London Tea Walk

The History of Tea & Coffee Walking Tour

Could there be a better time to visit London?

The past months have created a longing to explore more of Great Britain and now seems the perfect time to book a stay in our less crowded cities and study the history behind the metropolitan developments of today.  For those who already live and work in London, how much actual knowledge do we have of all that has gone before?  Our walk sets out to ‘educate with fun’ and bring the history of our tea and coffee trade to light.

What could be more British than a nice cup of tea?

The Culture Concierge has curated a brand-new look at the history of tea and coffee in London, with a leisurely and informative walk stretching from St Katherine’s Dock to the Royal Exchange, led by our expert guide.

In times of crisis, sickness, tragedy, the first thing we do is put the kettle on.  Never mind that there may have been bombs dropping, fires raging, a nice cup of tea solved everything.  And yet behind this simple beverage lies stories of derring-do, adventure and excitement on an epic scale.  Our City walk celebrates the humble camellia sinensis plant from which our extraordinary variety of teas emanate.   Tea was at the heart of the founding of the British Empire; fuelling our global trade, culture and even behaviours and etiquette.  And London was, for many years, the epicentre of an expanding trade which changed our British lives forever! 

The walk focuses on the oldest part of London, the City, which grew from the trade coming into the Pool of London. Ships travelled across the globe for weeks to bring the first pickings to the British public. In a time before instant communication, people held their breath waiting for the ships to return from their perilous journeys, in what became an annual race with financial benefits for the winner. Fortunes were won and lost on the turn of the wind.  And, of course, our story would not be complete without the history of the goliath that was the East India Company and the pioneers who, by risking life and limb, sought to bring tea to our shores.  In just a small area surrounding the Tower of London flourished the warehousing and auction houses from which tea was distributed far and wide across the country and beyond.  The City still holds some of the magic of those past times, which we’ll be exploring.  And through the stories of those involved and the sites of the most significant importance, we’ll be conjuring up the atmosphere of the time when the tea trade was king. 

Our walking route will start at the scenic St Katherine’s Dock and will continue to the Pool of London, the tea auction sites of Mincing Lane, a peek at the home of one of our most famous British tea, coffee and biscuit merchants and Royal Warrant holders, an exploration of 18th Century coffee shops and how tea drinking later caught on, and the history of the Royal Exchange.  Whilst we pay tribute to the marvellous work of the Bramah Museum from 1992 to 2008, our walk will also include an ancient coaching inn where the panelled coffee rooms survive today; Cubitt’s enclosed tea wharf and a commemoration of the Boston Tea Party. 

Walk curator and guide Sue Hadley MITG is an experienced and qualified Blue Badge tourist guide in London and surrounds.  A Londoner by birth, she was born into the colourful atmosphere of the East End.  London has been her home, workplace and playground for many years. Showing visitors around ‘her city’ is her greatest pleasure and we are thrilled to collaborate with her on this exciting new project.

The English Manner and The Culture Concierge was founded by Alexandra Messervy FRSA, a former Member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen.  Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the founding of the company this year, Alexandra and her colleagues have taught the etiquette of afternoon tea and traditions all over the world from China to Chester.  Tour participants will be able to add an etiquette class to their day, learning the differences between afternoon tea and high tea, and to debate whether it should be cream or jam first on the ubiquitous British scone!

A donation will be given from each walk to the London Tea History Association, which has been set up to promote the history of tea and those who have been associated with the industry in the UK.

The London Tea & Coffee Walk is offered at three levels:

Bronze Leaf offers the fully guided walk, for up to 8 guests - £300

Silver Leaf includes Afternoon Tea at Royal grocer, Fortnum & Mason, for up to 8 guests - £480 + £120 per person

Gold Leaf includes a tutored tea tasting with international expert Malcolm Ferris-Lay and a full  Afternoon Tea etiquette tutorial at Fortnum & Mason with our partners at The English Manner, for up to 8 guests - £1320 + £120 per person

Groups of 9-99 guests available on request

For bookings contact

Please note that tours are available throughout the year, subject to UK Government covid-related restrictions and venue, guide & tutor availability. 

Full terms & conditions available on request.