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…

Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea time: Tao Dan Park Bird Cafe, Saigon

Tao Dan Park
110Bis, Nguyễn Du, Bến Thành, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

This café stop on our last morning in Saigon was probably the highlight of our time in Saigon. Another suggestion from our wonderful Cu Chi Tunnels guide, she told us about the “bird café” in Tao Dan Park; each morning, from around 6am until around 8 or 9am, a corner of the park becomes a meeting place for men around 30 – 50 years of age, and their pet birds. Sounds odd, right? It is, but in a really beautiful way.

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Keeping pet birds is quite popular in Vietnam – you notice cages everywhere, beautiful, old, vintage-looking bird cages, with gorgeous little feathered creatures sitting inside. The café at Tao Dan Park is a real social event, where the men of the city roll up on their motorbikes with their covered birdcages perched on the back. They park their bikes and carefully lift the cages, bringing them to rest on the floor in the middle of the outdoor “café.” The covers are removed from the cages, and they’re delicately hung from the hooks on what looks like a collection of big metal trees with braches especially crafted for the cages.

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While the women are off presumably raising the kids, cleaning the house, running the shops and doing whatever else needs to be done, the men sit around for a few hours enjoying their coffee and listening to their birds sing. We pulled up a little plastic table and joined the growing crowd, husband with his Vietnamese condensed milk iced coffee, and me with my lemon tea and journal. While the tea is nothing to write home about (just a Lipton tea bag, boiling water and a squeeze of lemon), husband said the coffee was amazing, and that’s what everyone else seemed to be drinking, too. I got a lot of strange looks, being the only woman around, but probably no stranger than the perplexed look on my face when I first arrived trying to work out what the hell was going on. Travel is like that – we might all be a little weird to each other, but you learn to adapt to anything 🙂

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Eat here: Northern Soul, Melbourne

Northern Soul
843 High St, Thornbury
http://www.northernsoul.com.au/

Happy hump day, kids! I hope everyone has a better day lined up than I do; I’ll be off having a few wisdom teeth ripped out in a few hours  >.<  I’d obviously rather be brunching, so let’s talk about that, instead.

I’ve had a bit of a crappy few weeks, so I was pretty excited to have not one but two lady breakfast dates over the weekend, with my two best friends 🙂 yay! Saturday morning’s breaky was at Northern Soul, and the second I set foot in the place, I was ready to use said foot to kick myself for having lived in the area for two and a half years and not having visited before.

I was in there all of 60 seconds before being hit by a combo of beautiful space, sexy dessert display, killer menu, super lovely staff and a general all round happy vibe. That’s what you want on a Saturday morning after a trying fortnight. In their own words, Northern Soul is a place where you can sit down, relax and enjoy some of the most delicious food in Thornbury.” They use fresh, organic, local, seasonal produce, happily catering for gluten free, vegan and vegetarians alike. They’re incredibly community and family focused, too, which is so great to have in an area that is so heavily built on older families and traditions.

When I head out to eat, I can usually pick a stand out dish pretty quickly to go with. This was one of those very rare times that I actually could not make up my mind. I’d narrowed it down to about 4 options, before remembering that they’re actually a Tibetan influenced operation, and they’re quite well known for their momos (dumplings). Breakfast momos it was!

Three big, fat, spinach and cheese filled momos, topped with smoked salmon and 2 poached eggs, with the most phenomenal dill and (I think) mustard seed yoghurt. While dumplings and smoked salmon initially seemed a bit of an odd combo, this was hands down the most creative breaky dish I’ve seen on a menu in a very long time, and it didn’t disappoint – completely perfect!

My beautiful friend went with one of the other dishes I was contemplating – the French toast, with Barbados cream, maple syrup and berry compote. Amazing…

I’m really reluctant to share this unassuming little spot in it’s quiet part of High Street, because I want to be able to keep visiting without a massive crowd, but when the food is THIS good and the service is lovely, and they’re supporting the community, you can’t not share it. The whole reason I blog is to share the things I love, and I really did fall in love with the place mighty quickly. If you’re a northerner, make it a priority. If you’re not, plan a visit out this way.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get my teeth pulled out and enjoy a diet of soup and jelly for a few days. The thought of heading back to Northern Soul when I’m all healed up is pulling me through!

