My friend and I took tea today in a place not unlike heaven.
We went in, deposited our worries in a small black bowl (literally, via a pebble in a black bowl) and sat down to the most transcendental experience of our lives.
We were lucky enough to get a table at chaya teanamu tea house. Not only is it hidden away down a little street and behind a wall so that you can hear birds rather than traffic, it is also totally unexpected.
Greeted with tea paraphernalia complex enough to baffle, on tiny delicate tables half-obscured in the afternoon light, it felt more like the house of a zen alchemist or a temple than a cafe.
My friend ordered a Rose tea, and I ordered the sweetly named Organic Golden Monkey, the oxidised tea leaves strewn through it like the hairs of a little red monkey, true enough.
The proprietor guided us through the various pourings and warmings of the tea ceremony, explaining the significance of each vessel as we went along. He was fascinating and friendly, making a prosaic experience magical without any element of pretention.
Both teas were delicious, smooth and subtle: mine had caramel and marmalade undertones, and the rose tea was fresh and perfumed without being overwhelming. You were allowed as many brews as you wished, the magical constantly-boiling kettle on our table refilled without us even having to ask.
As if the generosity of the tea refills, the quality and the service hadn’t already made the experience incredble, the food was delicious.
Tiny scones, served with delicate rose petal jam and clotted cream, and, as we had come in close to closing, a beautiful purple yam sweetmeat which was moist and more-ish.
Everything was beautiful and dainty without being fussy or twee, and we surmised that it might be the living room of the owner’s house, but we aren’t entirely sure.
We left feeling as if we had meditated for an hour or had a massage, rather than a cup of tea.
The tranquility of the surroundings, the elegance of the interior, the detail – from clay teapots to the soft music in the background- and the service were all unsurpassed and resulted in an incredible experience.
Now, all-importantly, the price: £5.50. Less than you spend getting something swift and impersonal from a chain. It is incredible value and I cannot believe we were lucky enough to find it (all credit to my friend).
They are often busy, as they should be, so make sure you book in advance. They sit a pleasant stroll away from Notting Hill Gate tube:
chaya teahouse location
14a st lukes road
(lancaster road) notting hill
london w11 1dp
Please go. Its rather wonderful and far, far cheaper than therapy.