a cup of fragrant Irani Masala Chai.