1. Where to Buy Souvenir Teas
If you don't know a lot about tea but enjoy drinking it and would like to take tea home as a souvenir, I'd recommend checking Harrods, Fortnum & Mason or the Buckingham Palace shop as they have some wonderful tins that would look great in your kitchen for years.
2. Tea Palace
Tea Palace is a modern tea emporium in Covent Garden Piazza that offers a wide selection of quality teas and infusions. The shop stocks their whole range of teas and infusions, a wide selection of gifts, accessories, tea tasting, tea sachets, scented candles and much more.
There are always warm teas for you to taste in the basement and the staff are all knowledgeable so it's a good place for advice.
teanamu is small, independent tea supplier run by Pei Wang, a tea and Chinese culture expert, who enjoys sharing his knowledge of tea. He holds tea appreciation classes at Bea's of Bloomsbury - who serves his teas - and he has free tastings and a weekend chaya teahouse at his home in Notting Hill. I've enjoyed free tasting and tea cookery here and totally recommend the teas and the experience.
Address: 7/8 Conduit Street, (off Regent Street), London W1S 2XF
Twinings have had a tea shop on The Strand in London since 1717. The Strand shop stocks a wide range of specialty teas, fruit and herbal infusions, iced teas, and coffee blends, as well as gifts, teapots, cups, mugs, biscuits, cakes, and chocolates. There is also a small museum, which charts the history of the Twinings family, along with examples of tea caddies and more unusual items from the world of tea.
6. Tea Smith
Tea Smith, on the edge of Spitalfields Market, is a wonderful place to learn about tea and enjoy unusual tea options every day. The Teabar is where you can sit on high stool and watch the preparation. You receive two brews so don't worry that it doesnt look like much.
It's not English Breakfast here. Explore the world of delicate Whites, energising Greens, aromatic and complex Oolongs, and aged Puers.
It's a lovely calm space and all teas are available to take home too.
The Tea House on Neal Street in Covent Garden is a well-known landmark in the area. It must sell 100 tea varieties from around the world as well as associated tea paraphenalia. The novelty teapots remain a popular buy and the shop always smells nice, although it can be a bit dusty.
Drury Tea and Coffee Company is a family-owned business that started in London in 1936. Drury has a central London store where they slow roast their own coffee blends. They also employ their own tea tasters to ensure high standards. There are over 100 tea varieties available and they can be bought loose or in gift tea caddies. I've always found the staff very approachable and willing to offer advice to help you make a choice. The Covent Garden store has a wonderful smell from the coffee roasting (and I'm not even a coffee fan).
11. Borough Market
East Teas in Borough Market want to get us to ditch the tea bags and get back to enjoying loose leaf tea. They are a London-based company who source directly from teamakers, growers and suppliers in the country of origin, and they encourage their suppliers to use traditional methods and processes.
Tea2You is also at Borough Market and specializes in Darjeeling tea. Ratan imports the Darjeeling tea himself and loves to help customers choose the right Darjeeling for them. He also gives money to the St Mary's School in Darjeeling, India.
Whittards have many branches across London and the UK. They do have a wide variety of teas but it's all pre-packaged so you can't sniff and touch it before buying. They usually have nice packaging though and their Chinaware is always popular. They also stock great gift sets and their biscuits are worth checking too. Walter Whittard established his tea company back in 1886 so they have strong London tea connections.