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Piacha, Islington

I'm told it's Afternoon Tea Week, which is good news as it gives me an excuse to tell you about Piacha, a gorgeous little tea bar on Angel's Upper Street. With artisanal, organic, cold brew hipster coffee joints everywhere you look - not to mention the suffocating monopoly of bloody Starbucks and the like - its a refreshing change to see somewhere embracing the restorative properties of a nice cuppa.

Piacha has been open for around 6 months or so now and is the brainchild of Pia, a warm, welcoming Finnish ex-lawyer with a passion for a proper cup of tea. Fed up with the search, she opened Piacha and strives to offer super high quality teas alongside healthy - or indulgent! - snacks in a relaxed environment. She's definitely achieved it; Piacha is a haven of calm, chilled out Scandi cool (well aware Finland is not in Scandinavia thanks) and I could feel my shoulders lowering with every minute there.

Choose from the vast selection of tea blends displayed, from the wacky (Black & Cherry or Rooibos Rhubarb Fudge) to the high end (Oolong Iron Mercy or Mao Feng Green) to the traditional (Assam, Earl Grey Vanilla) and the well versed staff will help match your mood to your brew. Here's Pia helping Leo with a berry infusion!

All teas are loose leaf, but they have a very snazzy way of brewing the teas carefully for you, so you have no need to mess around with strainers. I started with a soothing White Tea with Pine needles, which proved refreshing and uplifting and light years away from anything I'd tried in a white tea before. Pia talked me through lots of different blends of tea, and the most memorable of the bunch were the Ginger Chilli (warming, spicy, energising), the Liquorice Mix (a big thing in Nordic countries) and the Apple Green Tea (made me feel like I was in a Turkish market - in a good way). Leo insisted on trying them all and loved every one, then he was treated to his very own baby hot chocolate whilst we surveyed the baked goods...

There's a good selection of tempting cakes and sandwiches with many ingredients (like Rye bread) sourced from Borough Market. The Chocolate Tiffin cake I had a nibble of was dangerously good. Pia is pretty into health and wellbeing, so the sandwiches were full of good nutritious fillings, like this smoked salmon with Genmaicha:

The menu gives suggestions of tea pairings, which is just brilliant and I can easily imagine whiling away the hours here working my way through several tea flights. And perhaps some more of that chocolate tiffin...

If you're a matcha fan (and why wouldn't you be? Fat burning, crazy levels of antioxidants and tasty to boot) then I urge you to try the matcha latte here. Don't be put off by the sickly sweet calorie laden versions you may have tried at the big coffee shop chains; Piacha's matcha powder is blended with mint and makes for a divinely green, rounded whole leaf cup of goodness at a fraction of the calorie count. It was so good I bought a pot to take home and since then I've made my own matcha smoothies in my Nutribullet A LOT. I highly recommend you try it with spinach, apple and coconut milk - a nutritional powerhouse.

Do pop in to Piacha - you won't think of tea in the same way again.

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