Friday, February 4, 2011

Green T. House

I really wanted to have afternoon tea in Beijing, somewhere quiet and not crowded, a sanctuary with tea and finger food.  I should have known that B and I always get ourselves in some kind of awkward situation in China, even something as simple as having afternoon tea.

I read some terrible reviews about Green T. House on Tripadvisor, but it sounded so cool and absurd that I had to go see for myself.  First of all, instead of a door, they had a "secret" door with no handles or knobs.  You have to ring a door bell and wait for a hostess to open the door and greet you.  That should've been the first sign of "let's look for another teahouse."

Mysterious Door

It was gorgeous inside, and our tourist instincts were to take out our cameras and start clicking away at the over-the-top long dinner table and chairs with sky-high backs.  However, the hostess and waitresses told us that we couldn't take pictures.  Darn.  Well, that didn't stop us from sneaking pictures of our tea and snacks...

We chose to sit cross-legged on a wall-length white opium bed with big white Chinese screens.  We took off our shoes and sat down to read the lengthy and confusing menu.  The tea menu was written in prose.  I kid you not.  It looked like a book project made by design students from the Studio Art department at UT-Austin.  I would have enjoyed it more had the waitresses in the empty restaurant gave us some privacy and allowed us to read through the menu at our own pace.  But, instead, upon hearing my coughs, our waitress came and told me that I should drink something with pear in it because it's supposed to be good for my lungs.  She suggested the green tea with rose and Asian pear for me and B ordered the green tea with rose and apple.  We were flabbergasted when the waitress came back with two pho-sized bowls of tea and long bamboo branches and cinnamon sticks jutting out.

Pho-sized Bowls of Tea with Ridiculous Embellishments

Green Tea with Asian Pear and Rose Petals and Buds

The tea was not even good.  B rightly observed that it tasted grassy.  Blech.  Our prix fixe afternoon tea came with a slate of tea snacks.  And of course they felt that a gigantic branch was a necessary adornment.

Assortment of Tea Snacks

The cookies looked and tasted like the ones you can buy for cheap at a wholesale shop in Chinatown.  Umm.  Is this or is this not a restaurant?

Although I don't recommend this place, it was somewhat entertaining to be put through such awkward service and presentation.

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