A custom with deep roots in tradition, sipping tea has been around for millennia. More and more specialty retailers are including tasting salons to give customers a more immersive experience with their wares. There are specialty tea shops here that really know how to put on a show for this age-old pastime. Murphy, Megan
1. San Francisco, Samovar Tea Bar
Jesse Jacobs has spent the last 12 years visiting farms all over the globe to engage with farmers and collect tea leaves for his four Samovar lounges in San Francisco. He had spent the better part of last year in Hawaii, where he had been assisting new tea producers get their feet wet, and had returned with a renewed sense of inspiration and a plan to rethink the way he markets and sells his product. With the help of brewing-tech startup Alpha Dominche, Jacobs has designed glass crucibles that he and his employees use to make tea at his newest Samovar. With the touch of an Android tablet, these machines can prepare the ideal temperature water for a single serving of tea (140 degrees for a Japanese first flush, 195 for herbal). For every technological advancement, there is an artisanal design to counteract it, such as the ceramic cups made by Atelier Dion in Oakland, California: “They’re unglazed on the exterior so you can get a feel for raw chalk or stone,” Jacobs explains. “I’d want to give the impression that tea is robust rather than delicate. And I don’t see why tea couldn’t work the same way. Each of the cups feels substantial in one’s hand.” Samovartea is located at 411 Valencia St.
2. French for “Marriage Brothers”; Parisian
This famed Parisian store has one of the most extensive collections in the world, with more than 600 fragrant kinds displayed along an apothecary-style wall. Indulge in excellent French food and tea-scented treats while sipping the ultimate haute cup of tea (such the Coup De Soleil vanilla black tea blend with caramel and wild strawberry aroma).
3. Shanghai’s Hu Xin Ting Teahouse.
This 145-year-old teahouse in Shanghai (sometimes called the “first teahouse in China”) is located in the centre of a koi-filled lake and is a major tourist attraction. Classic green, jasmine, and flower teas, sweet and savoury foods, magnificent landscapes, and monthly musical performances may all be found at Hu Xin Ting, but getting there requires crossing a zigzag bridge and braving the throng.
4. Amsterdam’s “t Zonnetje”
Since 1642, ‘t Zonnetje has provided Amsterdam residents with tea, coffee, and spices (thee, koffie en kruiden). This quaint store sells antiques and has a large variety of teas, with a salon on the second floor where you may enjoy them with traditional Dutch shortbread called Jodenkoeken and English marmalade.
5. Taipei, Taiwan; Wang De Chuan
With a focus on reimagining Taiwanese customs, this family-run business has been serving the local community for over a century. This cutting-edge cafe provides all four traditional types of Chinese tea (green, verdant, red, and black) as well as flavorful milk tea, a twist on traditional cold brew, and freshly baked pastries.
6. Restaurant Yumchaa Soho; London
The eccentric London-based purveyor and tea salon, driven by the mission to “make tea (chaa) that tastes great,” strictly adheres to the no-bag policy and only curates excellent, loose-leaf types. Old World charm and New World taste are brought together in Yumchaa’s unique handmade blends including the zingy Chai Red, fragrant Raspberry Vanilla, and fiery Chilli Chilli Bang Bang.
7. Copenhagen’s Perch Tea Room
One of the oldest tea shops in the world, A.C. Perchs was established in 1835. The renowned business in the heart of Copenhagen has a tranquil second-floor tearoom where you can sample more than 130 high-quality kinds, including those named after notable Danes like the Prince of Denmark blend and the Fairytale taste in honour of Hans Christian Andersen.
8. Tea World Gallery, a Salon and Boutique in Singapore
TWG (The Wellness Group) is a global chain of high-end boutiques and elegant teahouses that is widely regarded as a pioneer in the tea industry. The Singapore flagship salon is a high-end establishment where guests can enjoy a wide variety of harvest teas and custom blends, as well as trademark tea-infused treats and handcrafted pastries.
9. Soho, New York City; Harney & Sons
Harney & Sons is a family-run American business that has been making gourmet tea since 1983 and is based in Millerton, New York. The firm has grown into a global leader in the production and distribution of premium organic and certified kosher loose teas and tisanes. More than 250 different types may be sampled at the store’s chic Soho tasting bar, and monthly workshops are also available.
10. Japanese city of Kyoto; Ippodo
Ippodo Tea Company has been making premium Japanese green teas for over 300 years. Now its meticulously nurtured premium varieties may be purchased in shops all across the globe. Located in the centre of Kyoto, Ippodo’s flagship store is home to both the Kaboku tearoom and educational courses on traditional Japanese tea preparation methods.
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