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The Tea House
020 7240 7539

15a Neal Street
Covent Garden, London
The Tea House Neal Street location map     Map ©Silvermaze Ltd 2008
The Tea House

The Tea House
Everything associated with tea

The Tea HouseThe 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 rear yard.

The tea house interiorChristina Smith who started The Tea House did so because she saw teas being marketed to tourists with Beefeater clichés and 'Royalty flummery'.  

"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.

More importantly her range of teas was chosen with flair and imagination long before the retail trade noticed a trend in anything but the standards.

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 the tea'.

he 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 and character.

I make no apology for claiming this inexplicable feel as terribly British.


To order your tea please
020 7240 7539
or visit their website;

© 2009 Updated 9th Mar 2016
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