The Association of British Travel Agents has come up with the helpful statistic that 1.7 million Britons will be jetting off this long Easter weekend for warmer or else properly-snowy-with-epic-ski-conditions climates.
Alas, that 1.7 million does not include me. London temperatures hover a few degrees above zero, my parka continues to dominate my wardrobe, and my attempt to have an outdoorsy Camden adventure ended pretty much as soon as I stepped off the 29 bus.
As any sensible Londoner would tell you, there is only one thing to do in these types of situations – drown your lack of travel sorrows in your nearest tea shop. Armed with a good book and a ready sweet tooth, I headed over to Yumchaa, my personal favorite (yum+chaa = drink+tea in Cantonese. Don’t mind if I do!)
I first discovered Yumchaa tea at a stall in Spitalfields Market, when I brought some Raspberry Vanilla tea home to try. They have a few physical stores: one near Goodge Street, one in Soho and two in Camden. The one on Camden Parkway is easiest for me to get to (though a word of caution, at first glance the exterior still looks like the pub the building used to be). All locations very similar, and are the perfect place to stay awhile with friends or the beginnings of your next great literary essay.
Inside, you’ll find hipster teens, liberal arts students and families of four, all sprawled out on a melange of thrown-together-on-purpose furniture. Patterned wallpaper, mirrors and old tea packages compliment a mix of tables and chairs: wood, aluminium, thick leather, take your pick (actually, not really, take the first open seat you see!) My eyes widen just a little whenever I enter a Yumchaa, and I’m always convinced I’m going to have to sit on the floor with my tray balancing on my knees, but somehow a spot always manages to free up by the time I’m done ordering.
Yumchaa has a whole range of white, green, red and black teas to choose from, with helpful samples laid out at the counter to help you make up your mind (though I do often find myself just standing there determined to smell them all, to the annoyance of the person behind me). I ordered Blueberry Hill tea with a slice of chocolate velvet cake, thinking the fruitiness would balance out the chocolate. When I went to pay, though, I was informed that they were out, and I immediately defaulted to my very favorite – Caramel Sweetheart. SUGAR. RUSH. Ah well, what are Easter weekends for?
Hope everyone is having a very warm bank holiday 🙂