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Top 5 Teahouses in Seoul

February 14, 2011

Korea’s really been embracing the coffee culture in recent years (a new Starbucks seems to spring up every week). But that doesn’t mean the country’s entirely forgotten its traditional tea roots. Seoul’s got some really great teahouses worth exploring. If one knows where to look, that is.

Here’s a quick rundown of five of my favourite in the city.

1) Tteuran

Equipped with ondol (traditional Korean underfloor heating), Tteuran (745-7420) is well-suited for the winter months. They also serve a great selection of herbal and leaf teas.

Getting there: Subway Line 3 to Anguk Station. Get out Exit 4. Walk straight and turn left at the third road. It’s roughly 50m from there on your right.

2)  Suyeong Sanbang

Unique and ultra-laid back, Suyeong Sanbang (764-1736) is set inside a beautifully preserved hanok (traditional Korean-style home), and about as far away from the city madness one can get.

Getting there: Take subway Line 4 to Hansung University Station and get out Exit 6. Head straight up the main road to the three-way junction. Follow the bend and take the second road on your right from there.

3) Insadong

Named after the very area it located in, this place has been here for twelve years. Lee Myung-bak is reported to really like it here and even brought his entourage here before the G20 took place in the capital.

Getting there: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 6. Insadong street begins a few minutes away. Walk straight down for around 100m. It’ll be on your right.

4) Gul

Tea to Go. Who says tea can only be enjoyed sitting down? Gul (031-774-5714), the Korean word for honey, is a great little take away hut that serves up sweetened teas made from fresh honey. It also sits right in the heart of Ssamziegil Square, a funky shopping area.

Getting there: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 6. Walk straight down 100m. It’s on the left-hand side, on the ground level in Ssamziegil Shopping Square.

5) Dawon

Surrounded by art galleries and plenty of cherry blossom trees, Dawon (02-730-6305) Dawon is a great place to hang out during the warmer months. The daechu cha, jujube tea, (6,000 won) is hugely popular. Dawon is one of Seoul’s oldest teahouses, having kept its doors open for thirty years.

Getting there: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 6. Head straight down the main street and turn left at Sudo Pharmacy. The entrance is just up the street on your left.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2011 06:56

    A few years ago, my parents came to visit Seoul. A friend of my mother’s had lived in Japan for many years, and visited Korea several times. He recommended a tea shop in Insadong, and gave my Mother some vague information to find it. We finally found one tea shop on a side street, with name “The New Old Tea Shop”. This was almost exactly the name he had told her (“The Old Tea Shop”). So we went in, not quite sure if this was the place or not. He had recommended a certain signature drink, but the owner had no idea what it was.

    Finally, there was one point he had told her, but my Korean colleague was too embarassed to even ask this to the owner. Finally after my mother kept insisting, he asked the owner, “Did you used to have monkeys running around inside this tea shop?” To everyone’s surprise, the owner answered, “Yes, indeed. And, we used to have racoons, as well!!”

    It was a nice tea shop, but I’m not sure how I would have enjoyed it with all that wildlife running around. I’ve encountered a wild racoon before, and not sure I would want one underfoot in a restaurant.

  2. February 15, 2011 13:46

    I agree with you there, Joy. I’m trying to break my addiction to the bean and move over to leafy goodness. I’ve been to all of the ones I mentioned, but highly recommend Suyeong Sanbang. Robert over at Marmot’s Hole told me about that place to me a while ago and I’ve been going back as often as I can ever since. Great little place.

  3. February 15, 2011 13:28

    As a person who can’t drink coffee knowing there are “best teahouses” out there is really encouraging. I can’t wait to try them out with my pals. Tea should really pick it’s feet up and become the next hot thing. (pun intended)

  4. February 15, 2011 12:44

    No worries. Hit me up if you have any questions about directions etc.

  5. February 15, 2011 12:41

    Thanks for the recommendations. I haven’t really given tea much of a chance here. Been too focused on the coffee. I’m heading out to Insadong this week and I’ll check out #3. Thanks :D

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