|The British taste for tea
is associated with tennis lawns and cucumber sandwiches and a well
earned break from work. Tea has to be 'just right' to
be comforting and refreshing. And then it really is.
A cup of tea is the universal offer of hospitality and in most British
homes it goes further than that. The first cup in the morning is a part
of waking up, it is a peace offering after an argument, a restorative
after an accident, and an essential accompaniment to many a
conversation. Most people now have several varieties on offer in smart
jars and boxes so it is also a symbol of status. It is even a bandwagon
upon which celebrities travel.
How do you like yours?
The cheap teabag of late last century is on the wane according to
retail statistics, while loose teas, rare teas and herbal infusions
(often referred to as 'tea') are waxing like a new moon. We Brits love
our tea - or as it now appears - teas.
There is a place in Covent Garden where you can buy teas with the
widest range imaginable. The Tea House, established in 1982 is a great
success. A few Christmases ago the shop had to close three times during
the day due to overcrowding until finally a queue was organised in the
Smith who started The Tea House did so because she saw teas being
marketed to tourists with Beefeater clichés and 'Royalty
"We want people to like what we are offering instead of simply buying
products aimed directly at the touristy trade"
Why tea? She wanted to show tea in clean stylish surroundings,
complimented with merchandise from the countries where tea is grown.
She chose a range of simple standard teapots of the same design as an
alternative to quirky 'collectables' far from 'heritage'. her pot
with Che Guevara is very popular as they all are.
importantly her range of teas was chosen with flair and imagination
long before the retail trade noticed a trend in anything but the
She has also played down anything touristy in packaging. The Tea house
pack the tea themselves and the shop carries the aroma of whatever tea
is being packed at the time. When entering the shop people notice a
'tea rush' which is distinctive evidence of the fact that tea is fresh
enough to deliver the best of flavour.
Each tea is packaged as suitable for the characteristic of the tea
itself. Some are dense and others light with large leaves that need
simply a bigger bag. Somehow a 'standard pack' does not work for all
types. Christina still experiments with bags made of different
materials. They all represent her wish that 'people can see and smell
shop itself is probably the most photographed shop in Covent
Garden. She has long term relationships with her suppliers who keep
telling her that she should be 'branding her shop and style all over
the place' however she has no wish to be the 'body shop' of tea
suppliers. This is probably because her success is based on something
personal and intangible that is due to her own instinct for quality.
Christina sells what she likes herself and her knowledge about what is
charming - with even a touch eccentricity - is because she observes the
customers at times when she serves them herself and is quick to give
them what pleases them. How can you brand that?
The Tea House is truly representative of the very reason people come to
Covent Garden and Soho. No chain or large organisation that runs along
the 'bottom line' for the benefit of their shareholders could possibly
deliver what it is about the whole ethos. It is the whole idea that
makes a shop like this draw the people to get the 'rush' of originality
I make no apology for claiming this inexplicable feel as terribly
To order your tea please
telephone 020 7240 7539
or visit their website;