Inside London’s latest cocktail bar – curated by Tilda Swinton

Tea, cocktails and Tilda Swinton. What's not to love?

This October, London is welcoming a new tea and cocktail bar to its bustling Covent Garden scene – and its menu is as much about the books as it is about tea.

The new venue, Teatulia, is a tiny tea shop, cocktail bar and literary salon all rolled in one.

The intimate 16-cover venue, library and retail space boasts a varied tea and cocktail menu, as well as an ever-changing array of specially curated books – the current selection chosen by Tilda Swinton.

Officially opening on October 15th on Covent Garden’s Neal Street, Teatulia will serve six different types of tea by day, and by night the bar will serve up a selection of tea-based cocktails.

Bengal Builder’s is the signature tea; a rich, dark blend served with milk, and nearly as caffeinated as coffee for your morning cup (all teas are £3 for a cup or £5 a pot). The rest of the tea menu is made up of refreshing green teas, jasmine tea, Oolong, ginger and lemongrass.

Cocktail highlights include the Builder’s Bourbon and a Lemongrass Mojito, though there are mocktails including the Chai Spiced Hot Toddy.

Designed by Russell Sage Studios (the masterminds behind the Dishoom and Tamarind Kitchen interiors), the new space mixes up Art Deco and mid-century influences.

A curved black terrazzo topped bar will lead you through the space, past display shelves housing a rainbow of colourful tea tins.

At the back, visitors are lured away from the hustle and bustle with stylish bookshelves packed wall-to-wall with a patchwork of ever changing and hand selected books.

Like a home from home, there’s even a vinyl player for customers to play records on.

‘The Living Bookshelf’, as coined by Tilda Swinton, will be a monthly selection curated by notable writers, actors, musicians and filmmakers. The first bookshelf is curated by Swinton herself.

“Reading and tea leaves go together like breathing in and breathing out,” the actress says of her inaugural selection. “Go slow. Take time to brew yourself some harmony. Separate the signal from the noise.”

We don’t need telling twice.

Swinton was introduced to the project by Teatulia’s founders Ahsan Akbar and K. Anis Ahmed, writers themselves, and entrepreneurs in tea.

The founders also run the Dhaka Lit Fest, Bangladesh’s leading literary festival, which attracts internationally renowned writers from around the world.

With an ongoing programme of book launches, readings and events, they hope that Teatulia will become an essential and supportive part of London’s literary scene.

Teatulia will also be the first tea shop in London to have total ownership of its provenance, with very tea leaf on the menu hand-picked from the Teatulia garden in northern Bangladesh.

Where other tea companies source from a number of different providers, Teatulia teas all come from this one garden.

100% organic and Rainforest Alliance certified, the fully sustainable garden is now a flourishing ecosystem, populated by dozens of endangered plant and animal species.

What’s more, since planting the teas, literary rates in the area have risen over 50%.

Now there’s something we can drink to.

Teatulia officially opens on October 15 but it is currently open on soft launch with half price teas and tea pots.

36 Neal Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9PS. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am–10pm. Sundays, 10am–7pm.​ / @barteatulia

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