This past week I was lucky enough to find myself in Boulder, CO on a business trip with a couple of free afternoons. In addition to plenty of natural beauty, Boulder can be a tea-lover’s paradise!
As nice as the Celestial Seasonings tour was, the real jewel of Boulder’s tea scene was yet to come. Credit where credit is due, however, and I might not have made it there without the address on the pamphlet that came from Celestial Seasonings! After dragging my coworker/conference-mate to a place famous for herbal tea, I was looking forward to satisfying both of our black tea habits.
The Dushanbe Teahouse was given to Boulder by their sister city, the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe in 1990. The hand carved structure was sent disassembled and the tea house opened on May 15, 1998 after being reassembled by the Tajik artisans who also made the journey. It is the only tea house of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and is also the largest tea house outside of Asia. The building is stunning, but we came for tea, and boy, was it worth it!
In addition to appetizers, entrées and desserts, the privately owned restaurant that operates in the teahouse has an impressive tea menu that consists of over 100 premium loose-leaf teas, many exclusive. Each pot of tea holds about 2.5 cups and is about 3-4 dollars. Considering that one can pay almost 2 bucks for a mediocre teabag in tepid water at a coffee shop, I was pretty excited!
We picked Puerh Imperial, Tun Ting Oolong and Silver Needle (white tea) and snacked on hummus and samosas while we enjoyed the fleeting sunshine (with a dead camera battery, unfortunately). When the tea came to the table, our waitress Jen brought a timer and let us know how long to let the teas steep. I enjoyed the puerh and even my coworker, who doesn’t usually go for that kind of thing, said that she would drink it again. The white tea was pleasant and light, but that oolong was amazing!
After staring at the foreboding sky for three pots worth of tea, we decided that we’d pushed our weather luck for far too long. Jen, who I can’t recommend enough, couldn’t have been nicer when we asked if it would be possible for us to move inside. She got us a table in seconds and the tea and dessert we had ordered before fleeing the downpour was there to meet us when we got inside.
(The carvings on the walls and columns were amazing!)
For dessert, we ordered chocolate cake and gingerbread cake, (which came with delicious chai flavored ice cream) and Zao Bei Jian black tea. The Zao Bei Jian was so excellent that my coworker (henceforth referred to as Kyla) parted with some $ to take a bag home with her. The Dushanbe Teahouse also had lots of teapots to resist buying.
Being a knitter, I particularly liked this one:
We were so glad that we had gone to the Dushanbe Teahouse. In fact, Kyla and I liked it so much… we came back the next day (equipped with a charged camera battery)! Nerds, huh?
On our second trip we decided to try lunch, I had some curry and Kyla had some pulled pork that she said hit the spot ( it smelled pretty good, but as a veggie, I didn’t go there :p ). For tea we chose two oolongs, Jinxuan (Formosa) and Ti Kuan Yin. The Jinxuan was not at all what I had expected, it tasted vegetal like some green teas, but had a nice sweet flavor as well. The word that came to my mind as I sipped was raw, and it was refreshing. The Ti Kuan Yin was quite tasty too.
For dessert we had the Ricotta Butter Cake which was far and away the best dessert we tried there. It was so good that we ate half before I had the presence of mind to take a picture!
The Dushanbe Teahouse was a real treat. If I lived in Boulder… I would basically never leave! The food was pretty good, but I really enjoyed having a good place to sit and sip new, delicious tea with a friend (in or out of the weather!).
But don’t take my word for it, check it out!
1770 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302.
open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner
tea parties and afternoon tea can be arranged by reservation