The best tea places in Rome used to be pharmacies, and up until the 19th century, that was the only place you could buy it. In Italy, you only drank tea if you were ill or as a mysterious Oriental drink during fascinating rituals. And while it may seem that Italians have a love affair with espresso, in recent years, thanks to the proliferation of small specialty tea shops and spots to grab a quick cup, tea culture is blossoming in Rome. Whether you’re a connoisseur or just enjoy a cup of tea here and there, in Rome there are plenty of opportunities to dive into the complex, aromatic world of tea.
In Rome, the story begins with the opening of Babington’s tea rooms in Piazza di Spagna. Enjoy an afternoon tea here in its Victorian rooms and taste the rich buttered scones with a tempting array of jams. If you can’t linger, you can always take home one of the teas. You’ll see the trademark packages with the black kittens on the label. There are so many choices on offer, but there are two that you in particular that you should check out. The tea that carries Queen Elizabeth’s name and one called Blue Lady, with its strawberry and rhubarb aromas, will spirit you away to an English garden in full bloom.
Another of the best tea places in Rome is the Giardino del Tè, one of the oldest in the city. Don’t be duped by its size, because this tiny shop in the heart of the Monti district is home to over 200 varieties of tea from China, Japan, India, and Africa. Among their most popular lines are the aromatic green teas, which even come in a flavor that pays an homage to cocktails like a piña colada. If it isn’t just the tea you’re after, but also the tools to make a great cup you’re looking for, then Tè e Teiere is the place for you. You will find everything you need to make a proper cup of tea, from kettles to cast iron Chinese teapots. And if you want to delve further into the subject, there are often seminars and tastings around the long wooden table inside the shop. Tè e Teiere mainly deals in high-quality Chinese, Korean, and Japanese teas which they import from small producers. Allow yourself to be seduced by the smoky aroma of the highly prized Zhen shan xiao zhong or the herb infused Japanese green tea Gyokuro tenko.
As soon as you enter Biblioteq you can’t help but notice the wall of multi-colored ceramics and tin cans. Not only will you find some rarer teas there, like Nepalese and Vietnamese varieties, but while you browse, Claudio will share his knowledge and teach you how they should be prepared. The only problem is which one of these aromas to try. Should you go for the black tea with red pepper, cinnamon, and pistachio or the traditional and renowned matcha? Everything here is set to stimulate your curiosity.
If you’re out for a walk near the Pantheon, you won’t be able to resist the aroma of Namastey, which acts as a magnet for tea-lovers, especially those whose taste favor the Chinese varieties. Daniela sources the teas herself from China, a place she regularly visits in search of rare new teas like the delicate Tie guan ying. She also organizes seminars and tastings so you can get closer to this fascinating world. Among the specialties, you should try the black tea flavored with roses, cinnamon, and cardamom with its intensely oriental perfume, or the fresh Ayurvedic tea, if you need help with your digestion.
Take the time to browse, taste, and chat with the experts and allow them to guide you with their passion for tea. A tea should be chosen according to your state of mind and enjoyed at your own pace. Choose your tea carefully and allow it to wrap you up like a warm embrace!