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What to Look for in a Good Tearoom

Editor’s note: This is the first article for this blog by tea lecturer May King Tsang of May King Tea. We hope to see more.

Having visited many tearooms, these are my top 10 tips on what a customer should look for:

MayKing Tea: Believe it or not there is a right and a wrong way of making tea, something I wrote about in relation to green tea.  If the tea has been steeped too long and tastes bitter, there are not enough tea leaves in the pot, or if the tea tastes stale and flat, then take it back. The tearoom should be able to take constructive feedback.

Atmosphere: Atmosphere can really make all the difference and, for a truly exquisite High Tea experience, a quiet setting is best with the clinking sounds of the bone china tea cups, the pouring of tea by the resident Tea Sommelier, and the sighs of contentment as people indulge in their cucumber sandwiches and scones with jam and cream. 

High Tea at Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia
High Tea at Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia

You’re welcome! Please, thank you, or even a smile! Unfortunately, I’ve been to places where the staff is way too cool to serve you, saying unpleasant things to their colleague about a customer, chewing their nails behind the counter (!) — I’ve seen it all. A little politeness can often go a long way.

Knowledge: The mark of a great tearoom is the staff’s knowledge, including their confidence in tea recommendations to undecided customers. As a customer, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the tea menu. If staff can approach you with a smile and offer their assistance, it will give you (and them) a truly memorable tea experience. 

Innovation: Holding tea tasting workshops, tea talks, or something a little more ritualistic such as a Gong Fu Tea Ceremony are great ways to introduce teas to new and existing customers.  Tea and food pairing classes are also proving to be popular. What is your tearoom offering in the way of tea events?

Gong Fu Tea Ceremony performed by the author, May King Tsang
Gong Fu Tea Ceremony performed by the author, May King Tsang

Nice display: Actually we don’t want just a nice display but a great display to entice people to stop in their tracks, look and walk in.  Gone are the days of the same unchanged window display, dust covered teapots, and smeared glass windows (I hope!).

Going the extra mile: A tearoom can do this by sourcing a wide range of good quality teas, by sourcing specialist teawares, and by differentiating themselves from other tearooms in terms of décor.  I can’t emphasise enough the importance of customer service.  What else does your local tearoom do to go the extra mile?

Tea: The quality of tea is of paramount importance.  Whether it’s a teabag, loose leaf or herbal infusion it doesn’t matter. As long as it tastes good, there are no artificial flavourings added, it’s a real tea (as opposed to herbal), and whether the leaf can be reinfused several times.

Exceed Expectation:  It’s the little things that really make a difference, isn’t it?  I came across a tearoom where the staff came back with the tea I had ordered and she told me how long the tea already steeped which meant I could make the tea according to how I like it.  Now, that’s what I call excellent customer service!

Attentiveness:  In a Chinese Restaurant, when the teapot is out of water, the lid would be lifted out of the pot to indicate to the service staff that the teapot needs refilling, and it is this attentiveness that really does make a tearoom memorable.

Tea Service in a Chinese Restaurant
Tea Service in a Chinese Restaurant

Note: Take the first letter of each section and what do you get? Visit your local tearoom and have a wonderful tea-filled day.

© Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this article’s author and/or the blog’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Online Stores, Inc., and The English Tea Store Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

5 responses to “What to Look for in a Good Tearoom”

  1. […] mortified to hear they didn’t have a positive experience in a UK tearoom. As I had written, “what to look for in a good tearoom” in a previous post, I felt a strong urge to put the kettle on and reminisce about some of the […]

  2. […] also: Everything but the Tea What To Look For In A Good Tearoom Update for All the “Tea Princesses” You Know You’re a Spoiled “Tea Princess” When… […]

  3. […] The second blog I was recently invited to contribute to is The English Tea Store Blog The English Tea Store Blog is a great resource for anyone who enjoys a cup of tea and would like to know more.  So far I’ve written about tea-rooms I’ve visited in the UK, my Top 10 tips for making tea and what to look for in a good tea-room […]

  4. I want to eat everything on the scone platter thingy. And everything next to it. Yes, even the plates.

    (Hrm…maybe I shouldn’t post comments while hungry *mental note*.)

    1. Yes, Geoff, eat something first, but those treats do look yummy… mmmmm…

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