Finally it feels like Spring! The warm breeze lifts my spirits and eases the tension out of my winter bones. It also reminds me of wonderful summer days in Europe where we drove through alpine valleys, ate delicious local seafood in Italian lake towns and cheered as the Tour de France whizzed past!
I loved having the opportunity to explore European tea culture. We visited tea houses wherever we found them and I thought I would share two of my favourites.
The Postcard tea shop is in the middle of busy London, just around the corner from Soho. You step into an oasis of calm, a quiet contrast to the bustle outside. At times it was even a little too quiet, some music would have created more atmosphere, but I wasn’t there for my ears, I was there to taste!
Timothy d’Offay is extremely well traveled and knows pots about tea and the wonderful processes that bring it from tree to cup. Pick his brain with your tricky tea questions or enjoy learning about his travels to bring the best tea from around the world back to London.
The tea menu is extensive, with most of the tea sourced direct from small estates, selected for its quality or unique characteristics. They also have a Tea Masters range which show off the skill and passion of experienced tea masters from China and Japan. I was so excited tasting I forgot to write down the names of the tea, however you can’t really go wrong with this selection and the staff are on hand to guide your choice.
One of the coolest things about the Postcard tea shop is that you can choose a tea, taste it, take it home in an artistically unique canister AND send a packet to a friend as a postcard! They have you covered, you simply pay a little extra for postage and they send it off for you. I sent one home so it would welcome us on our return.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Prague has a vibrant tea culture. People go to tea houses at all times of the day to sit and chat over pots of tea, rather than a cup of coffee. There are tea houses dotted around the city, and we loved this one.
If you follow the right alley of Wencelas Square you will find Dobrá čajovna, which translates from Czech as ‘Good Tea’. The atmosphere is eastern zen blended with middle eastern mystique.
The menu is huge, a big book of a thing, with excellent descriptions of the teas as well as recommended brewing times and tasting notes. They also offer snacks and if it takes your liking you can smoke a hookah.
The tea comes with a pot of hot water on a candle warmer so you can be self-sufficient with your washes. They were happy to refill our water as many times as we wanted. In fact we completely lost track of time, sitting outside on a bright afternoon, sipping tea and discussing plans for tea projects in Australia.
When you have finished tasting you can buy your favourites to take home. But nothing quite compares to sipping tea in a tea house.