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Tea Room vs. Tea House vs. Tea Shop & Tea Bars – What's the Real Difference?

The differences between a Tea Room, Tea House, Tea Shop and Tea Bar are defined on what they serve or what is available to purchase at each type of establishment. As drinking tea is more 'on trend' than ever with its perceived health benefits and how trying something new is so appealing to Millennials, tea is no longer just for the older generation, but the terms to describe various tea places is getting quite confused, so lets go back and look at what they traditional mean.

“The Tea Room”

This is a place where you can enjoy a selection of quality loose leaf teas, light lunches and most importantly afternoon tea (finger sandwiches, scones and pastries served on a cake stand). Tea shops, tea houses and cafes do not serve afternoon tea. Most tea rooms sell the tea they serve and sometimes are inside a gift shop or store and they might sell a small selection of tea wear. You go to a tearoom to experience the tea AND the food, which is enjoyed in a relaxing leisurely environment. Tea rooms are typically set-up in a room or rooms of a period house or as a separate room in a hotel. More are starting to pop-up in historical buildings to help fund their restoration and upkeep.

“The Tea House”

A Tea House is dedicated to the serving and the drinking of, high quality loose leaf teas - exclusively and often pertains to Japanese, Chinese or Asian customs of the Tea Ceremony. In a traditional Tea House you don’t get food, you just savor the tea. Unfortunately, in the USA the tea house has become interchangeable with the tea room (which serves high tea/afternoon tea and food) but strictly these are two very different types of business and experiences which their guests enjoy.

“The Tea Shop & Tea Bar”

A Tea Shop is a place you buy loose leaf tea. There may be 100’s of blends and options to choose from. Tea is not made for you to consume by the pot or cup, only samples of some are available to help you select which tea you will purchase to take home. These tea shops also sell a range of tea wears and some also offer a café setting with cakes and pastries to go along with tea sold by the cup or pot. They do not serve afternoon tea. Tea Bars have started to pop up in some tea shops where they also serve tea at a counter by the cup.

So no matter what the establishment calls its self, you now have a better understanding of how to refer to your favorite tea place and you can tell your friends all about it.

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