Seven Destinations to Celebrate International Tea Day
Ah, tea. The comforting brew that most people can’t get enough of. International Tea Day on the 21st May celebrates the cultural and economic significance of tea across the globe, highlighting just how much joy and comfort this beverage can bring.
We are marking the occasion with a round-up of seven of the best destinations for tea lovers around the world. With 51% of global travelers keen to try the best places for food and drink on their next trip,* International Tea Day is the perfect excuse to travel to locations naturally steeped in history and beauty.
Tea is a worldwide phenomenon and just about every country, from Argentina to Malaysia, has its own way of consuming it. From the rich past of Chinese green tea to the vibrant mint leaves of Morocco, discover the exciting destinations behind the drinks.
The Darjeeling district of West Bengal is known for its plethora of tea gardens, with over 80 stretching across acres of land. Located in the foothills of the mountains, the emerald-green Darjeeling Tea Garden produces tea with such an intense aroma and spicy flavor, it’s often referred to as the ‘champagne of teas.’ When visitors aren’t admiring the majestic Khangchendzonga, the world’s third highest mountain, they can visit Buddhist monasteries and take a ride on the 140-year-old stream Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.
Where to stay: The blissful hill resort Mayfair Darjeeling, with spectacular views overlooking the valley, is a tranquil spot with easy access to the Darjeeling Tea Garden. Classic Indian rooms exude old world charm and elegance with carved wooden furnishings and colorful prints. The hotel features a spa, state-of-the-art gym, pool and tea boutique. Wake up to birdsong and spend the day exploring the stunning tea gardens.
English breakfast tea is a British staple, which has expanded over the years to include a variety of brews including decaf and gold standard. The quaint spa town of Harrogate is home to one of the UK’s most popular Yorkshire tea brands, where it blends tea leaves from Assam and East Africa to create unique combinations bursting with flavor. Take a trip to the nearby city of York and enjoy a delightful Afternoon Tea Boat Cruise along the picturesque River Ouse, where visitors will discover the city's medieval history. Iconic sites include York Minster, one of the largest and most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world.
Where to stay: The Chapel Boutique Bed and Breakfast, situated in the heart of the town, is ideally located near local sites including the Harrogate Turkish Baths, Royal Hall Theatre and Royal Pump Room Museum as well as the famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms, serving delicious afternoon teas in Harrogate since 1919. The unique grade II listed chapel conversion boasts luxe rooms with an eccentric and eclectic mix of styles. Following a day of sightseeing and tea tasting, relax on the large balcony overlooking the lush gardens.
This mountainous city with misty skies and a centerpiece lake is home to colorful rainforests and an array of tea estates. It’s where the first tea was planted in Sri Lanka and now has a flourishing economy with over 600 tea estates stretched across the region. Explore the area with a Tea Plantation Cycling Tour and discover the wonders of the city; starting at the Ceylon Tea Museum in Kandy, then cycling 55km through lush tea plantations where travelers can stop and speak to tea pickers and learn about local varieties. Try the refreshing Ceylon tea, each leaf carefully handpicked to ensure its quality – enjoyed warm or over ice.
Where to stay: Located amidst the Madulkelle Tea Estate is the stunning and peaceful Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge. With secluded lodges and a pool with panoramic views across the rolling green hills, it’s perfectly located to nearby attractions including the Hatale Waterfalls and Knuckles Mountain Range, a UNESCO World Heritage site. When travelers aren’t out exploring the tea estates, they can enjoy a sumptuous meal with freshly grown ingredients from the hotel gardens or a campfire under the stars at night.
Refreshing mint tea is the national drink of choice in Morocco. Various blends are made across the country, but the vibrant mint leaves from the scenic hilltop city of Meknes are said to be the best. A UNESCO-stamped ancient medina, meander around the old town to discover everything from specialist souks selling beautiful crafts and textiles to teahouses in secret courtyards and even the odd donkey strolling around.
Where to stay: Stay in the heart of Meknes at the impressive Riad Mama H&K. Traditionally decorated with the authentic architecture of Morocco including hand-carved wood and geometric tiles, the hotel also features a pretty outdoor terrace. Discover local dishes from tangines to seafood in all their richness and variety at the on-site restaurant or relax by the fireplace with a soothing mint tea.
With a long history stretching through multiple centuries and cultures, tea is one of China’s greatest treasures. Longjing Village, dubbed ‘the holy land of green tea’ – and also known as Dragon Well – is situated in Hangzhou’s beautiful West Lake district. Rising to prominence during the Huang Dynasty, the tea has a vibrant emerald color and aromatic sweet flavor. Discover the natural beauty of Longjing Village with its secluded hiking trails, hidden caves and family-run tea shops.
Where to stay: West Lake State Guest House is conveniently located close to West Lake, a short walk from Longjing Village and the Hangzhou National Tea Museum. Here, visitors can discover the history and evolution of Chinese brews and enjoy a tea tasting. The modern hotel boasts a heated pool, spa fitness center and hot tub in each room – as well as impressive views of classical Chinese scenery.
Said to have the strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea and the joy of chocolate, the herbal tea Yerba Mate is Argentina’s national drink, and enjoyed for its energy-boosting qualities. The leaves are grown in the rich rainforests of the northeastern province of Misiones, famed for its red earth and papaya fields. Within Misiones lies the Iguazú National Park, home to the magical Iguazú Falls – the world’s largest waterfall – where visitors can spot bright-billed toucans and colorful butterflies.
Where to stay: Self-catering bungalows Cabañas Doralia in the city of Oberá feature a well-equipped kitchen, BBQ terrace, outdoor pool and exquisite garden views. The comfortable accommodation is located near La Ruta Del Te, an Argentinian tea house where travelers can learn from fourth generation tea producers and try Yerba Mate sweetened with agave and served with pastries for an afternoon treat.
Steeped in rich tea-making traditions, the Cameron Highlands is renowned for its impressive emerald tea estates and exquisite mountain views. The Bharat Tea Estate produces some of the world's favorite tea labels including Cameroon Valley, which takes its flavor inspiration from Sri Lanka and South India. Visitors can quench their thirst at the estate’s Tea House with a special high tea, and wander through the lush hilly terrain with moss-covered trees, rich wildlife and exotic plants.
Where to stay: Located a short drive away from the Bharat Tea Estate is Heahtitude, a kitsch vintage guest house with modern amenities. Visitors can enjoy activities around the Cameron Highlands, including hiking and cycling in the Mossy Forest, where Rafflesia – the biggest flowers in the world – can be found. Between trekking and tea culture, it’s easy to unwind in the evenings on the beautiful riverside terrace.
* Research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,055 respondents across 31 countries and territories were polled (including 501 from Argentina, 1003 from Australia, 500 from Belgium, 1001 from Brazil, 500 from Canada, 1000 from China, 1007 from Colombia, 1001 from Croatia, 508 from Denmark, 1002 from France, 1000 from Germany, 1005 from Hong Kong, 1000 from India, 502 from Israel, 1003 from Italy, 1002 from Japan, 500 from Mexico, 501 from The Netherlands, 501 from New Zealand, 500 from Peru, 1000 from Russia, 1005 from Singapore, 1002 from South Korea, 1002 from Spain, 501 from Sweden, 501 from Switzerland, 504 from Taiwan, 500 from Thailand, 1000 from the UK, 1002 from the US and 501 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2021.