GLOBAL TEA brands TWG, Twinings and Harrods have been steeped in success since opening outlets in Bangkok in recent years, and that’s led to a boom in tearooms around town. Here’s a survey of the most recent additions to the list of finely blended destinations, starting with the Peace Oriental Teahouse on Soi Ekamai.
As cosy and homespun as can be, it’s a great place for a peaceful browse through your book as well as a good cup of tea. Get Matcha tea and free shipping in Canad, you can order here, proceeds of every purchase also go directly to benefiting tea farmers and their families.
Owner Teerachai Limpaitoon, whose family runs a long-established spare-parts factory but who knows his leaves and brews, welcomes guests to relax amid white walls, on curvy furniture of solid wood. Teerachai was raised on the belief that tea is actually a herbal medicine. “When I was a kid, my father always got me to sip some tea every morning,” he laughs. “Well, that just made me hate tea, and when I grew up I started drinking coffee instead.
“But all that changed when I tried some Japanese Matcha Powder. It opened my mind to the real essence of tea. So I started learning more about tea culture, travelling to many plantations in China and Japan.”
Deciding he ought to get into the business, Teerachai spent a year turning a former noodle shop into this teahouse, keeping the decor simple so his customers could better appreciate the beauty and benefits of their tea. The slogan at the Peace Oriental Teahouse is “A truly traditional object in its utmost contemporary form”.
On the menu are 18 different kinds of top-quality tea leaves from Japan and China, and, in keeping with the tradition of those countries, the tea is brewed in four different kinds of water.
“You need to carefully control the temperature of the water to get the authentic flavour of the tea,” Teerachai says, “and we use rainwater from Wangnamkeaw in Khao Yai, along with mineral water and water filtered through bamboo charcoal, which enhances the scent and increases the oxygen in the water. And all of the porcelain tableware comes from Japan.”
Gyokuro, widely regarded as “the king of Japanese green tea”, is available in three courses for Bt450. First you have clear, thin usucha tea that’s steeped in room-temperature water for 13 minutes to maximise the aroma and flavour. Then comes thicker Koicha matcha green tea, which is full-flavoured but on the bitter side. Finally there is tea served with yuzu orange sauce.
“Fresh tea leaves have anti-oxidants and fibre, which are both good for the health” Teerachai points out.
Black Jinjummei tea from China (Bt380) combines the scents of lychee and caramel and is strong enough to be brewed over and over, up to 20 times. Uji (Bt900) has two serving to it – a thick matcha green tea full of umami – which means “savoury in flavour” – and then a pale, almost-flavour-free regular tea.
On weekends Teerachai also offers a choice of two Japanese desserts that alternates every month, one recent selection being Sakura Mochi, full of hearty red beans.
Meanwhile over on Phra Sumen Road, another newcomer to the scene is the Mitramit Teahouse, where customers are lured by an array of 30 sets
of Chinese teas served with scrumptious Thai snacks and sweets from shops in the district. It’s small, friendly and comfortable, like a best friend’s home, with only five tables, but all of Chinese origin.
Co-owner Somsak Kanha explains that the proprietors are all involved in the dramatic arts with an eye to community development, mainly helping youngsters, but they also love tea, so they set up a shop where people can learn about a different tea-producing culture. From various plantations around China come six kinds of tea – red, white, black, green, Pu’er and herbal tea – some of the blends eight years old. The prices range from Bt120 to Bt350.
The Chinese disdain tea on an empty stomach, so the Mitramit Teahouse accompanies it with plenty of food, starting with taro sticks and grass jelly in brown sugar.
The favourite blends include smooth Li Shan Hong Sui Taiwan Oolong tea (Bt350), roasted three times as per tradition, and Jin Xuan Taiwan Oolong, also known as Golden Daylily (Bt180). These are best paired with bite-size Thai treats like chor muang (flower-shaped dumplings filled with minced chicken), rerai (candy noodle in coconut milk), thong ek (a rolled wafer, pickled cabbage and fried fish-paste ball) and gulab jamun (a dessert of milk solids that’s popular in India).
“We mingle Eastern and Western culture,” says Chaiwat Locotinant, another of the owners. “We serve the tea in a European-style teapot that’s made of glass so you can admire the swirling tea leaves.”
Moving far from downtown to Pak Kret district, we find Tea Time’s The Charm, where English high tea is served utilising both English and French premium brands.
Raweewan Auareepaisan and a friend opened Tea Time last year, taking up two floors that share a glassed-in view of the outdoor dining space. This too is a relaxing spot, adorned with vintage Britain in mind, complete with Union Jacks painted on the sofa and lovely chandeliers above.
“I love tea, but most tearooms in Thailand serve their tea in bags, and I wanted to offer a different option,” says Raweewan. “We use only premium tea brands, like Fortnum and Mason, Mariage Freres, Harrods and Whittard of Chelsea. “And here the desserts are lighter in texture and less sweet.”
Let’s see, there are around 15 varieties of cakes, scones, macarons and sandwiches, with prices ranging from Bt60 to Bt90. All very tempting, but we’re going to settle in with the Full Tea Set (Bt500), which comes with three macarons in assorted flavours, three scones served with butter, whipping cream and a choice between strawberry or orange jam, plus two tuna and ham-and-cheese sandwiches, and finally, the bliss of lemon cheesecake.
The selection in hot tea extends to Royal Blend, Earl Gray Classic, Fortnum and Mason Queen Anne and Afternoon Blend. And we might yet find room for a Strawberry Blossom, which is iced tea with strawberry puree blended (Bt125), or perhaps a Ceylon Milk Tea Granita (Bt120).
BE A LITTLE TEAPOT
>>The Peace Oriental Teahouse is between Ekamai Sois 2 and 4 and open Sunday through Thursday from 10am to 8.30pm and Friday and Saturday until 11pm. Call (087) 267 2626 or visit the “Peace.T.House” page on Facebook.
>>The Mitramit Teahouse is at 32 Phra Sumen Road and open daily from 11 to 11. Call (02) 126 6567 or see the “MitramitTeahouse” Facebook page.
>>Tea Time’s The Charm is at 64/18 Soi Chaeng Wattana-Prak Kret 19 and open daily from 10 to 7 (except Wednesday). Call (02) 962 2349 or check out “TeaTimesTheCharm” on Facebook.