The World's Best Tea Shops

Tea Shops: Camellia's Tea House; London
Photo: Photo courtesy of Camellia's Tea House

Tea drinking is a centuries-old practice with a rich history steeped in tradition. Fine purveyors across the world are enhancing the experience by offering tasting salons within their retail shops. Here, tea company boutiques that master the celebration of this ancient art.—Megan Murphy

01 of 16

Samovar Tea Bar; San Francisco

Jesse Jacobs of Samovar Tea Bar
Photo © James Chiang

Over the past 12 years, Jesse Jacobs has traveled the world, working with farmers to source tea leaves to serve at his four Samovar lounges in San Francisco. But after spending most of last year in Hawaii helping upstart growers find their footing, he got a creative recharge and decided to rethink how he sells tea. At his newest Samovar, Jacobs and his staff prepare tea in glass crucibles he created with brewing-tech company Alpha Dominche. These devices, controlled by an Android tablet, make one cup at a time, with water calibrated to the proper temperature for each type of tea (140 degrees for a Japanese first flush, 195 for herbal). Counterbalancing the technology are artisanal designs, like the ceramic cups from Oakland, California's Atelier Dion: "They're unglazed on the outside so you can get a feel for raw chalk or stone," Jacobs says. "I want to convey tea as substantial instead of precious and dainty. And why can't tea be that way? The cups have a very strong heft to them." 411 Valencia St.;

02 of 16

Mariage Frères; Paris

Tea Shops: Mariage Frères; Paris
Photo © French Tea Flammarion

With one of the most elaborate selections in the world, this prestigious Parisian emporium showcases an apothecary-style wall of more than 600 aromatic varieties—all innovative and unparalleled in quality. Gourmands can savor the ultimate haute cup of tea (like the Coup De Soleil vanilla black tea blend with caramel and wild strawberry essence), alongside exquisite French cuisine and tea-scented delights.

03 of 16

Hu Xin Ting Teahouse; Shanghai

Tea Shops: Hu Xin Ting Teahouse; Shanghai
Photo © Dr. Luis A. Zugno

Situated in the middle of a koi-filled lake, this famous Shanghai landmark (known as the first teahouse in China) has a rich 145-year history. Tea aficionados must journey across a zigzag bridge and often fight crowds to experience Hu Xin Ting's classic green, jasmine and floral teas; sweet and savory delicacies, breathtaking scenery and weekly musical performances.

04 of 16

't Zonnetje; Amsterdam

Tea Shops: 't Zonnetje; Amsterdam
Photo courtesy of T'Zonnetje

't Zonnetje has been selling tea, coffee and spices (thee, koffie en kruiden) to the people of Amsterdam since 1642. Showcasing antique wares and an extensive tea selection, this charming retail shop features an upstairs salon serving accompaniments like Jodenkoeken (a traditional Dutch shortbread) and English marmalade.

05 of 16

Wang De Chuan; Taipei, Taiwan

Tea Shops: Wang De Chuan; Taipei, Taiwan
Photo courtesy of Tapei Travel

This century-old, family-owned shop strives to reinvent tea culture with a fresh take on Taiwanese tradition. Sleek and contemporary, the latest outlet steeps the four major categories—green, verdant, red and black—of Chinese tea, and serves richly flavored milk tea, a unique cold-brew tea and freshly baked pastries.

06 of 16

Yumchaa Soho; London

Tea Shops: Yumchaa Soho; London
Photo © Yumchaa

Driven by the desire to "create tea (chaa) that tastes yum," this quirky London-based purveyor and tea salon sticks firmly to the no-bag policy and only curates quality, loose-leaf varieties. Yumchaa's specialty handcrafted blends incorporate Old World romance with New World flavors, such as the zesty Chai Red, aromatic Raspberry Vanilla or spicy Chilli Chilli Bang Bang.

07 of 16

Perch's Tea Room; Copenhagen

Tea Shops: Perch's Tea Room; Copenhagen
Photo courtesy of Perchs

Built in 1835, A.C. Perchs is one of the oldest tea stores in the world. Above the cherished shop in central Copenhagen is a serene second floor tearoom, where you can sip more than 130 high-quality varieties—several inspired by prominent Danish citizens, such as the Prince of Denmark blend or the Fairytale flavor in honor of Hans Christian Andersen.

