For as long as time, England has been synonymous with tea. While there have been many articles written in the past few years citing the decline of traditional black tea drinkers, especially amongst younger generations, there has been a movement towards high-quality specialty, green, and flavored teas. A number of places have popped up offering alternatives to the more traditional afternoon teas at Fortum & Mason and the like, as well as independent boutique tea shops owned by passionate tea drinkers. Below are 5 tea experiences not to be missed.

1-sketchHead to sketch, a quirky renovated townhouse off Regent St, for afternoon tea. You can have the full afternoon tea in the Gallery (reservations required) or simply cream tea, a pot of tea and a scone served with clotted cream and jam, in the Glade or the Parlour. They source from Jing Tea based in London and their Vanilla Black and Green Teas are most popular. All jokes aside, make sure to use the bathroom and report back to let me know what you think.

2-yumchaaHave breakfast or take a break from touring at Yumchaa, ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese, for a cuppa. Yumchaa was born out of the desire to find high-quality loose leaf teas in London. They now have 5 shops and 6 stalls around the city. I popped into the Soho café and absolutely loved the display of teas in little white mugs to smell. They have over 40 blends of their signature teas! During the summer, try a refreshing frozen tea: a blend of tea, fruit, and ice. The ‘Mango mango’ was delicious!

3-tea2youBorough Market was one of my favorite stops in London! The indoor market near London Bridge is filled with food stalls ranging from organic produce and high-quality meats to truffles and freshly baked breads. Tucked in the back corner is Tea2You, a tea stall specializing in Darjeeling varieties from the Indian sub-continent. They do a wonderful job explaining the origins of the teas. I especially enjoyed their House Blend, a mix of Darjeeling and Assam.

4-bluebirdTake the train down to Brighton for a day to stroll through the seaside town. Make sure to stop at Bluebird in North Laines! They also have stores in Tunbridge Wells and Bristol. The company started in 2013 with a mission of ‘spreading happiness, one cupful at a time.’ They currently have over 80 varieties and focus on creating exciting flavors, think Strawberry Lemonade during the summer and Spiced Pumpkin Pie during the fall.

5-lucysI have never seen an area with more tearooms than the Cotswolds! Our favorite was Lucy’s in Stow-on-the-Wold. Stop in the cozy café for a cream tea or full afternoon tea. They serve a variety of high-quality specialty loose leaf teas from Jeeves & Jericho of Oxford.

Where is your favorite place for afternoon tea in England? Any other independent shops you’d add to the list?