March 10, 2010

Wisteria Tea House

Many tea houses are available in Taipei for people to spend time alone or with their friends and enjoy a pot of tea in a relaxing, artistic, and literacy environment. We came to Wisteria Tea House (紫藤廬) located across street from National Taiwan University for the late afternoon tea. Wisteria Tea House is not only just a tea house, but also a city historical site. I am not an expert of the tea, since the knowledge of the tea is so broad and in-depth. But I would like to share with you what I have learned from Wisteria Tea House.

Wisteria Tea House was built in 1921. Prior to 1945, it was a high official residence of Taiwan during the Japanese Colonial Era. In 1950, it was given to Mr. Zhou Dewei, the director of custom. It was named for “Wisteria Tea House” in 1981 and operated by Mr. Zhou’s son-Zhou, Yu.

Wisteria Tea House was a cultural landmark that played an important role in the history of the opposition movement of the government in the 80’s. Now it is a place for art exhibition, local seminar, and gathering friends. We arrived there after the sunset, did not take pictures of the exterior, but only the interior.

There are a several rooms available inside- a room with sitting chairs and tables, a large room with the Japanese Tatami flooring, and small private rooms with Japanese Tatami flooring to be reserved for a larger party. We selected a corner table on the Tatami flooring in the larger room. The minimum cost per person is NT 250 ($8 US) with a selection of your favorite tea.

We selected Onlong tea and also ordered a plate of Green Bean Cakes for the snack.

There are variety methods in making tea. Tea can be made in a glass or a porcelain cup. Tea can also be made in a tea pot, which is the restaurant serving style. However, the Lao Ren Tea (老人茶) was what we had in Wisteria Tea House.

Lao Ren Tea represents an art which means taking time to prepare, smell, and drink. A tea set includes a small tea pot, tea mug, short and tall tea cups, and wooden tea spoon….etc. A glass pot for water and an alcohol lamp are also needed.

Onlong tea is better to prepare in a clay pot, and green tea in a porcelain tea pot, since clay pot has pores that can absorb the tea flavor.

Here is the demonstration:

Pouring hot water from the glass pot into a small clay pot and then pouring out the water into the Cha Hai (茶海) (black tall mug)

Pouring out the hot water from Cha Hai to the Wen Xiang Cup (文香杯) (the taller white cup for us to smell the fragrance of the tea) and Rukou Cup (入口杯) (the shorter white cup for us to drink the tea). The processes above are to warm up the clay pot, black tall mug, and two small cups.

Adding Onlong tea leaves by using the wooden tea spoon into the clay pot.

Pouring hot water into the pot with 90% full and letting it sit for 5 seconds to make tea.

Pouring the tea out completely into Cha Hai (black tall mug), and then pouring the tea from Cha Hai to Wen Xiang Cup (the white tall cup). The lady told us to pour out the tea completely to avoid bitter taste in the next cup. Now we were asked to smell the Wen Xiang Cup when it was full with tea. Afterwards, pour it into the Rukou Cup to drink. Now we were asked to smell the empty Wen Xiang Cup. The Wen Xiang Cup indeed had the fresh tea leave fragrances before and after the tea!

Repeat all these processes to make more cups of tea. She told us that if we needed to maintain the temperature of the clay pot, the “Lin Hou” (淋壺) process would be needed, which was to pour the hot water directly over the closed lid tea pot.

It’s not easy to make a cup of good tea, isn’t it? There are still more in-depth skills and knowledge I need to learn. Now, we just wanted to enjoy the tea and green bean cakes with reading a couple of good books!

Wisteria Tea House Website (in Chinese) Read More

17 comments:

fufu said...

wow wow wow... somehow i feel it's like japanese tea ceremony... i mean can compete with japanese one!! simply awesome!!

1ondoncalling said...

I learnt how to make proper Chinese tea from my father.
He's an avid Chinese tea pot (紫砂壺) collector.
Personally, I prefer cold tea to hot tea! Ha ha...

That's very Japanese! Ha ha...
They just need a couple of kotatsu (炬燵) to complete the picture!

micki and kristen said...

To Fufu and Londoncaller- I am not familiar with how Japanese tea is prepared, but this is how "Lao Ren Tea" (老人茶) prepared in Taiwan. Perhaps the room environment with Japanese Tatami flooring makes it look like Japanese~~

阿牛 said...

:)

Rafael Lam said...

It's a really nice tea house and I love the green bean cakes,
I think only can buy it in Taiwan...
I've only been a traditional green house in 九份 before, I need to learn more the tea art...
Wanna try the Lao Ren Tea! ^.^

micki and kristen said...

To 阿牛-Thanks for stopping by!

To Rafael- Wow, you were in Taiwan? 九份 is another nice town and a good place for you to take photos too! I would like to learn more about the tea art too, very interesting!

1ondoncalling said...

I think we call it 功夫茶 in Malaysia.

Yes, the Japanese ambience came from the tatami, zabuton (座布団 Japanese sitting cushion), bamboo curtains, etc.

Have you tried the real Japanese green tea (抹茶 maccha)?
It's very powdery. And it's quite awful! Ha ha...

Re: Eiffel Tower / 艾菲尔铁塔 / Menara Eiffel / エッフェル塔

Well, at least you've got a good reason to go back!? ;-)

Zhu said...

我虽然是法国人,我不喜欢喝加菲。我整天喝茶!

我2008年去了北京的时候,我一天去了一家茶馆。 I was shocked. 一杯茶很贵!在台湾,8美元贵不贵?

(I'm half sleepy, hope my Chinese isn't too bad!)

shloke said...

I'm not a big fan of Chinese tea but your pictures got me really excited all over again :)

The entire process look complicated to me! I still prefer to have a mug of hot milo - two teaspoons of milo and some hot water. DONE!

Cheers!
mylo

micki and kristen said...

To londoncaller- Yes, 老人茶 is also named as 功夫茶! Ha! I've only tried maccha once and it was too strong for my taste too. Would like to visit Eiffel Tower in Paris again. I visited the one in Las Vegas last month though in a blue sky day.

To Zhu- Your Chinese writing is clear and great especially you were half sleepy! very impressive!
The price for a pot of tea depends on the quality and selection of the tea. There is higher cost for better quality tea and tea houses in Taipei. $8 is not expensive in Taipei. This refers to if we are having tea in a tea house. However, we can always find a cold tea drink on street vendors for much less money, such as around $1 US for a cup of cold tea, but as you are already familiar with that it is a different type and style of drink.
I have also found the prices in big cities of China are expensive too!

To Mylo- Ha, I was confused during the tea demonstration as well, but after a several practices, I was able to follow ~~ and your hot milo is done fast, simple, and I bet is delicious too! :)

1ondoncalling said...

Re: Eiffel Tower’s Cousin / 艾菲尔铁塔的堂弟 / Sepupu Menara Eiffel / エッフェル塔のいとこ

Ha ha... Happy family, you see!
But this is what we do: You copy mine; I copy yours. In the end, we all look the same. So it's important to be individual and creative.

lechua said...

has it always had the japanese layout, or it was done up recently?

micki and kristen said...

To Lechua- This house was built during the Japanese Colonial Era, and it retains as a historical site in the city now. It has kept the Japanese setting to retain the original look. According to it's website, it always has the Japanese layout :)

Anonymous said...

hi

jowdjbrown said...

I am not an expert of the tea, since the knowledge of the tea is so broad and in-depth. best matcha powder perth

Gina Liao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gina Liao said...

I've been there 2 times before!
They offer super healthy and nice meal
I definitely will bring my friends to this place if we need to find some place to chill with nice food and drinks (and get lazy on tatami)

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