08 of 16

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique; Singapore

Tea Shops: TWG Tea Salon & Boutique; Singapore
Photo © TWG Tea

Regarded as an international tea institution, TWG (The Wellness Group) is a collection of premium retail outlets and exquisite tearooms across the globe. The high-end flagship salon in Singapore offers patrons a fine collection of harvest teas and exclusive blends, along with signature tea-infused delicacies and handmade pâtisseries in a luxurious setting.

09 of 16

Harney & Sons; Soho, New York City

Tea Shops: Harney & Sons; Soho, New York City
Photo courtesy of Harney & Sons

Specializing in gourmet tea since 1983, Harney & Sons is a family-run American company headquartered in Millerton, New York. Now an international powerhouse, the company produces and distributes the finest-quality loose teas and tisanes, along with organic and certified kosher products. The trendy Soho shop offers more than 250 varieties at the tasting bar, along with monthly classes.

10 of 16

Ippodo; Kyoto, Japan

Tea Shops: Ippodo; Kyoto, Japan
Photo courtesy of Ippodo

For nearly 300 years, Ippodo Tea Company has been producing the highest-quality Japanese green teas. Now, its carefully cultivated premium varieties are available at retail locations worldwide. Ippodo's main store, in the heart of Kyoto, also features the on-site Kaboku tearoom and hands-on workshops to encourage learning about Japanese tea culture.

11 of 16

DavidsTea; Canada (multiple locations)

Tea Shops: DavidsTea; Canada (multiple locations)
Photo courtesy of DAVIDsTEA

These colorful, modern shops across Canada and the US offer a tea experience that is fun, fresh and welcoming. With the largest collection of organic teas and infusions in North America, DavidsTea steeps more than 150 delicious types including exclusive blends, premium green teas and whimsical dessert creations like Red Velvet Cake and the minty chocolate Read My Lips.

12 of 16

Bellocq Tea Atelier; Brooklyn

Tea Shops: Bellocq Tea Atelier; Brooklyn
Photo © Bellocq Tea Atelier

Following the success of its London outpost, this award-winning purveyor and atelier relocated to Greenpoint. Bellocq's unique selection includes fine pure and organic teas, woody pu-erhs, and handcrafted artisan blends like the smoky Gypsy Caravan with Indian and Chinese black teas, rose and chile, or the fragrant Hindu Holiday with South African rooibos, ginger, cassia and cardamom.

13 of 16

Rooibos Teahouse; Clanwilliam, South Africa

Tea Shops: Rooibos Teahouse; Clanwilliam, South Africa
Photo courtesy of Rooibos Teahouse

This charming Clanwilliam shop is the world's only teahouse serving exclusively rooibos (tea cultivated from plants grown on South Africa's lush western cape). The shop boasts more than 100 rich blends—in sweet, spicy, fruity, floral and herbal categories. Select five flavors to sample during an hour-long tasting session, or pick a pot to savor in the on-site garden.

14 of 16

Palais des Thés; Belgium (and worldwide)

Tea Shops: Palais des Thés; Belgium (and worldwide)
Photo © Alex Kotlik

With more than two dozen shops throughout the world, Palais des Thés is a powerhouse purveyor with an exceptional boutique in Brussels. You can sip classic loose varieties, small batch grand crus and famous signature blends such as Thé Du Hammam green tea with roses, dates, berries and orange flower water, or Thé Des Amants black tea spiced with ginger, cinnamon and vanilla.

15 of 16

MingCha Tea House; Hong Kong

Tea Shops: MingCha Tea House; Hong Kong
Photo courtesy of MingCha

MingCha is a globally recognized brand of authentic, handcrafted Chinese tea. Known as a hidden gem in Hong Kong, this teahouse offers traditional tastings, workshops and events in a sleek, industrial setting. MingCha's selection of premium blends and varieties include reds, blacks, greens and fragrant oolongs such as the award-winning Mandarin Orchid.

16 of 16

Camellia's Tea House; London

Tea Shops: Camellia's Tea House; London
Photo courtesy of Camellia's Tea House

The English heritage of tea drinking, along with the beverage's healing properties, are celebrated at this quirky British salon. Camellia's showcases more than 100 healthy tea blends and handmade herbal infusions, along with darling teaware and accessories sourced from all over the world. The famous afternoon tea service features artisan sweets, scones and finger sandwiches.

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