Now you know what to look for from a truly authentic teahouse and you’re on the hunt for some excellent tea and a tranquil Zen ambiance perfect for truly getting lost in those tasting notes, here are our suggestions for some of the greatest teahouse experiences in and around Taipei.
1 – Wisteria Teahouse
(Click here for Wisteria Teahouse Website)
Today it’s still buzzing with that intellectual vibe, and regularly holds art exhibitions, discussions, tea culture classes and performances of ancient musical instruments. Expect serenity as soon as you step into the leafy yard, don a pair of wooden sandals, cast your eyes over the poetic descriptions of teas, and settle into the tatami for a few hours.
(Click here for Zen Zoo Teahouse Website)
Address: Taipei, Neihu District, Neihu Road, Section 2, Lane 103, No. 38.
Zen Zoo is one of our favorite spots, stroll around the nearby lake on a sunny day. Tea is served in a beautiful hodge-podge of Japanese handmade ceramics with that wabisabi feeling of poised, deliberate imperfection, the delicious Japanese-inspired desserts are impressively made from scratch, including matcha-flavour ice cream with red bean paste and handmade mochi. Set meals here are also divine, with a focus on local and traditional Taiwanese cooking styles. The decor is very zen-like, with places to sit on tatami mats, antique furniture and calming outdoor spaces. You can also indulge in some ceramic teaware sets and tea to take home.
(Click here for Sanxitang Teahouse Website)
Address: Taipei, Shilin District, Zhishan Road, Section 2, No. 221.
Step up top to the grandiose teahouse on the top floor, and you’ll not only be treated to delicious tea, dim sum snacks and Chinese food and desserts (go hungry, it’s a good menu!), but they also host regular performances of traditional instruments by beautifully decked-out women and stunning panoramic views of the nearby mountain scenery and architecture of the National Palace Museum. The teahouse is named after the wing of the Forbidden Palace where Emperor Qianlong kept three ancient scrolls.
4 – Yaoyue Teahouse, Maokong
(Click here for Yaoyue Teahouse)
Address: Taipei, Wenshan District, Zhinan Road, Section 3, Lane 40, No. 6.
No teahouse list in Taipei would be complete without a foray up the gondola to the Maokong mountains south of the city. It’s become a tourist honey trap and weekends can be quite frantic, but hop on a carriage up during the weekdays on a warm afternoon and you’ll not only find beautiful views overlooking the city skyline, but also bustling teahouses filled with older generations of locals relaxing over a steaming pot and a luxuriously fragrant lunch. Yaoyue Teahouse is famous for their creative menu which offers several dishes cooked with tea leaves and bitter teaseed oil (oolong-infused dumplings, anyone?).
Remember to bring your mosquito repellent if you want to enjoy sitting out on the covered verandas, surrounded by verdant mountain scenery. They even serve tea from their very own tea garden right there in Maokong, and the staff are particularly friendly and willing to show you the ropes of the tea ceremony. If you’re feeling adventurous, then pair your teahouse trip with a short hike to the nearby Buddhist temple caves with a 30 meter waterfall dropping over the top of it.
5 – Stop By Teahouse
(Click here for Stop By Teahouse website)
Address: Taipei, Da’an District, Lishui Street, Lane 13, No. 9.
An intimate teahouse run by a couple of wonderfully inviting tea masters who emit an air of joyous youthfulness and calm wisdom, this little escape in the back alleyways is a perfect follow-up to a stroll through the infamous food and shopping streets of Yongkangjie. A beautifully tended garden leads into a bright sunny space where modern design meets traditional touches. The owners will delight in telling you all about their teas and custom-designed tea ware sets. If it’s too hot for a brew, try their cold-brewed teas served up artfully in chemistry test tubes.
The owners also hand-make fresh snacks each day according to recipes of their own devising, especially delicious are their bright pink bean paste balls of dragonfruit and grape with dried cranberries sprinkled on top, and white kidney beans and dates rolls. Downstairs in the cellar they’ve also created a special place for performances and tea ceremonies, with a gully of water flowing around the whole room beneath your feet.