Long before the entire planet began squandering its disposable income on coffee brewed by men with waxed mustaches, tea was the only game in town.
And while it’s starting to re-emerge from under the frothy shadow of its caffeine-kicking rival, in some places it never went away.
From charming buildings steeped in history to ornate architectural gems, these 11 tea houses prove that the beverage is more popular around the globe than ever before.
Rokhat, Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Literally translated chaikhana means “teaplace,” and they can be found all over Tajikistan.
Folks – mainly men – once gathered inside chaikhana for discussions, but these days they’re a place for anyone to socialize over a cup of tea.
The ornate Rokhat in Dushanbe is one of the finest places to lounge and sip tea while enjoying city views.
Locals favor the rich milk-infused tea common in Tajikistan, paired with Tajik food such as osh and shashlik kebabs.
Rokhat, Rudaki Avenue 84, Dushanbe, Tajikistan; +992 90 793 1347
Tea House 278, Bar Harbor, Maine
Tea House 278, set away from the fast pace of Bar Harbor’s downtown Main Street, cranks up the Zen dial with its Buddha pond and rock garden.
The interior is decked in Chinese art from owner Lynn Benson’s frequent trips to China.
The tea house prides itself on hand-crafted, full-leaf teas from family-owned tea farms in China and Taiwan.
Come for the tea. Linger for the quiet and calming atmosphere.
Tea House 278, 278 Main St, Bar Harbor, Maine; +1 207-288-2781
Rangoon Tea House, Yangon, Myanmar
Tea houses serve as the social gathering place for many in Myanmar.
Here they’re easily recognizable by the colorful small plastic tables and stools that spill out on the street.
One of the more modern tea houses in Yangon, the Rangoon Tea House is a stylish hangout for locals and travelers.
As well as tea, it offers snacks such as ono kaew soi (coconut milk noodles) and steamed buns stuffed with butterfish.
Popular local teas include la phet yay, brewed black tea from the highlands and traditionally served with sweet condensed milk, or yay nway chan, weak green or black tea made of leaves and twigs thrown in hot water.
Rangoon Tea House, 77-79 Pansodan Road, Yangon, Myanmar; +95 9 979 078681
Leaf Tea Bar, Rochester, New York
Located in Rochester’s trendy South Wedge neighborhood in upstate New York, Leaf Tea Bar is a family-run business started by Mary Boland and her husband Niraj Lama who hails from Darjeeling, India.
It’s like a bar but for tea instead of alcohol.
Customers can grab a seat at the red oak bar and choose from a variety of black, green, oolong and matcha herbal teas.
The masala chai tea is handmade in house and can be enjoyed along with snacks prepared by a local vegan bakery.
Leaf Tea Bar, 650 South Ave, Rochester, New York; +1 585-245-0242
Sengan-en, Kagoshima, Japan
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Sengan-en is a stately home and garden.
The Shimadzu family has passed the house down many generations for 350 years and it now serves as a museum and tea house for visitors.
Tea tours of the area reveal the lifestyle of a feudal lord, followed by a look at the traditional Japanese architecture and private inner garden.
At the end of the tour, guests try matcha green tea and Japanese confectioneries in the traditional style of a Japanese tea ceremony.
Sengan-en, 9700-1 Yoshinocho, Kagoshima, Japan; +81 99-247-1551
Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, Lake Louise, Canada
A tea house at 7,000 feet?
The Plain of Six Glaciers rustic tea house rests above Lake Louise in Banff National Park, and is only accessible only by a four-mile hike or horseback ride up the mountains.
The tea house offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains, and it’s common to see or hear avalanches across the plain.
With no electricity or running water on offer, visiting the tea house is a wilderness experience.
Homemade pastries and tea are prepared on propane stoves.
Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada; +1 403-667-4663
The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Random Tea Room is Philadelphia’s answer to those who wish to shop for antiques and drink tea immersed in a “whimsical selection of sensory delight.”
Most of the furniture in the indoor/outdoor space is for sale because the owner likes to rotate pieces in and out.
Customers can scout for furniture while also enjoying some of the 40 artisan teas and house-blended herbal infusions.
Favorites include organic Simmer Down, made of chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, peppermint and passionflower. Gluten-free cakes are available here too.
The Random Tea Room & Curiosity Shop, 713 N 4th St, Philadelphia; +1 267-639-2442
Proper Tea, Manchester, England
Located across from Manchester Cathedral, this is an easy place to step in from the cold and sit.
The tall windows, white furniture and cheery setting offer a contemporary take on the traditional British tearoom.
On the menu is Jasmine Fairies Performing Flower tea – its jasmine flower unravels within a clear pot.
Other loose leaf teas include peppermint super grade, whole rosebuds, and green mulberry, as well as cream teas, cakes, hearty stews, soups and sandwiches.
Proper Tea, 10 Cateaton St, Manchester; +44 161 832 3220
Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room, Staunton, Virginia
The Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room located in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley would have made Shakepeare’s wife proud.
Guests take tea in this traditional Tudor-style tea room complete with a thatched roof, while sampling a spread of homemade tea sandwiches, shortbread and scones – all served with clotted cream and jams imported from England and served in fine china.
Treats include a savory custard dessert called “posset,” made famous (with added poison) by Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth. “
For those into proper teaware, enjoy viewing the rare collection of tea sets and goods imported from the UK.
Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room, 950 W Beverley Street, Staunton, Virginia; +1 540-885-8885
Pin Von Teahouse, Suzhou, China
The tranquil canals and waterways of Suzhou led Marco Polo to hail the city as the Venice of the East.
The 130-year old Pin Von Teahouse overlooks one of these canals, which is frequently plied by hand-steered boats.
Its front door opens onto Pingjiang Road, a charming pedestrian street with classical architecture in the old part of town.
The tea house serves a selection of Suzhou-style dim sum and a wide variety of tea, including pu’er, oolong, biluochun and Wuyishan teas.
Visitors have tea with local fare, including shengjian mantou (fried soup dumplings) and jiuniang yuanzi (rice balls in a sweet fermented rice porridge).
At night, musicians can be heard playing in the pretty lantern-illuminated streets.
Pin Von Teahouse, 94 Pingjiang Rd, Jiangsu Sheng, Suzhou Shi, China; +86 512 6728 8816
Rx Tea Time, Cheyenne, Wyoming
Wyoming is mostly associated with wide open spaces and rodeos.
But Rx Tea Time in Cheyenne wants to provide a different kind of tea experience, with a focus on the drink’s health benefits.
Modeled after the Victorian era where guests reserve a teatime setting, choose a tea cup, and enjoy scones, Rx sticks to old traditions.
Everything is made fresh for each setting and guests will steep and strain their own tea at the table.
There are 27 teas to choose from – all with respective health benefits, antioxidant levels and caffeine content.
Rx Tea Time Premium helps with cardiovascular disease and the reduction of blood pressure, Green Earl Grey supports weak eyes, and the Christmas Blend says it treats muscle spasms, common cold, and digestion.
Rx Tea Time, 1605 Pebrican Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming; +1 307-461-1574