Yumchaa – cosy tea house
My friends commonly refer to me as a ‘tea snob’, a fact I am somewhat proud of. I would usually elect to drink tap water rather than ‘normal tea’ (aka English breakfast) and when I am offered a cup, my first question is: “What kind do you have?” My kitchen cupboard is a tea haven, and my rules are: Never any milk or sugar, just pure, unadulterated goodness.
I am always on the lookout for nice tea houses and shops, and my favourite one for the past few years has been The Coffee House in St Andrews, where I spent 4 years raiding their shelves for jewels such as ginger, Japanese cherry blossom and my favourite, the king of teas, Darjeeling. I haven’t been able to find a place in London that comes close, as Whittard’s is a little too upmarket for my taste and doesn’t seem personal enough. But then I discovered Yumchaa!
I found out about Yumchaa via this article, and when I contacted them, they very kindly offered me a tea tasting at their tea house near Goodge Street. I spent a couple of hours there this morning and came back home feeling wonderfully calm and rested. And by pure coincidence, my flatmate came home a little later from a trip to Camden market and excitedly told me she’d bought some tea… from the Yumchaa in Camden market! Great minds…
When I arrived for my tasting today, I tried the Gentle Giant brew first, which has jasmine, ginger and ginseng root with a base of pai mu tan white tea. It was unlike anything I’d ever tasted but it was wonderful and mild, with very little caffeine. Then, I had a pot of Darjeeling, which was just wonderful – I couldn’t stop myself from murmuring ‘mmmhhh’ after the first sip (luckily, nobody heard me!). I wanted to buy both these teas when I left, but unfortunately, they had run out of Darjeeling and only had an enormous packet of Gentle Giant leaves, which at £8 was a bit much, especially as I don’t think I could drink that much in less than 2 years! I will definitely go back next week though, as I am always looking to restock my tea tray.
As I work for a firm that encourages remote working, I will definitely be visiting Yumchaa in the future. It is calm and peaceful, and I really want to try the other 35-odd teas, plus the delicious-looking sandwiches and cakes that I didn’t have room for today!
So here is my list of reasons why Yumchaa is a great place for a tea lover. Sometimes, it’s really the little things that make all the difference…
- Their teapot-cup contraption makes sure the cup is kept warm
- They have all their teas open in little containers, so you can smell them before you make your choice (the place in St Andrews never let me smell teas for ‘health and safety purposes’!)
- It is cosy and has a calm atmosphere, without being too pretentious or hipster
- They offer not just milk and sugar, but also honey and nutmeg with your tea
- The service is friendly and knowledgeable (did you know that white tea is weaker than green or black because it’s the first pick of the plantation, and doesn’t go through any processing?)
- They only put one spoonful of tea leaves into the pot, avoiding the nasty bitter taste at the bottom of the pot
I loved the peaceful feeling I had whilst sitting in Yumchaa, and it gave me the opportunity to just sit quietly and read my book. These quiet moments are few and far between in a bustling city like London, and I’m going to make sure I create them for myself more often in the future.