Taking time for a cuppa is an ancient ritual rooted in mindfulness. It should be a moment to stop and fully savour the aromas and flavours of the brew in front of you. And we don’t mean a cup of PGTips’ finest! Here’s our top five ways to properly experience the power of tea…
1 Visit Katsute 100 Take a break, Japan-style, in an atmospheric teahouse just opened in North London’s tucked-away Camden Passage in Islington. Katsute 100 prepares all kinds of brew, from pickled cherry blossom to a Shiso leaf or vegetable infusion that’s more akin to a soup, as well as proffering delectable matcha tartlets and other sweet pastries. The only caveat is you have to go in person. No website! 100 Islington High Street, London N1 8EG. But they do have an Instagram account. Katsute 100
2 Invest in a traditional Chinese tea set Master tea maker Jing is brings the traditional Chinese tea ceremony (or gong fu cha) into the modern age with this white porcelain ‘Tea Master’ set. It includes a gaiwan, a lidded pot that allows you to watch the tea leaves unfurl as they stew, and a matching cup; the small vessels encouraging quick, full-flavoured infusions. As Jing’s creative director David Hepburn puts it, ‘In today’s hyper-connected world, tea is a way for people to enjoy a moment of calm focus, away from distraction. It’s a stimulating and engaging ritual to enjoy every day.’ The ‘Tea Master’ is available as a set for solo drinking, £48, or add on another sharing cup for £8. www.jingtea.com
3 Have cake with your tea Sketch, the restaurant with the statement art-strewn, bubble-gum pink interior that’s a collaboration between British artist David Shrigley and Paris-based architect and designer India Mahdavi, offers a wonderful afternoon tea including a sweet selection of finger sandwiches with fillings like ricotta and cucumber, egg mayonnaise with fried quail eggs and caviar, and warm mozzarella and pesto croque monsieurs, all to be washed down with a delicate selection of teas, think ‘Silver Needle’, a light, delicate fruity brew with notes of cucumber and melon, to Lapsang, typically smoky, moody and deep in flavour. Not forgetting an impressive assortment of desserts including the ‘Sketch Opera’: a chocolate cake with caramel. Classic afternoon tea: £58 per person.
4 Buy a new kettle Because it’ll just make the preparation that much more enjoyable. And besides, we think this is the world’s most beautiful electric kettle. Created by Danish duo Sebastian Holmbäck and Ulrik Nordentoft for Stelton, the ‘Emma’ comes in a choice of pale blue-grey or dark steel grey, with a tactile curved beech handle and neat toggle switch. The collection also includes a matching vacuum jug, wooden tray and stoneware accessories so that you can coordinate your tea break. £139, Stelton
5 Check out The Barbican’s major new spring show, The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 and experience a real-live teahouse built for the show in-situ by master architect Terunobu Fujimori. Collaborating with students from Kingston University, this will be his biggest tea-house built to date, and featuring a hand-charred timber frame and white plaster interior, it’ll be the venue for tea ceremonies performed throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Watch a short video of its installation in the gallery here…
Plus, you could pick up a limited-edition copy of our exclusive Japanese House Collector’s Cover of the April issue of ELLE Decoration, featuring Fujimori’s iconic Tetsu teahouse, exclusively for sale in The Barbican shop only. The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945, 23 March to 25 June 2017. Book tickets here.
And see our pick of the best teapots from beautiful basics to blow the budget buys here