London Tea Spots: Yumchaa

London is a city full of lovely tea spots where you can stop in and enjoy a nice cuppa. Yumchaa is one of those, and what’s more, it is a spot that deals exclusively in loose leaf tea. In fact, they are positively militant about the absence of bags, sachets, or any other device that might imprison the venerable tea leaf—one of their slogans is “Say no to tea bagging, say yes to freedom!”

Tea at Yumchaa (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)
Tea at Yumchaa (photo by Elise Nuding, all rights reserved)

Slogans like this make them my kind of people (although I must admit, I do enjoy the occasional bagged tea brand for a standard cuppa). They have several locations around London, and as well as tea shops where you can stop in for a cup of tea and a slice of cake, they also have stalls at many of the markets around London where you can pick up some tea to take home.

I ventured into their tea shop near Goodge Street (their newest shop), which has a beautiful interior lit by the natural daylight that floods through the large central skylight. If I were well versed in interior design lingo, I might call it “shabby chic”, but as I am not, I will just say that I liked their eclectic chair collection.

The first thing that I found to my liking (or the second if you count the chairs) is that Yumchaa provides a small loose sample of each of their teas, allowing you to let the aroma of the dry tea help you decide whether the tea is what you think it is (I am surely not the only one who has opted for a tea that turns out to smell/taste quite different from what its description suggested!).

With 14 black teas, 12 green teas, 6 white teas, and a number of tisanes to boot, I was certainly not short on options. However, one tiny discrepancy that caught my attention was that they lumped their only oolong—Tie Guan Yin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy—in with the green teas, which in my book is a bit of a tea faux pas.

A categorisation discrepancy aside, their tea selection was enticing. Wanting to try something different from my usual tea preferences, I decided on a flavoured green tea called ‘Wanderlust”. I am not usually that partial to flavoured green teas, especially since I am not really a fruity tea person (most flavoured green teas involve some sort of fruit). But “Wanderlust” caught my attention because, although it uses apple, the fruit is combined with cinnamon and almond. Curious to see whether the spices and nuts tipped the balance of flavours in my favour, I ordered a pot. I was not disappointed. The apple flavour was still prevalent, but it was a fruity undertone rather than an overtone, and the cinnamon and almond came through nicely. What is more, it came served in a good-sized pot, complete with a strainer to prevent leaf fragments making their way into my cup.

Tasty tea, a good selection of teawares, and a nice atmosphere—I am certainly looking forward to returning to Yumchaa to see whether their other teas meet the standards set by this visit.

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