Step Aside Coffee; These Tantalising Teas Have The Job Now

Tea is a very big deal in Penang now.

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Step Aside Coffee; These Tantalising Teas Have The Job Now
Image: Metisser Patisserie & Tea Room
Amidst all the mushrooming coffee houses with forever-gentrifying collection of cuppas, tea connoisseurs may feel a little unattended.

Fret no more, as we have left no stone unturned and curated 19 spots to leave tea lovers smiling ear to ear.

From herby-goody ones to imaginative combos, high tea favourites and everything in between, these teas can hold its own against the best coffee out there. 

1.    Winter Warmers

Perfect for high-tea.With eight branches across Penang, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about Winter Warmers before. They have successfully knotted together teas of the highest quality, scrumptious food and lovely backdrops. The tea menu boasts variety with an eye on creativity. Among the crowd favourites are Iced Milk tea, Rose Milk tea and Candied Ginger tea. Just as the names imply, each has distinctive flavours to cling onto your taste buds. Make sure you arrive hungry and up the ante with their high tea - three-tier plates filled with pies, sandwiches, sweet and savoury tarts, strawberry mousse, scones, cookies and cakes that taste just as good as they look. Besides that, the gorgeous tea sets and teas packed in boxes are great for gifts. 

2.    Suffolk House 

A whole lot of flavours to choose from.
Suffolk House puts on a spread as good as any afternoon tea you’ll find in Penang. Between the stroll from the lush garden to the elegant dining space, take in the beauty of the heritage preservation. On par with the surrounds, the three-tiered tray is occupied by British-inspired bites like homemade scones with jam, marmalade, butter and compote, chicken pies, sandwiches, petite cakes and cookies. Also, it’s quite hard to decipher which is the best tea from the selection but the regulars seem to rank the Fruity Camomile and Cream Orange at the top spot, due to its delicate aroma and rich flavours. If you’re planning on a tea date, you can never go wrong here!

3.    Tae Tea 

For Chinese tea lovers.
This joint is not tucked amidst any hipster neighbourhoods and has no seating space but these are complete trifles compared to the wide spectrum of traditional Chinese teas. Locals and tourists alike come here to discover the sheer variety of teas that suits all budgets and palates. First timers may have a hard time but the tea sommeliers are ready to assist with a guided tea tasting session. Each tea, particularly the herbal ones, tow along ample of health benefits with no sacrifice in the taste department. And, not to forget, the traditional ornaments and sculptures perfectly radiate the essence of China.   

4.    Miam Miam

Check out their famed Fresh Fruit Tea.Miam Miam is recognised by many as one of the best restaurants to savour scrumptious spaghetti and desserts but their teas are equally rave-worthy too. They serve renowned Ronnenfeldt teas (Chamomile and lemongrass) from Germany and in-house offerings like Royal Milk tea and Fresh Fruit tea. The latter is the most ordered tea - served in a transparent tea pot with a candle beneath, the English tea is laden with mint leaves, sliced fruits like oranges, limes, and strawberries. It creates a unique sweet and sour combo that laces onto your palate in no time. Elevate your tea session with their soufflé pancakes and French toasts.  

5.    Metisser Patisserie & Tea Room

Their pastry is on par with their teas.
Occupying a lot in Ropewalk Piazza, Metisser Patisserie & Tea Room has placed a firm foothold in Penang’s tea scene. The white-washed walls and minimalist decorations quickly ease you into a calm and relaxed state, while the arrangement of kaleidoscopic tea boxes heightens your anticipation to taste their tea. Choices include black, green, oolong, white, tisanes, fruit and floral. Besides the delectable teas, the pastry and sweets menu is as extensive as the name hints. From Instagram-worthy cakes to fruit tarts, macaroons and freshly baked scones served with jam and clotted cream, an afternoon tea here is nothing but spectacular. 

6.    Jing Si Books & Cafe

All the way from Taiwan.
Unplug from all hustle and bustle at Jing Si Books & Cafe. Part of the Malaysian Tzu Chi foundation, the ambience is an epitome of peace and purity, as bamboo furniture, rows of cabinet stocked with books suitable for all ages (predominantly Chinese), traditional statues and welcoming volunteers transports you to a secluded part of Taiwan within a blink of an eye. Yet, it's the 100% organic, inexpensive teas that steal the show, sourced directly from the hills of Miaoli, Taiwan and served with an eye on the aesthetic scale. Offerings like oolong, green and red tea emphasise on pure flavours and one can branch out to Roselle tea and pomelo tea (black tea mixed with fresh pomelo) for mild floral and fruity spin respectively. The homemade vegan biscuits follow suit with the tea, healthy and yummy! 

