As a big fan of tea, it's often hard to find a good place to visit for a pot of brew to help wind down, and I'm too often bitterly disappointed with the bog standard English Breakfast tea in most cafés. Help is at hand though if you favour loose tea leaves with a taste that packs a punch, in the form of a little tea shop called Yumchaa - yum cha simply meaning 'drink tea' in Cantonese. There's a branch in Camden, however there's another quaint dwelling on the corner of Berwick Street/Noel Street, where I happened to pass and promptly enter!
On first entering the shop I was taken by the displays of hearty cakes and muffins, until I gave a sharp double take when I caught a glimpse of the rows of teas on offer inside tiny-tiny milk jugs. But what's more is you can sample the tea options before you decide on what to drink, with nowt but your nose. At £2 a pot it's more than good value, with various infusions of black, green and fruit teas. I've enjoyed both the Regent's Park fruit tea and the Earl Grey Blue Star, but whichever takes your fancy you're equipped with a one cup teapot (though it generously gives 2), strainer and mini milk jug if you require it.
The decor is homely and calm but at the same time quite vintage with white-washed cabinets and heavy wooden tables, plus they always seem to be playing great music to fit the tone - Al Green and Otis Redding on my last visit. The staff are friendly and helpful if you're struggling with which tea to try, the Regent's Park tea was a recommendation of which was spot on. I'm yet to have tea with someone else at Yumchaa, but so far have enjoyed the experience of going on my own that I might find it a little less special to share. That may be selfish, but it's hard to find a great place to unwind with a book or paper.
Oh yes, those cakes I was on about....