It’s the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, yet tea is rarely given center stage. However, more and more restaurants, bars and hotels around the world are extending their tea lists beyond the classic English Breakfast or Oolong to accommodate for customers who can’t or don’t wish to drink alcohol or coffee, and to follow in the footsteps of venues that are rapidly gaining in popularity due to their tea menus.
While venues in Australia, America, and the UK would once only offer a few tea options at the end of their drinks list, many are now catching up with the likes of China, Japan, Morocco, and Turkey who have been serving tea as part of the main event for hundreds of years. For many, tea may still be sadly wasted as an afterthought on a drinks list, but with some of the world’s top restaurants turning tea into a fine art, this beverage is proving itself to be anything but average.
1. Club Gascon - London
A Michelin-starred French restaurant, Club Gascon introduced an extensive specialty tea menu with optional pairings last year, and have since seen a 400 per cent increase in tea sales. While the venue always had tea on their drinks menu, they originally only sold the basics. By extending their tea options and offering pairings with meals, they not only diversified their menu - the venue also saw an impressive profit almost immediately. Customers at Club Gascon are introduced to their tea choice by the venue’s tea sommelier, touching on its origin and tasting notes, and tea is then served using a unique tea ceremony.
2. Hopetoun Tea Rooms - Melbourne
One of the most beloved pit stops in Australia for those who love a cuppa, Hopetoun Tea Rooms boasts almost 30 teas on its impressive drinks menu. The venue is so revered by locals and tourists alike that it usually has extensive wait lists to book in for afternoon tea. Their tea list is extraordinary not only because it features blends based on teas from around the world, but because it places a strong focus on using local ingredients and showcasing Indigenous Australian teas. Using plants and herbs like gumbi gumbi, wattleseed, and lemon myrtle, the venue adds a unique twist to their tea menu, and challenges conceptions around what tea should taste like.
3. Nakajima no Ochaya - Tokyo
Located in Hamarikyu Gardens overlooking a pond, Nakajima no Ochaya is the one of the most famous spots in Tokyo, and has been open since 1704 (with a few renovations under its belt!). It’s one of the most popular teahouses to enjoy a cup of matcha in, and traditional tea ceremonies are still held regularly. Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in Japan, and green tea is usually top of the list. It was originally made available in the 700s as a medicinal beverage, and tea ceremonies were created as the drink became more popular.
4. Eleven Madison Park - New York City
Known as one of the best restaurants in the world and winner of many different accolades in the food industry, Eleven Madison Park considers their tea service to be an integral part of the dining experience - equal to any other beverage choice. With a tea sommelier on board to talk through the twenty plus teas that the venue offers, the venue encourages customers to taste and drink their blends both during and after meals, and offers information on the best pairings. The restaurant - and their tea sommelier, Chris Day - are considered to be pioneers in tea service in the Western world.
5. Tassa de The - Mumbai
India sits closely behind China as one of the largest producers of tea in the world, and is famous for one of its biggest exports: masala chai. Tassa de The takes India’s tea reputation and showcases it as dramatically as possible. Their menu boasts over 300 different teas, with every original blend created by its owner, and food that is infused with different types of tea. Tea sommeliers at the venue recommend brews based on the customer’s mood, palette, and even according to any ailments they might be suffering from.
6. Vue de Monde - Melbourne
One of the very few Australian restaurants yet to take on a tea sommelier, Vue de Monde is leading the charge with a tea service led by an expert in the soothing brew. With over 40 teas on the menu, the venue’s tea sommelier, Thibaut Chuzeville, guides customers through potential pairings with their meals, and offers up origins and tasting notes on each tea. Teas are carefully sourced from around the world, including rare brews including puer from China’s Yunnan province. Each tea is then brewed specifically according to its type.
While cities like Melbourne and New York are known for their coffee scenes it seems, for many restaurants, tea has been quietly brewing away on the menu for some time. For those who have decided to delve into the diverse world of tea leaves, benefits have been pouring in. So, perhaps it’s time to give the humble cup of tea some more serious consideration.
Want to learn more about the world of tea? Keep an eye out for our upcoming Tea Fundamentals course led by Nathan Wakeford, Founder of Somage Fine Foods - the company supplying tea to venues including Vue de Monde! Sign up to Typsy on an annual plan to get two months FREE!
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