An aimless stroll towards Trafalgar Square took us through Soho, and straight past Yumchaa. “Quaint,” said Chris. “Quite,” I replied. “Shall we?” “After you.” And in we went for tea. Never have we sounded such like an aging couple on holiday.
It’s busy in here, and we queue. The queue is a device which is applied to people who want things, when the fire of desire is making them unpredictable and dangerous. It is a micro social contract, here to stop our instinctual greed and fear from dominating our engagements with other people. Especially when they want tea. (This is why tea and queues are such British things, one requires the other.) Thom Hobbes said, ‘the object of man’s desire is not to enjoy once only and for one instant of time, but to assure for ever the way of his future desire. And therefore the voluntary actions and inclinations of all men tend not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring, of a contented life…’ So when one desires tea, do not bludgeon those before you, but wait in line, and everyone’s happy.
The queue is also necessary in order to take in the vast menu, and make well-informed decisions. The range of teas on offer here would even make General Yen pause for thought. Chris goes for a Chilli Chilli Bang Bang. Yes, inventive names come with the teas. Tea is really what’s going on here. Loose tea enthusiasts, Yumchaa sell their own teas and have a few Teapigs knocking around for plurality. No PG Tips, though. They also have a good-looking selection of sandwiches and cakes which, of course, I can’t afford. The prices are pretty standard for a central London café which makes an effort and has young culturally-inclined professionals as its market. So, fairly reasonable all things considered.
So, what did I get? One of there adventurous tea blends perhaps? Or stick with the coffee? No, something in me compelled me to get a Bottlegreen – ginger with a hint of lemon. However, tea samples were thrust before me in quick succession and I got pretty high knocking back shots of various blends of which I have since forgotten. For a true cup, I will have to return.
It’s airy here, in this pale wooden room. We’re in the basement. Upstairs was full. If I could move into this basement, I would. It’s homey. There are enough different tables and chairs to match the extensive range of teas. For every visit you could sit on a different chair with a different tea – Armchair and Mango Sunrise one week; wooden stool and Lemon Sherbert the next…
The staff care about the tea, and they care about whether you care about the tea. And I care about whether they care about me and the tea, so top marks for the staff. They brew a coffee with the same enthusiasm so coffee drinkers don’t be wary.
And what’s this? French music. C’est un bel après-midi, chantons!