Tea Cafe and Museum
The English tradition of afternoon tea has had a home near London Bridge ever since Edward Bramah (1932-2008) moved the Bramah Museum of Tea & Coffee to the area in 1999. Tea drinkers remember Edward and the final resting place of the tea and coffee museum at 38-40 Southwark Street. While the Coffee House and exhibition will return to Samuel Pepys’s beloved City, the teatime hour will have a new home at Gagarin Square, on the first floor public terrace. Here, Edward’s collection of memorabilia, pots, kettles, biscuit barrels, and urns will no longer be a rigid, chronologically arranged group of artefacts kept behind the glass doors of cabinets.
Instead, morning or afternoon tea will be brought to life using attention-grabbing tableaux displays, as found in world class museums such as the noted Tawhiti Museum in New Zealand. The resident Art Academy students will mould 18th and 19th century ladies and gentlemen, while costume and set designers of the theatre will provide period dress. An early Victorian morning room, for example, gives a sense of the social setting of an English middle class family gathering.
The Tea Room will provide visitors with an immersive history of tea, from its origins to the place it has held in our society through the ages. Despite the fact that the tea has existed in England ever since the East India Company placed its first order in 1664, there is no museum in London dedicated to the history of our national drink. And this is not a tame history – visitors’ eyes will be opened wide when they see that smuggling, riots, fashion and royalty have all played a part in the tales of tea through the centuries.
Having soaked up the history, a tea-loving visitor will then be able to sit down to a pot of real tea and indulge in the celebrated teatime ritual between midday and 5pm. Sitting in the café on the Gagarin Square terrace with views over the roof gardens as well as sculpture and art displays, there will be no better place to enjoy an expertly brewed cup of tea with a delicious array of delicacies. The Gagarin Square Tea Rooms will provide Bankside and its visitors from as far away as China with a choice of real teas to buy and enjoy.