Chinese Tea House – Berghaus zum Osmanthussaft

Chinese Garden - Gardens of the World, BerlinThis is the last post dedicated to tea-drinking in Berlin (I promise!). For this one, we went out of town to the “Gardens of the World” (Marzahn Recreational Park). This is a collection of nine exotic world gardens, including an enclosed Japanese garden, a Balinese glasshouse, a Korean garden, a labyrinth, an Italian Renaissance Garden and a Chinese garden.

The whole park was covered in a carpet of snow and the Japanese and Korean gardens were both closed so we started to worry that the 45-minute trip from the city centre had been for nothing. Thankfully the Chinese garden (“Garden of the Reclaimed Moon”) was open for visitors.  It is the largest Chinese garden in Europe and was opened to the public in 2000 after four years of work by Chinese artisans using only Chinese materials. Within the garden is a tea pavilion that promises an authentic insight into Chinese tea culture.

Tea Pavillion - Chinese Garden

Tea Pavilion – Chinese Garden

Sitting on the patio overlooking the lake would be beautiful on a sunny day but we by-passed the snowmen and went inside to the charmingly decorated tea-room. Despite the high ceilings, stone floors and open layout, it felt cosy and warm inside. There was a large group of about 15 people in one corner and a steady flow of smaller groups all the time we were there, which surprised me for snowy Easter Sunday. Inside the Tea Pavilion

Demonstrations of Chinese tea art normally take place on Saturdays and Sundays but this being Easter, there was none. The menu has a selection of about 30 teas. Green, White, Yellow, Oolong, Black and Pu-erh as well as flavoured teas and tisanes all featured. The Oolong and Lapsang Souchong that we had were both acceptable, though not outstanding. The utensils allowed for multiple steepings and certainly helped to make the best of the tea but for €11, it still seemed a little steep.Utensils used for Tea

 

 

 

 

 

The “Gardens of the World” are outside the city centre but it is easy to get to Marzahn by train and there is a direct bus from the train station to the gardens. The entrance fee is €4 to the gardens. With all the snow and closed sections, it was hard to gauge how nice the gardens themselves were but the reviews on TripAdvisor are positive and I could imagine it being a pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Tajikistan Tearoom (Tadshikische Teestube)

Russian Tea CeremonySimilar to our experince with the Berliner Teesalon, we had trouble getting in to the Tajikistan tearoom. When we turned up at the Palais am Festungsgraben, we found out that the tearoom had relocated. The location in the 18th century, Baroque, Palais am Festungsgraben was a large part of the reason I hade chosen this tea room but we persisted and took a tram to Oranienburger Str. The tearoom was extremely busy and all the floor space was taken so we took a regular table (with chairs!). The tea list was fairly extensive but to treat ourselves we went for the  “Russian Tea Ceremony”. At €8 each, this involved a serving of tea with sweeteners (jam, lime jelly, dried orange peel, rum soaked raisins and sugar) and there was also a shot vodka for each of us and a plate of biscuits to share.

 

Hot water from the samovarConcentrated tea is prepared in the small teapot and the silver samovar contains hot water. The idea is to take a small amount of concentrated tea and add as much hot water as necessary to dilute. The tea was pungent, black and gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “trotting a mouse on it” but diluted it was very drinkable and with the sweeteners it was just lovely. I tried to find out some details on the tea used but I was told it was a blend of many types. I normally don’t drink tea in the afternoon so at 6pm I kept murmuring about no sleep for a week while I drank my fill of strong black tea. Maybe the tea was decaff (!) or maybe it was the vodka but I slept like a baby that night.

Location on Google maps

 

Berliner Teesalon

We had a tough time getting in to this shop. Confusingly, there seems to be two websites for the Berliner Teesalon. I, of course, looked at the old website that states a weekday opening time of 10am instead of 12pm, so when we arrived, the place was in darkness.  We couldn’t wait around so we went on with our day and decided to come back in the afternoon. I spent a fair bit of time throughout the day putting up arguments about why we shouldn’t  bother with the three-train journey back over to Rosenthaler Platz. I’m glad I didn’t win – it was definitely worth the hassle. The number of teas (over 300) is impressive in itself but all the accessories and the enthusiasm of the staff makes this an outstanding teashop.

Berliner Teesalon, Invalidenstr. 160

Front room of the Berliner Teesalon

Some of the hundreds of tea

Some of the hundreds of tea

The teashop is spread over three adjoining rooms.  The emphasis is on non-flavoured teas. With over 60 black teas, 30 Oolongs, 60 Green and White teas and 20 or so Pu-erhs, there is a lot to take in. Luckily, in the middle room there are a couple of tables where it is possible to review the entire menu of teas and taste any of them that are available to buy. Great care is taken in the preparation of the tea with water, temperature, rinsing and steeping time all getting due attention.

My purchases from the Berliner Teesalon

My purchases from the Berliner Teesalon

As far as tea accessories go, there is everything you could possibly imagine: Yixing pottery, ceramic cups, glass teapots, porcelain pitchers, tea tables, cast iron teapots, gaiwans, tea-sets etc. They are spread all over the shop in display cupboards and on tables that makes it way too easy to picture them in your own home. I broke my promise about not buying any more tea accessories and bought two teapots! The porcelain set of teapot and four cups was just €17 so I couldn’t leave it behind! In terms of tea, I bought an Oolong, a Pu-erh and a something I’ve never hear of: a white Pu-erh tea. I’m looking forward to tasting and reviewing once my cold has cleared up.

Location on Google maps.

Back from Berlin

I’m just back from five days in Berlin. What an interesting city! We felt as if we just barely scratched the surface of interesting things to do and a return visit is definitely needed. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll write some posts on the “tea-activities” that took place during the trip. By agreement, there was one tea-activity per day but sometimes I snuck in a second ;-). These included visits to a Tajikistan tea room, a Chinese tea pavilion and a Berlin tea salon.

One place where I wasn’t expecting to find anything tea-related was the Botanic Gardens in Berlin. But look what I found:

Camellia sinensis - Berlin

 

Snow in Botanic Gardens - BerlinThe Botanic gardens in Berlin are very large (126 acres) and have about 22,000 different species of plants. We followed the “spring trail” around the garden but the blooming shrubs, crocuses and primroses were all hiding under a blanket of snow. It was bitterly cold and we were very happy to spend most of our time in the 16 greenhouses and imagine what it would be like to be in a tropical (or subtropical) climate. There is one green house full of Camellias and Rhododendrons. The Camellia sinensis doesn’t bloom until winter but the decorative Camellias and Rhododendrons were in full bloom. The smell and colours were spectacular.

The minimum daytime temperature in this greenhouse is 8-10 °C (daytimeCamellia sinensis leaves) and 6-8 °C (night).  As I wrote in the post about growing tea, Camellia sinensis prefer stable temperatures and not very frosty winters.

I could only find Camellia sinensis var. assamica and not the original (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis). The plant had been kept short by pruning and as expected the leaves were thick and leathery

 

 

 

 

 

Below are a few photos of the beautiful Camellia japonica that were in the same glasshouse.

Camellia japonica 2

  Camellia japonica 1 Camellia japonica 3