Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been learning to love mate, but at times you’re just gasping for a cup of tea that you don’t have to drink through a metal straw. Luckily, Buenos Aires boasts a myriad of tea houses, offering easy access to the 5 o’clock delight for those times when nothing else will do.
From tea sommeliers to afternoon tea, let me spill the tea on the best places to grab a brew in Buenos Aires. My cup runneth over.
Also, FYI: I’ve excluded the big chains like Tea Connection, because come on – they might be good, but you’re better than that.
El Gato Negro
Any list of tea houses would not be complete without the grandfather of the Buenos Aires tea scene, El Gato Negro. Of the same generation as Café Tortoni, El Gato Negro is a less ostentatious café, focusing instead on supplying goods of the highest quality.
Opened by the Spaniard Victoriano López Robredo in 1928 as a spice business, El Gato Negro sells a wide variety of teas, stored in large glass jars that have a whiff of the pharmaceutical about them. The experience is all very traditional, keeping with the legacy of its revered founder, with wooden counters and chandeliers overhead.
While you can buy from their online store, definitely go to the shop itself if you can. The smell of all the spices and the hand-roasted coffee is absolutely incredible and it really is what sets this place apart from all the other cafés BA has to offer. They also provide a staggering variety of teas to sample along with your morning medialuna, with black, green and red tea blends, chai, teas imported from China and home-grown varieties from northernmost Misiones province.
El Gato Negro has become fairly touristy, having been heavily plugged by the city’s tourism board, but it is still worth a visit for an authentic taste of old-world Buenos Aires.
Mon 9 AM – 10 PM, Tue 9 AM – 11 PM, Wed and Thur 9AM – 12AM, Fri and Sat 9AM – 2AM, Sun 3PM – 11PM | El Gato Negro | Avenida Corrientes 1669
While El Gato Negro tries its best to be faithful to Argentine traditions, Buddha BA offers a more authentic Chinese tea-drinking experience. Found on the corner of Olazábal and Arribeños, it opened in the heart of the Barrio Chino in 2005 and has been a cornerstone of the area ever since.
Ever the overachiever, it really offers a full day out, combining a tea salon with a restaurant and a small art gallery, which is currently exhibiting the work of Chinese painter Yi Enrong.
We were here for one thing and one thing only however, and the salon de té is definitely worth a visit. We found the waiting staff very attentive and eager to explain the different teas to us, and what is really enjoyable is the ambience of the salon: despite the rush of noise outside, it is a peaceful and authentic experience which allows you to sample teas imported from China, from the simple, such as green tea, to the more complex, such as pu-erh with chrysanthemum.
You can order snacks alongside your tea but it’s all fairly uninspiring stuff. The tea is the real draw here, all served in traditional Chinese-style ceramics. We sampled a particularly light and fresh green tea with jasmine, which tasted floral without being heady.
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If you feel inspired by your experience and want to recreate it at home, just further along Arribeños you can find Punto T, a veritable treasure trove for all the tea paraphernalia your heart could possibly desire.
Restaurant: Tue to Fri 8 PM – 12 AM, Sat 12.30 PM – 3PM and 8 PM – 12AM, Sunday 12.30 PM – 3 PM | Salon de Té: Tue to Thur 12.30 PM – 8 PM | Gallery: Tue to Sun 1 PM – 7 PM | Buddha BA | Arribeños 2288, Chinatown
Don’t judge Tealosophy by its incredibly annoying website, this little tea house in the heart of Palermo is a tea lover’s dream come true. Nestled away down a little passageway just off Gorriti, the shop itself stocks over 100 varieties of tea stored in rather austere black tins, all of which are imported (as the sales assistant proudly tells me).
Run by Ines Berton since 2001, Tealosophy dominates the Buenos Aires tea scene. You can find their product sold all over the city, such as in the mainstay of the San Telmo merienda scene, Alice’s Tea House. Their tea menu features eleven of Berton’s blends, including the exclusive “Alice’s Blend,” a sickeningly sweet mix of black tea, cherries, almonds, Venezuelan cacao, Madagascan vanilla, and rose petals. The perfect thing to refuel after a hard morning’s shop at the market.
Una publicación compartida de Priscila Catão (@priscila.catao) el
In Palermo, in order to actually sample the teas, you have to sit down at the stall outside the shop, run by the Palermo Hollywood pasteleros Decata. They have four varieties of tea available: back tea, ‘royal fruit’ (a black tea blended with mango, peach, and hibiscus flower, inspired by the perfumes of Brazil), Darjeeling and green tea, as well as two infusions: verbena and winter apple. I chose the green tea as well as a slice of coconut cake (because you know, balance). The tea was aromatic and without the bitterness that I have come to expect, with a pleasant subtle flavor.
Drinking your tea at Tealosophy is a really lovely experience. The narrow passageway is filled with greenery from Annette Plants and Flowers, so you can sit sipping your drink and feel like you’re sitting in someone’s garden, before you go lust over the interiors at the Paul French gallery next door.
Mon to Fri 10.30AM – 8PM, Sat 10.30AM – 2.30PM | Avenida Alvear 1883 | Tealosophy Galería Promenade
Mon to Sat 11AM – 7.30PM, Holidays 2PM – 7.30PM | Gorriti 4865 | Tealosophy Palermo
El Club del Té
If you’re now feeling inspired to immerse yourself in the world of tea, then definitely turn to El Club del Té. Situated in the heart of Recoleta, they offer a fully interactive tea experience to amateurs and professionals alike.
The entry-level program is the ‘Introduction to Tea’ course, but you can work your way up to Tea Tasting, Tea Sommelier, or even Tea Blender (!), which teaches you how to make your own unique tea blends and is aimed at those hoping to leave it all behind and open their own tea-based business (the dream). See, learning can be fun.
However, if you just want to drink as much tea as possible in a short amount of time and aren’t too fussed about all that learning nonsense, you should try one of their tea tastings. Each event focuses on a particular type of tea, such as red, black, or Ceylan, and offers you the opportunity to taste a variety of related teas and find your all time favorite.
Additionally, if after all this tea you feel like you need a glass of the strong stuff, have no fear: they even offer tea-based cocktail courses, so that you can get your drink on while still being cultural and refined. From matcha G and T’s to earl grey Negronis, you can get elegantly smashed and take home the recipes so you can repeat the experience at home!
Prices vary for each course and tasting, so it’s best to find your favorite and contact them via their website.
Now isn’t that just tea-rrific.
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