Every place I visit, I love to try a local blend of tea. I like tea in nearly every variety (I can’t get over the chunks in bubble tea) and have found some varieties that are worth lugging home in my backpack. While I grew up on sweet tea, made cold with plenty of sugar, I’ve grown fonder of a good cuppa, as it goes better with a book.
How could I write about tea without mentioning the biggest tea drinking culture in the world? English Breakfast Tea is my daily routine, so when I had the chance to visit the Twinings shop in London in November, I knew I would be bringing some home. I ended up buying their commemorative 2012 English Breakfast Tea in one of their signature tins. They also had a blend for the Queen’s Jubilee! I got there too late for one of the free tea tastings, but it’s well worth a visit!
- Twinings Tea Shop, 216 Strand, London, England
I was killing time before the Travel Bloggers Unite conference started when I struck up a conversation with one of my dorm mates, a girl from Lisbon. She suggested we visit the tea shop down the street from Gallery Hostel. I’m so thankful she spoke Portuguese because we were able to get menus and order some refreshing cold teas to counteract the hot afternoon. The shop had its own garden in the back where we sipped and chatted away. Inside the rooms are decorated in Chinese and Indian styles and they sell over 300 varieties of tea.
- Casa do Cha, Rua Miguel Bombarda, nº 457 , 4150-382 Porto, Portugal
You might not expect Salzburg to have a tea culture, but this caffeinated city is also home to Red Bull. During my visit, my friend Christine took me to Afro Cafe, owned by Red Bull, where I ordered their Cape Town blend, a floral and earthy variety. They brought out the tray you see above, complete with all the fixings plus a tea timer for perfectly steeped tea.
- Afro Cafe, Bürgerspitalplatz 5, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria
As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I needed an alternative for Australia’s famous coffee culture. Thankfully, I found T2 Teas in my favorite cafe, Post Cafe in Marrickville, and ordered it regularly during my year there. I became so obsessed with the Melbourne Breakfast Tea that I brought a large tin home and my friends Kelsi and Flo sent me more for my birthday! While you can order it in many cafes (with only a splash of milk and no sugar!), you should also buy yourself some to bring home at one of their many stores throughout the country, which are a tea lover’s wonderland.
- T2 Tea, 173 King Street, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia 2042
Charleston, South Carolina
My former home is the location of one of the last remaining tea plantations in America. Bigelow Tea now owns the plantation, but this Wadmalaw Island mainstay still produces its own blends of tea, most famously the American Classic Blend. Take a tour of the facility to see how tea goes from the fields to your cup. You also have the opportunity to try and purchase on site.
- Charleston Tea Plantation, 6617 Maybank Highway, Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina 29487, USA