With obvious links to China’s historic tea-drinking culture, it’s no surprise that Hongkongers love their tea (and we don’t mean the lai cha prevalent in cha chaan tengs). From regular ol’ hong cha to upmarket puer to budget oolong, where do you go if you’re in search of quality tea to make at home? Here’s where. From traditional shops that have been around for decades to new, trendy kids on the block, these are the places that should suit you to a, well, tee.
And if while sipping your tea you become keen on investigating some disappearing cultural experiences in Hong Kong, check out our feature on just that.
The best places to buy tea in Hong Kong
This award-winning brand – one of the most famous tea stores in Hong Kong – is a one-stop shop for all your tea needs. It stocks jasmine, green, white, black, red, flower, three kinds of oolong and even Japanese teas, presented in eco-friendly packaging. Not sure what to go for? MingCha offers regular tea tastings where you can discover the origins and nature of many teas, as well as learning how to brew a cup like a pro.
With a name like that, you’ve got to be good. Thankfully, it lives up to the name by being one of the best sellers of puer tea in the city by carefully controlling how its goods are stored. Well known for oolong, white and green tea, if any of that is what you’re in the market for, best head to The Best.
Clever branding masks the fact that TWG Tea is only 10-years-old, and despite bearing a typical turn-of-the-century English aesthetic, TWG is in fact from Singapore. Age and geography is no barrier, though, as the brand is a premium purveyor of tea with an outrageously thorough selection that definitely leans more towards the top-end of the scale. Some of their Grand Fine Harvest Teas cost thousands of dollars.
If TWG seem a bit pretentious for your liking but you don't want to walk away from the IFC empty handed, try this local mainstay. Fook Ming Tong has been around for nearly 30 years and the staff are amazingly knowledgeable. They also have a hand in every aspect of their products, from selection to packaging, with an operation that’s spread throughout China. As well as the usual suspects, Fook Ming Tong always specialises in some relatively esoteric categories of tea such as yellow and ba bao.
More than 130 years old, Ying Kee is one of the oldest tea shops in the city. A move from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and several generations of ownership hasn’t blunted the quality of its leaves. There are eight categories of tea available with endless variants and grades within each (and staff have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all of them). Ying Kee also has some beautiful teaware and gift sets, making this is one of the best places in Hong Kong if you’re looking for a gift.
Another member of the old-guard in Hong Kong, Ki Chan has been delivering quality tea since the Second World War. If you’re looking to learn how to properly prepare and serve tea, this is the place to go. Ki Chan’s stunning selection runs the gamut from humble Lung Ching green tea, around $31 for 150g, all the way to choice gear like Wuyi da hung pao, which costs $141 for 150g.
Another more contemporary option with neat bells and whistles, with its teas presented in glass jars that can be personalised. As well as a great selection of green, red, oolong, white and black teas, online store Leaf Tea Boutique also stocks a wide range of herbs and petals such as mint, rose and rooibos among many others.
Although this spot is now arguably more famous for having a sit-down cuppa and some quality dim sum, it still offers some amazing brews to take home (be sure to try some of their speciality floral and osmanthus oolong teas). LockCha also sells stunning, ornate teaware which will undoubtedly take your next tea party to off-the-chains levels.
Channelling chic, Japanese-Nordic vibes, Green Gingko Tea specialises in premium teas from the prefectures of Kyoto and Shizuoka. Careful attention is paid to everything from the leaves and teaware to the water quality and temperature to ensure that the final brew is of the utmost quality. Try one of the sencha green teas, or go for the kukicha blend made from twigs and stems from the tea plant.