Then I left the country for few years but I kept in touch with my friends, receiving more and more upsetting reviews from them. Many of them felt progressively let down by the uber-smart owner who kept promising teas ("coming in few weeks time") which never arrived (in three years!), teaware that never arrived, the 'always coming' newsletter that no one ever received, and so on.
As a consequence, many of my friends now buy teas directly from MingCha in Hong Kong or from Postcard Teas in London, skipping the owner's pretentious chit-chat. But I wanted to see for myself, so as soon I as touched down (last week), I made my way back to TeaSmith with my wife.
We found a charming and knowledgeable Italian girl, who carefully guided us through several infusions of phoenix sung special, oriental beauty and dong ding oolong. I immediately felt at home, exploring the teas while time was passing by without any effort, listening with real pleasure to her talking with other customers and articulating her genuine passion for teas.
The place still looks great, although it is true that there are no teapots (well, apparently the only one left was on display), no strainers and items that one would expect to find in a teashop. I found instead expensive big cups and bowls, some japanese toys(?) and practical (albeit ugly) glass infuser pots.
There are still exceptional teas as it is claimed (which are still enchanting my tasting buds), although is noticeable that the tea selection is wider now but less interesting - lots of green oolongs from Taiwan and very little on the Chinese and darker side.
Clearly the credit crunch hit the place hard. It is not even possible to pay by card any more, obliging sorry customers like us to wait endlessly at the cash machine nearby. This also means that I can't buy teas over the phone either, given that one can't order from the outdated website.
What a pity that such a lovely place (and lovely staff) is let down by incomprehensible business choices, unreliability and, it seems, inconsistent attention to what building solid relationships with customers that care really means.
by simon.perry70, 18 Aug 2010
by susanharri (7 reviews), 26 Jan 2010
by ankitforu, 13 Nov 2009
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