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Enjoying an afternoon tea next to the Tower Bridge

London experiences

What’s the tea? A tea guide to London

A cup of tea is part of British culture, and there’s no better city than London to learn more about this much-loved brew. London embraces a tea culture that stretches from the ship that raced to bring Brits the freshest leaves from China to today’s thriving afternoon tea scene in the tearooms of London. With us, you can master the art of drinking the perfect cup of tea in our guide to the best tea place in London. 


Twinings on The Strand

Let’s start with the oldest tea house in London. The Twinings flagship store is at 216 The Strand and has been serving customers a fine cup of the famous brew for over 300 years. Thomas Twining bought Tom’s Coffee House here in 1706 and decided the way to stand out from the thousands of other established coffeehouses in London was to sell tea. This drink was expensive but fashionable and appealed particularly to women, so his tea was an instant hit among the upper classes. 


Today, the same store looks thoroughly modern, but in some ways, it’s the same – you browse tea blends, try a few and take away a blend. The best feature here is its tea bar where you can try four or five favourite fresh teas or sample something different. There’s also a Pick & Mix wall where you can create your own tea selection and take it home in a wooden Twinings tea box. 


The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason

For a fancy afternoon tea in the fanciest spot, visit Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012, it serves the quintessential London afternoon tea. Picture a three-tiered tray of finger sandwiches, the clinking of Champagne glasses and a steaming fine-bone china teapot, ready to pour. It reflects the original 19th-century afternoon tea, between 3pm and 5pm – the upper classes’ little pick-me-up between lunch and dinner.


For afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason, it’s worth dressing up. It has an extensive menu catering to different dietary needs and tastes. High tea, a little later in the day and with more food, is also available. Whichever tea you choose, do remember to use the strainer when you pour to catch the leaves. 


The Cutty Sark

This is London’s grandest tea clipper and a brilliant place to visit to find out how tea first arrived in London. From its maiden voyage to Shanghai in 1870 to today, the Cutty Sark has plenty of sea tales to tell. From the great tea races and smuggling gangs in the Victorian era to its years in Australia and as a cadet training ship in the 20th century. 


The Cutty Sark was finally dry docked, restored and transformed into an important historic attraction in the 1950s and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1957. Today, it’s one of London’s most popular tourist attractions. You can explore the main deck, try out the cabins and take in the impressive London views. There’s even a special afternoon tea under the copper-clad hull. 


Postcard Teas

This handsome 18th-century tearoom in London’s Mayfair has an abundance of rare teas from Asia. Whether you browse the shelves or book a table for its regular Saturday morning tea tasting, Postcard Teas is a calm oasis with world tea expert Tim D’Offay and his staff happy to guide you through the leaves. 


Postcard Teas ensures each tea and blend carries the tea maker’s name and location, so you can know more about the plant’s origin and the people who make it. The company also only imports tea from small farms of less than 15 acres, supporting small growers, the local economy and the environment. There’s a personal touch to the tea you buy here, with each tea sale including a vintage postcard. Definitely a shop for the tea connoisseur. 


The Lounge at The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Looking for a refined afternoon tea experience? The Lounge at The Royal Horseguards Hotel is our recommendation for you. Savour a selection of traditional finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and a tempting array of sweet treats. Pair it all with a choice of fine teas or a glass of Champagne for a truly luxurious experience in the heart of London. The sophisticated ambiance and impeccable service make The Lounge the perfect setting for a memorable afternoon tea experience. If you enjoy the exquisite afternoon tea there, you'll find that The Tower and The Cumberland provide a similarly enchanting cup of tea that is sure to impress.

Get more London afternoon tea recommendations here, and you can enjoy our own afternoon teas at The Clermont, Victoria and The Clermont, Charing Cross. We offer luxurious stays in our hotels with plenty of classic style in the centre of London.