When looking for a break and not really wanting coffee or to be in a cafe, there is the option of teahouses in Korea. Offering a different vibe, more traditional, less instagram focused and a place where all demographics can be found, a teahouse in Korea is the perfect place to take a breather or a place to seek refuge for rest or from the cold.
Most teahouses offer the usual coffee menu too but why not try some traditional Korean tea’s and snacks while you are here? Most teahouses will offer a section to be seated on the floor. You will need to take your shoes off and in winter, the underfloor (ondol) heating will be on which makes it a great table to get!
Located in my favourite area of Insadong, Hanok Tea House is the biggest teahouse that I have been to so far. There was a mix of tourists and locals and there were many rooms and seating areas. We grabbed the last table in this retro looking room. There is a list long of teas on the menu which took us a while to pick from. I settled for the quince tea which was sweeter than anticipated and contained a lot of shaved skin to add to the unique cup! We decided to try the traditional yugwa sweet which is made of pounded glutinous rice which is then deep fried and covered with honey, sesame seeds and puffed rice. Delicious!
Hanok Tea House (한옥찻집): 9 Insadong 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Also located in Insadong is Sinyet chatjip. A smaller teahouse than the Hanok Tea House, there is only table seating here. It is mostly outdoor but undercover table seating here around a courtyard. Here we decided to try the Pear Tea and Omija Tea. Omija tea is a Korean tea made from dried magnolia berries. The omija tea was described on the menu as a drink containing sour, bitter, salty, sweet and spicy (from ginger). It was definitely interesting but I preferred the pear tea. We paired our teas with some sweet rice cakes known as Injeolmi, which is covered in soybean powder. They were so soft and a great pairing with our teas.
Sinyet chatjip (신옛찻집): 47-8 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
I have heard that Cha-teul is so popular there are lines outside usually on the weekends so it made sense to go later in the day after dinner here. We were promptly greeted and our shoes were taken as we were seated inside on the last floor table. Here, most of the teas are leaf teas served in small teapots with a strainer and tea cups. Hot water is delivered to your table and you make the tea yourself (after getting an explanation for your tea on how to best brew it). There were some Korean desserts on the menu but on this visit, we skipped them. The atmosphere here was something different. With it all being floor seating inside, it felt calmer for some reason or perhaps it was the time of the day.
Cha-teul: 26 Bukchon-ro 11na-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Located in Iksadong (not to be confused with Insadong), is the Tteuran Tea House. It is a small teahouse with a combination of table and floor seating. I liked that sun was able to come into the teahouse. I decided to try the traditional Ssanghwa tea which has a bitter herbal tea but is suppose to be really good for your body. It came with a mixture of nuts in it and small pieces of candied ginger which you are suppose to nibble on as your drink. I decided to try the dried persimmon stuffed with walnut. It was a great combination and despite the bitter taste of the Ssanghwa tea, I would still drink it again!
Tteuran Tea House (뜰안): 17-35 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul