I wrote about Teanamu back when I first started this blog. Pei warmly welcomed friend M and I to one of the monthly open houses of his online tea shop. Back then he was holding very close to his heart a dream of opening his very own tea house. The opening that came along within three months when he opened up a beautiful Chinese-style tea house on the lower floor of his Notting Hill home.
I don’t think there’s anything like it in London.
As I’ve said before, Pei could easily be London’s top tea guru. He knows everything there is to know about anything tea related. He has clearly studied it hard and has that deep personal interest that he can only do the world good by telling interested parties about the various types of tea and their benefits to the body, mind and soul.
Mr Man and I decided to pay a visit over the bank holiday weekend and arrived to a lovely welcome, like meeting an old friend again. We sat down at one of his five tables, all antique Chinese furniture similar to the type found in the tea houses I’d been to in China. There’s also the couch if you want to make yourself a bit more comfortable but Mr Man and I went for one of the more traditional settings – a table for two with a proper Chinese tea set in the middle.
We were asked to choose one tea from an extensive selection and then shown how to make it the proper way – different for each type we had (phoenix eye jasmine white, emperor 98 vintage pu erh and heritage tai luo han oolong). We had a lot of fun getting it wrong several times until things finally clicked into place.
Having previously tried Pei’s phenomenal cooking we couldn’t refuse combining the tea with some of his yum cha so went for the £9 menu which includes a choice of one savoury and three sweets.
The tea was just as nice as the previous time I went (though I think we still have a bit of work to go before we officially become tea snobs in loving the pu erh) but the food was something else. Every single bite was out of this world; you can tell that Pei has studied at Le Cordon Bleu.
The brownies that Mr Man had were the best I have ever tried anywhere (not sure if it’s the Chinese fruit he added or the perfect consistency of a slight crunch on top, soft and gooey in the middle) and the lychee black tea jelly with lime sorbet was outstanding. Mr Man’s scone was perfect and fluffy with gorgeous rose petal jam and the oolong macaron could have easily sold out in Laduree. What was most special however was his kueh tutu, a sweet from his childhood made of rice flour with coconut in the middle. Having spent my teenage years obsessed with Malaysian sweet coconut buns which I haven’t been able to find in eight years, these struck a note of nostalgia with me, and they were lovely.
We spent close to three hours there. Pei was the perfect host as always, the tea just kept on flowing and we were allowed to just relax and take our time. Mr Man enjoyed the tea so much that he suggested we do a big stock-up before we left. We went away with a new supply of oolong, one phoenix eye jasmine for us, the other for his Mum, lychee black tea (I’m going to attempt to make his jelly!), organic golden monkey black tea for afternoons spent on our new sofa and a tiny bit of pu erh as we might become become tea snobs one day.
If you’re in the Notting Hill area or just fancy an escape to something different for a weekend afternoon then I really do recommend that you pay Chaya Tea House a visit. It’s well worth the effort to get there, is the perfect escape from the crowds at Portabello Road and is definitely one of the cooler tea activities in London. Enjoy and say hi to Pei for me!
P.S. You can find Chaya Tea House here: http://www.teanamu.com/teahouse/