6th October, 2014

What better way to complement a day spent cycling or walking around London than to visit some of the capital's finest loose leaf tea shops? There's no drink more refreshing than a cup of tea. Here at The Carter Company, we are big fans of a proper pot of loose leaf tea, brewed to perfection, so we're proud to share with you some of our insider tips on the best shops to go and sample a cup and take away a bag or with you when you're done.

1. Postcard teas

This is very special shop in Mayfair run by a team hailing from England, Japan and China, who are real tea experts. Husband and wife Tim and Asako set up the shop together. Amazingly, Asako's father supplied tea to the Emperor of Japan and her grandfather was a tea growing pioneer who established fields in the Mount Fuji area. So she is real tea royalty!

The two reasons why this shop is so different and original are their focus on provenance (long before this was fashionable in the way it is now) and small tea. They were the first tea company to put the maker's name and location on all their teas - and they have over 60 teas - and they work with small producers who farm less than 15 acres. This is because they consider it 'better for people, places and the planet'.

Also, the tea is absolutely beautifully packaged and presented. A must visit for anyone who considers themselves as into tea as the English are!

2. Good & Proper Tea

Can be found at various locations. This is wonderful start-up which has a great story because it was launched through a crowdfunding platform. It was one of the first ideas on the platform to achieve its target fundraising amount, and is all the more wonderful for being created by someone in their 20s - it's not just boring old farts who are into tea! Currently there isn't a permanent shop, but follow Good & Proper on Twitter and you can sample their delicious, exclusive blends from their roaming vans (often found at farmer's markets, outside major train stations, festival and more). You can also buy a bag of their blends to take away with you. Our top tip: we love their 2nd flush Darjeeling. Or, for something a little different, try their special recipe iced Keemun tea on a hot summer's day. Absolutely delicious!

3. Drury Lane Tea & Coffee Company

This is an institution that's been around for over 75 years, and it is still a family-owned business. They stock over 100 loose leaf tea varieties, including black, green herbal and flavoured. They are proud to be able to source any tea on request from anywhere in the world, and have 3 professional tea-tasters to offer advice on all aspects of tea brewing and drinking! Our insider tip: ask for their Kenyan Broken Orange Pekoe, it's delicious.

4. The City Beverage Company Ltd.

This is a Carter Company favourite because we think they sell the best Keemun of anyone in the UK. They also sell beer, wines, spirits and coffee. Their mission 'to source an eclectic collection has introduced us to passionate local producers in all the major growing areas of the world, as well as some very interesting and lesser known regions'. We can't recommend them enough!

5. The Tea Makers of London Ltd.

Fine tea specialists who are big on the precision and artistry of proper tea brewing. They stock not only black and green tea but also white, yellow (a rare type of fermented tea only produced in China), oolong (an ancient Chinese variety dating back over 400 years), dark tea or border-sale tea as it is known in China, and pu-erg which is very unique but essentially a Chinese dark tea. Our insider tip: we're big fans of their Green Roasted Rice and Popcorn blend. Absolutely tasty as anything and a lovely nutty aftertaste.