What’s so intriguing about tea — a relatively common brew — an unbeliever might ask. Apart from its rich history, the journey of tea and how it continues to adapt to tastes and geography of the places it visits, is fascinating to say the least. This, is a travel trail of tea houses with distinct and unforgettable personalities.
The popularity of Sri Lankan tea transcends the teardrop country’s boundaries. The concept of ‘two leaves and a bud was found here, and whether you’re a casual tourist or a seasoned traveller, chances are you’ll be bringing a multitude of tea flavours back home as souvenirs. Unsurprisingly, tea export contributes to 2% of the country’s GDP.
If you’re ever in Galle, a quaint and whimsical café with an old-world charm called the Royal Dutch Café, nestles amid sea-lined fort ruins. Reminiscent of its former Dutch occupants, the air is thick with the nostalgia of its heritage, juxtaposed against the backdrop of blue seas and ancient fort walls. A freshly brewed cup of Ceylon tea in the Royal Dutch Cafe, facing the balmy ocean breeze, reminds you of the truth of this café’s wall poster that anytime, is indeed, tea time.
The origins of tea drinking in India are colonial, but we’ve since made the beverage entirely our own. The calming thought of a quick stopover at a tea stall with a piping hot glass of chai, as the city bustles around, or nursing a warm cuppa as the rain patters against your window, is probably universally appealing.
Imagine then, a chai-addict’s delight at spotting a little Israeli café hidden in the mountainous gorges of chilly Vattakanal. Conveniently located at the end of the Dolphin Nose trekking trail to refresh the tired and the hungry, this Lonely Planet recommended place serves delicious tea (among other things), with the welcoming ambience of floating clouds and an incredible mountain view.
The highest consumers of tea since the 18th century, the picture of porcelain tea-ware and a Victorian throwback seems inevitable when you think of England and tea. However, tea was introduced to the country through merchants at sea in China and Japan, who sung its praises in ye olde English.
Dean Street Townhouse in Soho, London, an erstwhile culture hub frequented by artists, painters and the like, is currently a modish establishment which the CN Traveller calls luxe-for-less. If you’ve ever read of Agatha Christie’s afternoon tea with scones swimming in butter, you’ll need to come here for that Victorian experience.
Maybe this list features tea rooms that are far flung, but don’t forget, you’re never too far from a good brew!