What is the best souvenir from London to give or receive? If you ask me, the answer is definitely t-e-a.
Everyone has his or her favorite tea shop in London. Iconic brands such as Harrods, Twinings and Fortnum & Mason are popular with tourists for their tantalizing offerings, gorgeous packaging and -- for the latter two stores -- the status-affirming royal warrants. (Harrods severed its royal connection in 2000. Find out why here.)
However, if you are looking for something a bit less mainstream, and a little more exclusive (and expensive), I would highly recommend a visit to The East India Company in Mayfair.
Inside the sumptuously decorated shop you will find over 120 varieties of tea, coffee blends from around the world, chocolates, biscuits, jams and condiments, all beautifully presented and ready to gift.
There is also an exquisite selection of colorful and delicate teapots and teacups, where one mug can set you back anywhere from £30 to £300.
東印度公司的旗艦店位於倫敦的西區中心，緊鄰 Bond Street 購物街與有名的 Sketch 藝術餐廳。
喝好茶當然想要用好茶杯，不過若想買東印度公司自產的茶壺與茶杯，最好存些錢再來，因為一只鮮艷精緻的骨瓷杯就要 30 - 300 英鎊不等。
Upon first glance everything in the store seems expensive, but if you're only shopping for tea, the price point of The East India Company (EIC) products is really not that much higher than its competitors.
For example, the hugely popular Earl Grey tea bags are available from all four tea giants -- EIC, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Twinings -- for under £4.00 per box. I personally prefer the blends from the EIC and F&M, for they carry a stronger note of Bergamot, have a fuller body, and the aroma lingers in the air long after the tea is gone.
Selling luxury foods and drinks under the banner of one of the most powerful corporate names in history is bound to have some pros and cons. It's certainly advantageous to have a 400-year-old brand that millions have already heard of, but not necessarily so when the brand is often associated with the ugliness of British colonialism.
So, when the historic name was acquired by an Indian entrepreneur and relaunched as a consumer brand focusing on luxury foods, the new enterprise was quick to highlight The East India Company's notable contributions.
Browsing through the store's eclectic selection of tasty treats from around the world, I'm happy that The East India Company has been given a new lease of life, which in turn gives a whole new generation the chance to experience delicacies inspired by our past.