With my 11th anniversary around the corner and my husband booking a week off work in celebration I gave it much thought about where to go and what to do. After a few hours of looking at various weekend and mid week getaways I had an epiphany, why not go to London? We enjoyed it a few years ago travelling around on the tube and generally sight seeing and we were due for a return, after all there were still places I had never seen before. So that was settled, we would go to London for the day, plus the coach service had tickets for ‘buy one adult get one free’ and it only cost us £25 for the both of us including returns. That gave us more money for London. While booking my tickets I thought it would be great if we could find a ‘fancy tea house’ to visit and by chance later that day I came across an article from The Telegraph that listed Ten places that could boast of ‘Best Afternoon Tea in London’. I read and gazed in awe of such beautiful (and expensive) tea rooms/houses and then one jumped out at me, ‘Best for a ceremonious experience: Teanamu Chaya Teahouse’.
The picture was of a traditional Chinese ceremonial set and instantly I fell in love with the possibility of visiting. The Teahouse is situated in Notting Hill which also happened to be an area of London that I had yet to visit, and furthermore it’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays with food being served between three times a day at specific times. Everything fell into place so perfectly and I went ahead and booked a table for 2pm, which would leave me plenty of time in Camden that morning which my husband said he would like to visit.
Teanamu Chaya Teahouse’ website has a little map which made finding it very easy. From the outside you would never imagine the magic that is waiting inside, infact unless you know exactly where this gem of a Teahouse is it would be very easy to miss.
Inside we were greeted by Mr Pei Wang and shown to our table. It was simply breathtaking, we stepped from a rather busy London street into a small Chinese Teahouse and it was literally a gateway from the hustle and bustle into peace and serenity. In the background of the quiet Teahouse Chinese music filled the air beautifully and added to the authenticity of this quaint place. Sitting at our table which was one of only six or seven available I looked around with a large smile on my face, the room was filled with teapots, gaiwans and various tea related items carefully placed on shelves and cabinets.
We were given a moment to pick from their menu of teas and lunch, as this visit was for our anniversary we went for the ‘ichi-go ichi-e afternoon tea for one’ for £25 each, all food served is purely vegetarian which for me was fantastic (I’m a long time vegetarian).
This was the menu:
pot of tea or tisane
wakame seaweed brown bread open sandwiches
:- garlic miso-pickled cream cheese with cucumber & shichimi pepper -:
:- kumquat ginger preserve and mature cheddar -:
:- chilli bamboo shoots on egg mayonnaise -:
:- lo mai fan lotus leaf rice parcel -:
:- vegetarian dumplings with sze chuan chilli oil -:
sweets and pàtisserie
:- mango seed cake -:
:- hua sheng su peanut sesame cookie -:
:- snow skin marzipan with guava -:
:- nutty choccy soft-set fudge -:
:- warm scone with clotted cream & rose petal jam -:
As for the teas each type had it’s own unique little card with the name and brief description which an unseasoned tea taster such as my husband found useful for help in choosing which to taste. In the end I decided to try the Gyokuro Jade Dew and my husband decided to join me in having a Japanese green and he had a Sencha (though the full name of his tea has escaped us as there was more than one Sencha on the menu).
On our tables were the beautiful ceremonial tea sets along with a self boiling kettle that was turned on for us when we were shown to our seats. With our teas chosen and the temperature adjusted for infrequent reheating we were asked if we would like the tea brewed for us. I thought that was a wonderful touch and asked that I would love for him to make the first steep, I had never had anyone else make me tea before using the ceremonial pots and it was a wonderful novelty. I was told about the tea that I had chosen and was given the leaves to inspect and enjoy before it’s steep. Since I chose a Japanese tea in a Chinese Teahouse (which I didn’t want to do but ended up really craving a Japanese green all morning) I was told that it will be brewed in the Chinese way. Water was to be very light and soft and for helping me to create the right temperature I was given a small jug of cold water, it was recommended to even be as low as 40c and each steep for no more than a few seconds. It was a beautiful tea, very grassy and vegetal but also sweet.
We were situated near the little open plan kitchen area and I could see the food being prepared as we were enjoying our tea. It was only a short wait until our first course came out, the open sandwiches.
They looked and smelled divine! Just what I needed that afternoon. Picking a favourite was just too difficult, each was unique yet delicious and the bread was no exception. Each slice had pieces of seaweed which gave it an extra wow factor. My husband can be picky with food but even he yummed them down with the greatest of ease and announced how delicious they were.
After our fill we waited another short while for our next course.
This is the ‘lo mai fan lotus leaf rice parcel’ which is noted on the website as being a customer favourite, it was also mentioned in The Telegraph’s article as being somewhat of a speciality and treat. We were served with chopsticks (which my husband managed to use rather well due to our amazement) and this ended up being my husbands favourite course of the day. The rice parcel is made up of ‘a sticky, tea-infused rice with braised mushrooms and sweet azuki’. After my first taste I could see why this was a favourite.
Again another short wait and out came the next course.
We each received two dumplings served in these beautiful little bowls. I was eager to try these and after my first dumpling I was in heaven, I could taste the garlic and chilli fusing together in my mouth and I could not imagine anything better. This was my favourite dish and I have since dreamt about them every day since my first taste. Again it was a large hit with my husband who is admittedly not a large fan of Chinese/Asian food.
By this point in our evening we had seen other tables start to fill and many chose to sample the delightful menu. Such an intimate and small area made it all the more special. Our self boiling kettle had been topped up a few times and I reached my sixth steep at this point. I was positively buzzing from the delights. And that was when our last course arrived.
A platter of deserts and all for me! My favourite being the scone with rose petal jam.
The whole evening was perfect and I know it’s an anniversary that we will never forget. It was homely, had a wide selection of tea, served amazing and fresh food and the service was first class, friendly and knowledgeable. I was even given a sample of tea to take away and review which I was told is a fairly new addition from a recent trip to Singapore. As promised my review for that tea will come in the next few days. Honestly I cannot speak highly enough of this wonderful Teahouse and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting London. I know that on my next visit to the capital I will be booking a table. As I rate my teas out of ten I feel that rating a Teahouse would be no different. Therefore I rate Teanamu Chaya Teahouse 10/10.
For a selection of their teas which can be purchased online or to book a reservation please visit their website.
Also as recommended by The Telegraph