If there was ever a place to encourage the love of tea in London, this is it. Don’t be dissuaded by what seems like an odd location, as it is set back in a Notting Hill neighborhood, in what looks like a residential home. I personally think the location adds to the relaxation of the experience, as you’re not watching people run up and down on the high street or dealing with the crowds that come with that kind of location.
Pei who runs this lovely tea house(open on Saturdays & Sundays 12-6pm) is incredibly friendly and helpful. The decor is gorgeous, with elegantly worn furnishings and gongfu tea ceremony accoutrements at every table. The music is also low and very soothing and adds to the ambiance without being distracting.
There is a excellent selection of teas from Japanese and Chinese greens to both black and green pu erh, and a really fantastic selection of oolongs. He also offers a list of tisanes that can be added to the tea for extra flavouring, such as rose, osmanthus, or longan fruit. I sampled two oolongs, the honey orchid phoenix and the lishan. Both were very smooth with lovely mouth feel.
As a side note, each table has a little card explaining the steps in gongfu tea preparation, and I think that is such a nice way to introduce people to a different style of tea prep. I was also being a little slow today and I was holding the yixing pot in a way which limited the flow of tea, and Pei saw me struggling, and corrected the mistake and showed me how to do it, without making me feel stupid or embarrassed. That, I appreciate so much!
The food on offer is going to change weekly as he tries out new things, but our glutinous rice parcels and vegetarian dumplings were brilliant, savoury and filling, and our clementine almond cake was moist and fluffy and delicious.
My suggestion is to use the website form to make a reservation, as the space is on the small side(17-18 people max), and you know you want the best service and experience possible. So book in advance and be so incredibly happy you did.
also, I was so inspired by my experience I came home and busted out my own gong fu set that has sat unused on my mantle since it came home with me from Hong Kong. It’s now been dusted off and I am currently enjoying a lovely cup of genmaicha.