Sipping tea is a centuries-old tradition that is steeped in rich cultural meaning. From afternoon tea in England to the matcha tea ceremony in Japan, and from the chai wallahs of India to the countless tea houses of China, there are no borders or boundaries when it comes to the tradition of drinking tea.
Although there are tens of thousands of teahouses and tea shops in existence, the locations below stand out among the most famous places to have tea around the world.
The Ritz (London, England)
Nobody does afternoon tea quite like the British, especially at The Ritz London. For travelers and tea aficionados seeking the quintessential afternoon tea experience in England, look no further than this iconic institution.
Tea is served in the elegant Palm Court, where a pianist serenades patrons with soothing melodies. Three-tiered platters piled high with decadent treats (scones, finger sandwiches, pastries and tarts) decorate every table, although the tea itself remains the highlight.
Choose from 18 excellent teas; the exceptionally knowledgeable staff is on-hand to share their expertise and offer recommendations if you are unsure.
Huxinting Teahouse (Shanghai, China)
Also known as Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, this historic building is a shining example of traditional Chinese architecture. It was constructed during the Ming Dynasty and is now the oldest continually operating teahouse in the city. Famous patrons of the Huxinting Teahouse include Queen Elizabeth II and Bill Clinton.
Huxinting Teahouse is located near Yu Garden in the Old City of Shanghai, and is situated on stilts in the middle of a goldfish-filled lake. Cross the zig-zag bridge (believed to deter evil spirits) to enter the teahouse and choose from a diverse selection of fine Chinese teas, such as dragon well and jasmine green tea.
Eastern & Oriental Hotel (Penang, Malaysia)
Although the scale of its tea production pales in comparison to nations like Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Malaysia shares a British colonial-era tea history with its Southeast Asian neighbors. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel hosts one of the most iconic afternoon teas in Malaysia, and the menu and decor is traditionally English.
Nibble on decadent petit fours and macaroons while enjoying the glamorous ambiance: crisp white linens, porcelain tea sets, and dancing candlelight. Choose from classic varietals such as Earl Grey and chamomile tea, or rely on the attentive staff to make a suggestion.
Okitsu Club (Kyoto, Japan)
Tea has been an integral part of Japanese culture for thousands of years, and the tradition of drinking tea is still alive and well across Japan. Okitsu Club—a traditional tea house located adjacent to the Kyoto Imperial Palace—is one of the most famous locations to experience the iconic Japanese tea ceremony using matcha green tea.
Okitsu’s villa setting is as elegant as it is peaceful—perfect for the discerning tea connoisseur. Visitors will also have the opportunity to participate in other aspects of Japanese culture, such as an incense ceremony and kimono dressing.
The Russian Tea Room (New York City, United States)
Considered to be one of the most exquisite tea rooms in the world, the Russian Tea Room has hosted celebrities and New York City’s elite for more than 80 years. This iconic venue prides itself on providing an opulent, over-the-top experience; walk through the antique doors and feast your eyes upon the red leather booths, 24-carat gold ceiling, and eclectic artwork.
The tea selection is just as dazzling: Assam black tea, British breakfast, and Rooibos Chai, just to name a few. Snack on traditional tea time desserts like petit fours and pastries, or opt for the decadent Russian blinis topped with caviar.
Any of these famous tea destinations are a worthy addition to your travel bucket list, but the good news is that there is no need to leave home to sample high quality teas from around the globe. The Republic of Tea is proud to offer the finest teas from China, Japan, India and more, available to sip from your own kitchen or garden. Find more inspiration here!