Chiang Mai has many culinary riches: hearty bowls of khao soi, spicy sai oua sausage, excellent Arabica coffee. Increasingly, the northern Thai capital has started to take the cake for tea, too.
The sun-rich and often wet climate of famously mountainous northern Thailand makes it an ideal growing ground for the ancient Chinese bushes. It’s no wonder that the beating heart of the region, the bustling city of Chiang Mai, has become a hot spot for truly excellent tea houses and producers.
While tea often comes from neighboring Chiang Rai, tea-drinking culture in northern Thailand doesn’t get any better than it does in the metropolis to the south. The quality of blends, venues and afternoon tea services to experience are some of the classiest in the country.
To savor tea culture at its finest, add these places and experiences to your Chiang Mai itinerary.
The Inside House
This sumptuous boutique hotel on a pumping artery road within the old town gives another nod to beautiful Lanna era architecture with its modern take on the “gingerbread” house. Ornate gables and pastel colors decorate the exterior and interior courtyard. Aside from the decadent ensuite swimming pools, a favorite perk of staying here is the afternoon tea service included in the package. Lavish pastries and baked goods presented on a finely carved mini-stupa and tiered plates keep on flowing from the kitchen. Non-guests can also book the afternoon tea, though. Trust us – it’s worth it.
56 Samlarn Rd.; www.the-insidehouse.com
Raming Tea House
Producing tea in the hills of Chiang Mai since 1941, the Wangwiwat family opened its Raming Tea House 20 years ago. This elegant cafe, located within a Lanna-style wooden “gingerbread” house, is a charming oasis in the heart of Chiang Mai. Just a few minutes by foot from Thaphae Gate, it boasts a huge garden with a delightful pond and flourishing trees and plants. The setting makes for a quaint place to tuck into brunch and sample some of Raming’s range of organic local teas, ranging from green to Assam and beyond. For something slightly different, try their craft tea range, which includes Siamese Earl Grey (black tea blended with kaffir lime and citrus) and Peach Echo (black tea with peach oil and beetroot).