 

Northern Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a day in Healesville

Healesville is actually one of my favourite places to get away to, other than Warburton. It’s nice because it’s that little bit closer, and has a bit more going on, which makes it the perfect area to run away to for a quick day trip! If you haven’t got plans over the Easter weekend, it might be a good time to head on over to Healesville…

 

TO EAT:
– Innocent Bystander Winery
Amazing wine, pizzas, cheeses, breads and pastries. It’s not cheap, but it is quality.
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– Mocha & Lime
Gorgeous little breakfast and lunch cafe, simple food done well.

– Healesville Harvest
A personal favourite of mine – incredible sandwiches using only the very best ingredients, and a cake cabinet that’ll make your jaw drop.

– Beechworth Bakery
Duh.

 

TO SHOP:
– Healesville Jewellers
Probably my favourite jewellery shop in the world – they do they most beautiful pieces with precious stones, and they’re very reasonably priced. They also do a lot of one-off pieces, and can adjust ring sizes on site.

– The Judith Eardley Save Wildlife Centre Op Shop
One of the best op shops in Victoria for books, in my opinion – their collection is enormous and super cheap!

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TO DO:

– Visit the weekend market
Because everyone loves a good market! You can pick up some absolutely brilliant little treasures there, too, if you have time to dig around a little…

– Stop at the Yarra Vallery Chocolaterie on the way home
Because their chocolate is magnificent, and so are the views…
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Eat here: Ruby’s, Melbourne

Ruby’s
138 Nicholson St, Coburg
https://www.facebook.com/RubysOnNicholson/

This little cutie pie art deco café has been open around 18 months now, and I’m guessing it’s tucked-away location on the quieter side of Coburg is the reason it’s not more popular. Husband and I found ourselves in the area not long ago, and having visited before, I suggested stopping in for lunch.

They have an incredible milk shake menu that fits perfectly with the kitschy diner-style set up and had me once again cursing my lactose issues. On the food side, there are equally delicious jaffle options, and a Greek inspired brunch menu. Husband went with the chili scrambled eggs with (very generous) sides of bacon and avocado, and he loved it – the fresh chili in the eggs especially.

I went with the olive toast with grilled haloumi and fresh herbs, plus a fried egg on top. Clearly the most perfect little fried egg to ever come out of a kitchen, as you can see below. The haloumi was the perfect topping to the olive bread, and the fresh mint was an especially nice touch.

This place was designed to be a laid back, down-to-earth, dog & child friendly eatery, with good, unpretentious food and attitudes, and it delivers 110%. Yet another reason to head to the North this weekend – the cafes there are seriously the best in Melbourne!


Ruby's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Le Café Flo, Melbourne

Le Café Flo
709 High St, Thornbury
http://www.lecafeflo.com/

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I love living so close to High Street – the whole way down is amazing, from Preston through to Thornbury, all the way down to Northcote. But, if I had to pick a favourite area right now, it’d be the Thornbury strip. The crowds mostly gather at Welcome to Thorbury’s food truck park, leaving the rest of it pretty free for the locals.  I love spending a lazy Saturday morning walking down the street (saw this GIANT sunflower on the way to this particular lunch stop!), rummaging through Green’s, followed by food. On our last venture, I had a hankering for a sandwich, so we stopped at Le Café Flo.

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This little place is always busy, which is why it’s taken me so long to stop in for a feed – we got lucky, with a table vacating as we walked past, so we quickly grabbed it. It’s a gorgeous little café, with friendly service and a really happy atmosphere. A lot of the diners were obviously regulars, with staff stopping for a chat with a few of them on their way through.

The menu is beautifully and simply French – there are a few fancy dishes like snails, but the baguette and crepe menus are the most extensive. We decided to go with baguettes…
For husband – Le Parisien: Grand Mother’s ham, Dijon mustard butter and cornichons
For me – Le classic: Grand Mother’s ham, Dijon mustard butter, salad and fromage d’Affinois triple cream

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The perfect baguettes – soft and fluffy inside with nice crunchy crusts. This was the ultimate ham and cheese sandwich – husband’s was nice, but the creamy cheese in mine was magic. This is what happens when you use good quality ingredients and put them together in a simple manner. If you’ve got such good ham and cheese and bread, you don’t need to do anything else to them! Considering how busy it was, the service was still pretty quick and friendly, the dessert window looked amazing (pastry!), and it was the perfect little place to relax on the weekend 🙂
Le Café Flo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato