We went down to London to visit some friends this weekend, and decided to go to Yumchaa for afternoon tea.
This was a … troubled trip, as the north of England had been flooded and there were lots of cancelled trains. For us this meant that we had to move our booking to 1 day later. There were no problems arranging this, as actually you don’t have to do bookings for this place. It’s quite laid back, with a refreshingly pleasant, casual feel about it (this coming from someone who absolutely adores the traditional tea room ways).
When you enter the Camden branch of this large London based chain, you are immediately struck by the adorable counter. All the teas they have are available for smell testing right at the entrance, and there is a nice range of sweets and sandwiches to go with your drink. Honestly, there are just so many teas, I was stood at the counter sniffing teas for a good couple of minutes – and nobody thought (or at least, said) I was a weirdo!
Maybe that’s because it’s Camden, but I think it’s also just the Yumchaa atmosphere. This tea room has a distinctive feel to it. Its decor is all wood, with subtle wallpaper and classic looking furniture. It was packed with students. And Mac books. Which marks this as a hipster café, and quite frankly, it pulls it off very well.
The staff is wonderful, and I felt a little bit bad as they were working so hard (it was quite busy), while also answering my questions about their products in detail and giving me personalised recommendations. These ladies behind the counter are very knowledgeable about their teas, so very friendly, and recommended a chocolate velvet log slice to go with my Russian Caravan.
We got the one spot at the window, so we could people watch in Camden – a thoroughly enjoyable pastime – but the table is just a tad too low for comfort. This problem is not the case for any of the other seats though, and frankly, the couch is so comfortable and the people watching so fun that you hardly notice the table at all.
The tea here is good. Very good, actually – so good that I bought 6 packets to bring home with me! The tableware is modern and functional, and we all received clear instructions on how to brew our blend.
My Russian Caravan was a blend with a base of Lapsang Souchong, giving it a very smoky character. Although it does have that peaty, whisky taste to it, it had just a teeny hint of freshness to it to set it apart. This is due to the Keemun, which is just a tad floral and has notes of cocoa, and the lighter nature of the Oolong, which made up the blend. As the lady at the till suggested, this tea goes very well with chocolate, but unfortunately the cake was a bit too dry.
That said, I had a wee bit of a haul due to the impressive quality of their teas, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours sipping and watching. I don’t go to London very often at all, but the next time I do I will make sure to go back to Yumchaa. And in the meanwhile, I can enjoy some at home.