You don’t have to go far to find a coffee shop in London (even a peaceful one). But a tea shop? Now that’s something special. Which is why I paid a visit to Piacha Tea Bar in Islington this week.
This tea bar and shop in Upper Street is a haven for tea drinkers. Their USP is tea done right — ‘unapologetically good tea’ as they put it — and owner Pia has an intimate knowledge of tea blends and brewing methods.
In my short chat with her she taught me many facts about tea, including how much to put in a pot (the ‘one teaspoon per cup’ rule is for a small cup not a mug, which is larger) and why some teabag brands are so much nicer (they have more tea leaves in the bag, so the tea is stronger). Her passion for creating her customers’ favourite Piacha blend is clear.
Their menu is pretty special, too: as well as a spread of imaginative blends of black, green (Pia recommended the Matcha Mint), oolong, white and herbal teas (apparently the Ginger Chilli blend is good for hangovers!) they also serve an impressive range of iced tea smoothies/milkshakes, muesli smoothies, hot chocolate and, yes, even coffee.
I’m a big fan of roobios tea (mainly owing to the fact that I go a bit nuts on caffeine, but also because it’s just yummy) so I was excited to try all three of Piacha’s roobios blends: first came rhubarb fudge, then cinnamon choc and finally berry hibiscus. All three were fantastic with deep, imaginative flavours but I loved the cinnamon choc so much that I couldn’t resist buying my own pack so that I can have it at home, too: perfect for winter!
And what’s a cup of tea without something on the side? Well, Piacha have that covered too: their food menu includes delicious healthy sandwiches (the herb and hummus is fresh and, like everything else, full of flavour) and indulgent cakes.
It’s all available to take away or enjoy in the mellow, atmospheric surroundings of the tea bar. Head downstairs to find a growing library of travel books to dip into while you put your feet up and enjoy your new favourite blend of tea.
As someone who feels left out in normal ‘convenient’ beverage shops where there seems an endless selection for coffee lovers but not even an ordinary roobios to speak of (seriously, coffee shops, you’re missing a trick) I loved the experience of drinking in a shop where tea-lovers come first. And why not? We all know how much us Brits love a good cuppa…
More information: piacha.co.uk
Opening times: Monday-Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday 10am-9pm
Nearest Tube: Highbury and Islington or Angel
Piacha kindly gave me two complimentary samples of their Roobios Choc Cinammon and Berry Hibiscus tea blends to try but, as ever, if I didn’t love them I wouldn’t have written about them.