7.    TWG Tea Salon

Take a break from your shopping.
This opulent tea room can never be gone unnoticed on Level 1 of Gurney Paragon Mall and it offers the perfect pause from your shopping spree. Walk in jaws agape, as cabinets frame up an unrivalled array of teas and the interior screams luxury at every angle, becoming the place to see and be seen. Be it Moroccan Mint tea, Red Africa tea, English Earl tea, Grand Istanbul tea or just anything that piques your interest, take a chance to explore the world via your palate. Before you ask “What pairs well with the tea?”, check out their unique sandwich menu or settle for high tea consisting freshly baked scones, muffins, tarts, and colourful macaroons. 

8.    Qing Huan Tea House

For true fans of Chinese teas.
With more than 20 years of experience and a compendium of teas sourced directly from China, Qing Huan Tea House is the place to be if authentic Chinese tea is up your alley. The first thing that hits you when you enter this quaint spot is the simplistically relaxing atmosphere, with the tatami seating, traditional tea sets and of course, never-ending selection of healthy yet tasty teas. Overwhelmed by choices? Partake in a short tea testing session before your palate nods its favourite. Despite keeping traditional values close to heart, creativity is never overlooked as one can also relish black tea chicken soup and wash it all down with assorted tea shakes and tea puddings. Talk about an all-out tea-centric meal! 

9.     Auction Rooms 

Tea time with a view.
Hotel Kimberley’s in-house restaurant, Auction Rooms, is undeniably one of the most photogenic restaurants on the island. The menu is committed to serve all walks of life, which includes tea lovers. Whether you come for the familiar favourites like Breakfast tea and Earl Grey tea or take a step on the floral side with Pure Chamomile tea, Pure Peppermint Leaves tea, Green tea with Jasmine Flower or settle for their top seller, Rose French Vanilla tea - you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault in any. But the real deal is from 2pm to 5pm as afternoon tea takes place. Eliminating the tier-oriented concept, the motley of sweet and savoury morsels come in an eye-catching presentation, and the flavours speak for itself. 

10.    Meet Up Cafe & Bar

Tea with a Spanish twist.
If teas imported from China and England no longer excite you, how about twirling your taste buds with a Spanish twist? Named Tea Quiero, there are a total of eight flavours to pick from - three black teas, two green teas and two infusions. The most ordered ones are the Ronda Rooibos (a malty delight with hints of vanilla and orange peel) and Malaga Red Fruits (infused with mixed berries). Another distinctive delight is the Granada Ginger - an energising blend of green tea with lime and ginger. In addition to the teas, walk through their out-of-the-box cakes such as marshmallow cherry and vanilla pistachio mousse cake. The combination of exposed brick walls, colourful chairs and chic lightings, encased within a colonial outlook make up a prime setting for sipping tea with your like-minded buddies. 

11.    Farquhar Mansion 

Known for their Ronnefeldt teas.
Situated in a colonial mansion in the heart of Georgetown, Farquhar Mansion promises a clever mixture of heritage charm and modern-day opulence under one roof. Equally exciting as the setting is their range of Ronnefeldt teas - English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Refreshing Mint, Cream Orange, Jasmine Gold, Sweet Berries, and Fruity White. The latter three are widely raved by the patrons due to the floral and fruity notes. Further enhance the already splendid moment with their high tea comprising fascinating nibbles such as scones, fruit tart, royal chocolate cake, codfish burger, cold capellini, pumpkin money bag and more. And, the delicate China and artful arrangements of the bite-sized goodies definitely shout for a post in Instagram. 

12.    Huey&Wah 

For a modern twist.
If creativity is what you seek in your tea quest, stop by this marshmallow wonderland and order their Organic Orange Peeko Tea with Lemon and Passion fruit mallows. Yes, who said only coffees are out-of-the-box?! Staying true to the name, the warm tea will be accompanied by two marshmallows, and once it's dunked into the drink, expect zesty, sweet, and sour flavours team up to tantalise your taste buds. For those not into elaborate teas, they also serve Australian organic teas that come in peach, passion fruit and guava flavours. Mouth-watering already? And we haven’t mentioned about the marshmallow cakes, muffins and s’more that are so damn yummy. 

