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International Tea Day 2024: Step into the world’s best tearooms and houses to experience tradition and taste

By, New Delhi
May 21, 2024 08:29 AM IST

Celebrate International Tea Day 2024 by exploring the world's finest tearooms and houses, from historic Kyoto to modern New York, offering unique tea culture.

Made from the Camellia sinensis plant, tea is the world’s most-consumed drink, after water. There is evidence that tea was consumed in China 5,000 years ago. Today, globally, the tea market is valued at $122 billion and expected to rise to $160 billion by 2028. International Tea Day is observed annually on May 21, to raise awareness of the long history and the deep cultural and economic significance of tea around the world.

Let’s look at some of the world’s best teahouses and tearooms:

Discover the best places to enjoy a perfect cup of tea and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this beloved beverage.(Pexels)

1. Zhao Zhou, Budapest (Hungary): At Zhao Zhou, a teashop and laboratory, founder Peter Galambos is as much a fascinating story as the single origin, whole leaf, small batch artisan teas that they source from Asian mountains. Galambos went to China to study biochemistry but soon switched to Traditional Chinese Medicine. He spent a considerable time in India & Tibet and then returned to Budapest to establish this famed teashop. They work with Hungarian ceramists to have unique, handmade, beautiful vessels for their Matchas.And if you want to learn tea-vocabulary, go to their website. (Also read: Sore throat due to air pollution? 6 tea recipes for instant relief and recovery )

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2. Te Company, New York City (USA): Established in 2012, Té is a New York-based tea company specialising in Taiwanese tea that is sourced directly from small farmers in Taiwan. They say, Taiwanese oolong is the darling of the tea world. Their teas are available in loose leaf form (2 oz or more) and can be brewed for table service or takeaway. In addition to an array of loose leaf tea, Té is known for its exceptional tea snacks, including the beloved Pineapple Linzer.

3. Ippodo (Kyoto, Japan): Ippodo's origins date back to1717, when Rihei Watanabe established a shop called Omiya to sell tea and ceramics. In 1846, the shop was renamed Ippodo (literally, preserve one). Their Kyoto Main Store is situated on historic Teramachi Street, only about a five-minute walk from Kyoto Imperial Palace. The store is easily identified by its noren shop curtains with the Ippodo name in Japanese. Ippodo also has an outpost in Tokyo’s upmarket Marunouchi district, a walking distance from Tokyo Station.

4. Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai (India): This is the place for the best afternoon tea. Take your pick from Sea Lounge Afternoon Tea Buffet ( 3,000 ) and Maharaja Afternoon Tea Buffet ( 4500), both offering an array of chaats, finger sandwiches, canapés, Western and Indian hot snacks, finest, chocolates, English cakes, scones and other baked goods, served with choice of tea or coffee. The Maharaja Afternoon Tea has a selection of mouthwatering savouries and sweet delicacies treasured by the Princely States of India.

5. Huxinting Teahouse, Shanghai (China): The oldest existing teahouse in Shanghai, Huxinting Teahouse is an attractive pagoda style building built on stilts in the middle of a pond and accessible via a zigzagged bridge designed to keep bad spirits away. Story is that the Queen of England once came to Shanghai to sip tea in this Teahouse - that’s how special the tea here is.

6. Mariage Frères, Paris (France): Go back to 1660 to trace Mariage Freres’ India connection. Nicolas Mariage made several voyages to Persia, the East Indies and India during the Mughal Empire and his descendants continue the tea tradition. In Paris, on June 1, 1854, Henri and Édouard established the Mariage Frères Tea House and atthe time, the Tea Salon was the first of its kind to offer brunch in Paris. Here, one discovers a unique tea-flavoured cuisine and patisserie where tea occupies an important place as an ingredient in many recipes. Do not miss the Mariage Frères Tea Museum.

7. Tea House at the White Rabbit Gallery, Sydney (Australia): Housed in a Rolls-Royce service depot of the 1940s, the White Rabbit Gallery is known for one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art. And of course, the wide range of the finest Chinese and Taiwanese teas that is served in their Tea House. Take your pick from oolong, partly oxidised leaves that are twisted or rolled into tiny balls; white teas, named for the pale down on their leaves; flower teas like chrysanthemum, which blossom in the pot; and in summer, a cooling lychee iced tea.

8. Barker Tea House, Cardiff (United Kingdom): The clink of porcelain teacups, the tantalising aroma of freshly baked scones, and the exquisite array of sandwiches and sweet bakes. That is how Barker Tea House begins describing itself. Located in the High Street Arcade (opposite Cardiff Castle), this multi-level venue stocks oodles of teas, alongside the coffee classics. Their afternoon teas can be created vegan-friendly, vegetarian, or gluten-free.

9. The Ritz, London (United Kingdom): The only hotel in London to have a certified Tea Master, the Afternoon Tea in the century-old The Ritz is served in the spectacular surroundings of The Palm Court. You can choose from 20 different types of loose-leaf tea and indulge in a slice of the finest British tea tradition. Savour a selection of finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and a mouth-watering range of exquisitely presented pastries and teacakes. As the perfect ending to Afternoon Tea experience, you get the signature Ritz tableside service that includes two generous slices of cake, served from the gueridon cake trolley.

10. TWG Tea Salon & Boutique (Singapore): Regarded as an international tea institution, TWG has stores and tearooms across the globe, the most famous one being in Singapore. TWG Tea tasters travel thousands of miles across the globe every year, sampling hundreds of teas in search of the most desirable harvests direct from source gardens. They offer over 1,000 single-estate, fine harvest teas and exclusive blends, as well as tea patisseries and other tea-infused delicacies. You can also pick tea tins, a myriad of hand-blown glass, porcelain, stoneware and cast iron teapots, fine bone china teacups, saucers, creamers and sugar bowl from their accessory collection.

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