I spent a good part of last year traveling throughout Korea, doing research for my travel guide, Frommer’s South Korea (which is coming out in June!). While my aunt and I were following the signs that pointed to the Chicken Museum, we got lost in a hilly street that was winding its way up behind the Blue House (the Korean version of the White House and where the president lives) in the Samcheong-dong neighborhood of Seoul.
We chanced upon this beautiful tea house overlooking the city. Inside was a small garden with a man-made stone trough and water lilies floating inside. Surrounding the green space were rough-hewn wooden tables where you drink tea.
We took off our shoes at the door and stepped up to the shiny wooden floors. The lovely ladies, who ran the place, invited us in and sat us at a table with a view of both the city and the garden. Their menu had a good listing of traditional Korean teas, not cheap, by any means, but you were paying for the atmosphere as much as the beverage itself. They gave us our own thermos full of hot water and some toasted pumpkin seeds and Korean sweets made from sesame seeds. Teas ranged from 6,000 to 10,000 Won.
My aunt chose the “memil cha” (“memil” is buckwheat and “cha” means tea). The buckwheat tea is made from the toasted grains, which make for a mellow, pleasantly nutty tea. It was a beautiful honey color. To be honest with you, I don’t remember which tea I had (but you can see it pictured above), but it was something light and fragrant. Just perfect for a windy spring afternoon.
If you happen to be in Seoul, go to Samcheong-dong and follow the signs to the Tibetan Museum. Just up the way (on the opposite side of the street) you’ll see a traditional looking building and the inner courtyard. The name of the tea house translates to “a garden where you drink tea..”
Come to think of it, I never did find that chicken museum!
Cha Massi-neun Ddeul
35-169 beonji, Samcheong-dong
open daily 11 am – 10:30 pm