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From traditional Chinese teahouses to lavish, luxurious affairs inspired by the classic tearooms of Europe, the Thai capital is well served with places for a soothing cup or two.
Tea culture is strong in Bangkok. As you might expect in a nation where ethnic Chinese make up a significant percentage (approximately 10%) of the population, there is no shortage of places that offer the full eastern teahouse experience – especially in Chinatown. That said, Thailand has developed a robust tea culture of its own, with varieties grown in the north of the country becoming more highly regarded. Popular too, are afternoon tea venues modelled on the salons of northern Europe.
There’s a contemporary feel to Double Dogs, with breezy service and on-point snacks making it feel less time-warped than some of the classic venues in and around Yaowarat Road – the main thoroughfare in Bangkok’s Chinatown. Nevertheless, there’s no doubting the authenticity of the venue, which homes in on traditional Japanese and Chinese tea varieties. Master brewers will whip you up a pot using plenty of tea leaves and a sparing amount of water. The result is a heady cup that is sure to be a hit with tea connoisseurs.
Thais rarely hide their admiration for the intricacies of Japanese culture, and there’s a detectable influence from the Land of the Rising Sun at many Bangkok teahouses. Indeed, it is writ large at Peace Oriental Teahouse (one of our favourites) in the Ekkamai neighbourhood. Owner Teerachai Limpapaitoon sources teas from various countries including Taiwan and China. But, with the focus on matcha green tea – try the incredible matcha ice cream – the Japanese vibe trumps all other influences. Also, spreading the green tea gospel is Tealily Café. Its matcha is sourced from Kyoto in Japan and is a key ingredient in sweet treats ranging from brownies to cookies.
Afternoon tea is huge in Bangkok. It’s has long integral part of the repertoire at famous five-star piles such as the St Regis and Mandarin Oriental, while newer salons in the city’s luxury malls combine premium teas with gourmet titbits and sweet treats to offer a rarefied interlude to any shopping trip. Indeed, so numerous are these European-style experiences that it is hard to pick out just a couple. For a western style afternoon tea, we are big fans of the offerings at 1823 Tea Lounge by Ronnefeldt. The famous German name offers four different sets for afternoon tea and delicacies, including everything from macarons to mini chocolate handbags. For a more English take on the ritual, try Twinings Tea Boutique at Central World. Here you’ll find superb tea blends by the British brand alongside crust-free sandwiches and scones with clotted cream.