Perhaps it’s because I share a name with the queen who introduced the habit of afternoon tea to England, or maybe because I just don’t enjoy coffee as much as 99% of the Portuguese population… or it could be because I lived in England for a long time. Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that my love of tea borders on addiction. If you’re also an avid tea-drinker, keep reading: I know the best place in Lisbon to get your fix.
I had been meaning to visit Empório do Chá for a while but only recently made it out there. It was a dreary winter morning, which only made a cozy and relaxing tea with my mom more appealing. As soon as I walked in and saw the walls lined with tea containers, I knew it wasn’t going to be a short stay. Their extensive tea menu can be overwhelming if you aren’t prepared for it. If you’re wondering what I mean by “extensive”, I mean over 250 types of tea – basically a tea-lovers paradise! My jet-lag demanded an energy boost, so I opted for an organic dragon pearl green tea (I loved it, in case you were wondering) and my mom and I shared a yummy Portuguese requeijão pastry.
There’s a esplanada (an outdoor seating area) at the back of Empório do Chá, where you can relax when the weather is warm and sunny, but we stayed inside and explored the various treats on offer. Even if you aren’t as obsessed with tea, Empório do Chá still has its share of temptations. They have homemade cookies and biscuits, specialty chocolate bars (think Earl Gray, ginger, crystallized rose petals, and cinnamon flavors), jams and ready-to-cook risottos. You can also buy some cute tea accessories. Note to self: buy nice gifts here.
Despite temptations everywhere, I went for the real treasure: tea. I couldn’t choose just one loose leaf tea to take home, so I opted for two. I have a penchant for flowery teas, so I chose a rose petal black tea and an herbal tea called “Tempestade” (storm). It has strawberry and raspberry leaves, aniseed, sweet briar, apple, fennel, mint, lemon balm, sunflower petals and peonies. How could I resist the opportunity to – essentially – enjoy a garden in a tea cup? Verdict: both varieties were delicious. I was thrilled that the rose petal black tea has actual petals (and even a couple of buds!) in it. You can really taste the roses even after you brew it. The herbal tea is a lighter but fragrant tea – perfect for caffeine-free nighttime tea drinking.