I think one of the most relaxing things to do in Seoul is go to a teashop in Insadong. Even when the main shopping area is hectic with tourists, the back street teashops are calm and inviting. And lots of teashops don’t just sell tea either – you can get a pot of makali or various other Korean alcoholic drinks if you like – but today it was tea for me. I have my regular haunt in Insadong, but I wanted to try somewhere new. I found some info online about the Beautiful Tea Museum which has tea exhibitions and sells various teas and ceramic and glass teapots. There’s a cafe too of course. This sounded perfect.
The shop area has various types of green tea, blue tea, black tea, brown tea, herbal tea, and flower tea for sale from Korea, Japan, and China.
Everything is carefully laid out so even the shop feels like an exhibition. Quirky ceramic and glass teapots and cups are for sale in different styles too.
The cafe has a modern and airy feel but is actually built in a renovated hanuk traditional Korean house. Actually, I was expecting more stuff in the shop and even more in the exhibition area since it is called a ‘museum’, but the main emphasis here seems to be the cafe with a small exhibition space and shop attached.
But the atmosphere is serene and calming. And the staff seem to know what they are talking about. It was quite a chunky menu and I took a while to choose what I wanted. But in the end I had one of the green teas (a little bit bitter and sweet).
The waitress brought the tray and a kettle to the table. First, she poured hot water into the little glass teapot and then without waiting poured it straight out from the teapot into the glass jug. You don’t want to let it brew at all – it gets very strong and bitter that way – (I found that out later when i was doing it myself).
The kettle is left on the table so that I can keep refilling the teapot as many times as I like. I refilled the pot at least 4 times and the tea leaves were still going strong.
Other teashops serve rice cakes with their tea for free. But here they must be ordered from the menu. The tea is not particularly cheap either – it depends what you order but the prices start at around 8,000 won. A green tea made with fresh new leaves is 10,000 won. Some of the Chinese teas get more expensive depending on how old the leaves are.
But I think it’s well worth it. After an hour or so in the cafe, I felt so calm and relaxed. In fact, every time I go to a teashop I think to myself that I must do this more often. And I must start learning more about tea!