In the high street battle of the beverages – it’s the turn of tea to strike back.
After a decade in which American-style coffee shops became obligatory on every high street, refined tea shops recapturing an earlier era of British elegance are having their revenge.
Three new tea houses are soon set to do battle in Cardiff’s city centre alone – hoping to inspire visitors with loose-leaf teas from across the world.
Ali Kasam, founder of the award-winning Waterloo Garden Teahouse in Penylan, is opening a new premises in the Wyndham Arcade next month.
He will join Barker Tea House in the High Street Arcade and the Pettigrew Tea Rooms at the main entrance to Bute Park.
Kasim Ali, director at Waterloo Tea, said: “It had got to the point where towns and cities were filled with awful coffee shops. There is a new market for good quality tea being served in a tea room environment.”
Kasim, 37, of Cardiff has been running the award-winning Waterloo Gardens Teahouse in Roath since 2008, and last year opened a new tea house in Penarth.
Stephen Barker, owner of Barker Tea House, said that business had been booming since he opened last month.
Stephen’s parents, Kay and Robert, started Barker clothes store in 1970 and opened Barker Coffee in 2010.
“There was a need for someone in the city centre doing tea and doing it well. It was a huge gap in the market,” he said.
Barker offers more than 60 blends of tea from Ginseng Oolong to Jasmine Dragon Pearls.
Stephen, 41, of Blackwood said: “Tea was in its hey day in the Edwardian and Victorian times, when we had an empire, when Britain was great. We wanted to recreate that era in the tea house.”
Richard Bancroft, 24, resident DJ at Buffalo Bar, said: “This is the sort of place you can bring your family but it also has a good vibe for young people.”
Keith Jones, 64, a retired steel worker from Newport, said: “Everything about Barker Tea House is first class, even down to the toilets.”
David Le Masurier, manager and founder of Pettigrew Tea Rooms, said that business has been “phenomenal” since they opened on the edge of Bute Park in March 2012.
He said: “It is great there are now more options for tea in Cardiff. It is definitely the place to be for tea at the moment.”