By C H Kwak in Berlin—
“Abwarten und Tee trinken,” or wait and drink tea, is a German idiom that means being patient. Good things come to those who wait, and we Berliners have been patient long enough.
Today, there’s a number of cozy tea places in Berlin to help us weather the long winter. Tea may not be everyone’s… well, cup of tea, but wait till the frigid Central European winds start gushing in your face. You, too, will yearn for a hot mug of brew.
That’s why every visitor should be thankful for these five tearooms, most of which are located in central Berlin:
1) Tadschikische Teestube – “Tajik tea room”
Am Festungsgraben 1, Mitte
Mon-Fri: 5 p.m.-midnight; Sat-Sun: 3 p.m.-midnight
Tucked away inside a nondescript theater building off Unter der Linden, the Tajik tea room is a piece of East German history. Originally a gift from the USSR, the room was a display at the 1974 Leipzig Expo before moving to its present location.
Take off your shoes, lean on the plush cushions and dream of some place faraway and warm. From ordinary Earl Grey to smoky Russian tea, there’s over twenty choices. If you’re feeling peckish, you can also indulge in rich pelmeni or borscht, too–with sour cream, of course. A perfect place to wind down after visiting the Museum Island, it’s the ersatz Mother Russia I’ve always wanted.
2) Tee Tea Thé
Goltzstraße 2, Schöneberg
Mon-Fri: 9 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Don’t let the long menu mislead you into thinking they’re not serious about what they do. While the salon makes delicious breakfast and lunch, the real emphasis here is tea, tea and more tea. The tea menu goes on for pages, so you may need to be a little patient. (Repeat after me: Abwarten und Tee trinken!)
If anything, Tee Tea Thé should give you an excuse to visit Goldtzstrasse, which in my opinion is a street under-appreciated by visitors.
Käthe-Niederkirchner-Straße 15, Prenzlauer Berg
Tue-Fri 5 p.m.-midnight; Sat-Sun 2 p.m.-midnight
Water temperature, teapot size, number of tea leaves… no small detail goes overlooked at Tschaikowsky, a tea house near the Volkspark Friedrichshain. Each of over 140 sorts of tea requires a different brewing technique. Good thing the staff are so knowledgeable. Certain teas are served complete with a small tea ceremony, so give yourself plenty of time.
If the golden scale hasn’t tipped you off (pun unintended, but it stays), this store is a classic. For three decades, the Charlottenburg shop has been teaching Berliners a thing or two about savoring tea. Watch firsthand how tea leaves are mixed to create new assortments, or even take one of the “teaology” seminars the owner teaches himself.
5) Teehaus zum Osmanthussaft
Eisenacher Straße 99, Marzahn
Winter: Only on weekends in good weather; Summer: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
Allow me to take you off the beaten path. Way, way off. Marzahn’s sprawling Gardens of the World are a worthy destination in and of themselves, even if they’re a pain to get to. The Chinese garden offers one more reason to trek out here. Over 30 kinds of Chinese tea are served in a tranquil atmosphere. Enjoy how surreal the place is–a tea house, in a quiet Chinese garden surrounded by GDR-built cement housing.