13.    Awesome Canteen - Sekeping Victoria

Awesome Canteen is pretty awesome.
Awesome Canteen has become as famous for its rustic-minimalist interior as their serving of good food (Paleo menu is available too). But rather overlooked is their selection of Joe’s organic teas. To further amp up your anticipation, these teas are stocked up in Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. Now you sure know it's greater than good! The Berry Best (brimming burst of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries flavours) tops the scoreboard while Earl of Grey, Queen of Green, Choca Rew Brew and Sweet Chamomile vie for equal attention with their individual flavour twists.  Enjoy a forkful of key lime pie or chomp down their lip-smacking burgers while sipping on your choice of tea. 

14.    David Brown's Restaurant & Tea Terrace 

When view matters during your tea time break.
When it comes to commanding panoramic views of the island, this restaurant, perched at Penang Hill, gives other contenders in the list a run for their money. It’s quite evident that the restaurant holds its British past close to its heart, which also translates as an impeccable setting for a steaming pot of tea. There’s no lack of options - Cameronian, Peppermint, Camomile, Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Peach and Passion Fruit, Green and Darjeeling. And if you come between the hunger-inducing interval of lunch and dinner, opt for their high tea set for optimal satisfaction. Their signature English scones with homemade strawberry jam, cream and butter, mini pastries, and sandwiches are not only pretty to look at, they are absolutely heavenly. 

15.    Victorian Garden 

For the inner British in you.
Victoria Garden has all the ingredients for a respite from the buzzing city life. It’s a glorious British affair with a colonial façade, white and pink pastel coloured interior, fancy chandelier and ornaments, silverware and of course, a medley of delectable teas that make life worth living for. It's mostly imported from England and some from Sri Lanka. From regular runners like Earl Grey and English Breakfast to flavour twists such as Lovers Leap, Vintage Lavender and Royal Darjeling, there is a tea to suit everybody’s taste. Served in bone China, there’s certainly clamours to feature in your Instagram feed too. Still not enough? Partake in the afternoon tea, and fall in love with a three-tier tray graced up with sweet and savoury morsels. 

16.    Cha Yen 

A little Thai twist to your tea.
What started out as a humble drink stall along Armenian Street is now satiating hunger pangs and thirst in a shop lot at I-Avenue. The equation is pretty simple here: tie up authentic Thai dishes with Thai drinks and in your case, it’s the milk teas! Not to be missed are Cha Yen - smooth and aromatic milk tea and Cha Kheiwy Yen - iced green tea made from dried tea leaves. To ensure the flavours are on par with what you get in the Land of Smiles, teas are imported directly. And how about pairing your tea with luscious dishes like Kaeng Som (a spicy and sour curry) and Tomyam Chicken Popcorn? 

17.    PIKNIK 

Goes very well with a slice of cake.
PIKNIK Cafe at Nagore Road is often seen as one of the pioneers in Penang’s cafe scene. Renowned for their selection of sweet and savoury waffles and freshly brewed coffees, but their teas are pretty good too. The lemon winter melon tea has been gathering pace among tea buffs, with its tangy, sweet flavours and pleasant aroma. Other common picks include Earl Grey tea and Honey Jasmine Green tea. Don’t miss to add a slice of carrot cake or blueberry cheesecake - a combination that you can never put down. The setting might lack that tea house vibes, but the catchy colours, mishmash of furnitures, board games and a young and lively crowd will encourage you to linger longer.

18.    Huang Chen Hao Tea Art

Tea is an art at Huang Chen.
Tea session here is an artful education to all senses. The amount of care lavished onto the teas are inspiring. The natural teas are from China, and the process of harvesting, frying, drying and packaging are done from scratch using heirloom recipes and techniques. An amiable man often demonstrates the art of preparing the tea freshly before it hugs you from the inside. Options are extensive but do try their best selling puer tea, which is jam-packed with health benefits and also scores in terms of taste and aroma. The Chinese-styled ornaments and paintings catch your eyes in an otherwise neat and clean interior. 

19.    Pink Elephant Ice Cream 

Probably the best Thai milk tea in town.
Pink Elephant Ice Cream in Queensbay Mall is never without a queue of sweet tooths, in open-mouthed wonder, peering at Thai Fried Ice Cream. But another factor that keeps patrons coming back is its options of Thai Milk tea. The signature Cha Yen is a must-try - full of flavours, aromatic and icy good! Those seeking for gentrifications, opt for Thai Coco Milk tea - a genuine dose of chocolate or Thai Lemon Green Tea - tangy and herby goodness. Ice cream and tea? Why on earth not?

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