Hong Kong is a great place to buy tea. You'll find everything here from cut-price oolongs to exclusive pu-erh's aimed at collectors rather than your cup. Tea making is even taken more seriously here—just look at the Gongfu tea making method.
There are many types of tea, ways of preparation, mixes, and infusions. But don't feel daunted. Most Hong Kong tea shops have owners who enjoy a full blown love affair with a good cup of leaves and they will be eager to walk you through the options and pick the perfect blend for you. If they're not, you should find a better shop.
There are hundreds of tea shops in Hong Kong. We've tried to provide a list of locations where English is spoken and where the staff are prepared to deal with the tea novice. While you can buy tea to take away in all of the shops below, the true experience is in the sit-down tea ceremony.
One of the best tea shops in the city, Ming Cha is an excellent first stop for visitors who may be intimidated by the creaking shelves, shadowy corners and big mustaches at Hong Kong's more traditional tea houses.
One of the first modern tea shops in the city, Ming Cha is manned by a crew of knowledgeable and friendly staff. The selection of tea is equally impressive, so much so that it was once slipped into the goody bags for celebs at the Oscars and Cannes. Ming Cha also does an excellent line of well-designed gift packs.
This is one of the only places in Hong Kong that runs a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, where you can find out how to prepare and pour tea properly. There is even a tea experience for kids and families.
- Where: 9/F, Cheung Tat Centre, Room 901-902, 18 Cheung Lee St, Chai Wan. Official site. Location on Google Maps.
The Best Tea House
Run by 'Mr Chan,' one of Hong Kong's foremost authorities on cooking up a good brew, the Best Tea Shop is a small chain of unpretentious but quality tea houses and shops that supply tea to some of the city's finest, five-star hotels.
The selection of tea here is incredible, with endless lines of leaves, from newly grown green tea to 30-year aged pu-erh peeking out from behind the dark wooden counter—all at very fair prices. They also ship their teas abroad, if you develop a taste for the finer things in life.
- Where: It's worth trekking out to the original shop, which can be found at 11 Cheung Shun Street, Lai Chi Kok. Location on Google Maps. Official site.
Ying Kee Tea House
Only in Hong Kong would you find a chain of tea houses. Ying Kee has more than a dozen stores in Hong Kong, including at the airport, and stocks hundreds of local and imported teas.
The outlets lack the tradition of the Best Tea Shop but are well laid out and manned by knowledgeable staff. There are also plenty of specially designed teaware gifts for those looking to bring a bit of Hong Kong home with them. At the shops in Wan Chai and Central you should also find staff who speak English.
Fook Ming Tong
Founded in 1987, Fook Ming Tong has built a wide-ranging tea procuring and selling network that ensures top-quality product at the point of sale. The staff are Fook Ming Tong’s secret weapon—they can speak English and Cantonese fluently, and even Japanese in a pinch!
The two main stores in Hong Kong carry a massive selection of oolong, jasmine and longjing teas, covering multiple grades and ages. Prices range from a mere HK$ 10 upwards of HK$ 9000 per 100g.
A particular favorite of Fook Ming Tong fans is their Tie Guan Yin oolong tea, named after the Chinese/Buddhist goddess of mercy, and produced the traditional way in a village in Anxi County, Southern Fujian.
- Where: Shop 3006, Podium Level 3, ifc Mall, Central. Location on Google Maps.