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TAIWAN FUN MAGAZINE, November, 2005.

Wistaria Tea House

1, Lane 16, XinSheng S. Rd., Sec. 3
(02) 2363-7375
Hours: 10 am-11:30 pm
Credit cards accepted. No smoking.


--By Claire Tyrell Translated by Charlie Shen

Taipei is the 24-hour city. We play hard, shop hard and sometimes, just sometimes, we need to recoup hard, too. Enter the teahouse. Wistaria Tea House, to be specific.
Wistaria House, officially an historical site, has served as a gathering place for scholars, artists and political dissenters. Now a teahouse with a forward-thinking view of tea culture, it notes "quietness allows you to rid yourself of vexation...a precondition for gaining clarity about one's own existence".

Choose from a beautiful dining room or a smaller room of tatami mats. In each, the attention to detail is perfect. A calming painting here, a beautifully arranged flower there-all create the desired effect.
There is a small menu of light meals (NT$200-300) and traditional snacks such as seeds, dried fruits, tasty pineapple or blueberry cakes (NT$50-100). However, tea is the focus and the tea menu is extensive, offering over 15 different kinds. Menus are only in Chinese, but the staff speak English well enough to recommend a tea to your personal taste. Those unsure are generally recommended to try the pleasant Oolong Black Tea, or the medium Dong Ding Oolong. These local Taiwanese teas cost between NT$200 and NT$320. For the tea connoisseur, fine Chinese teas are also available; some of them are apparently the age of a vintage wine, and their prices reflect their quality.

If the array of utensils that arrives leaves you bewildered, they can lead you through the ritual, and then leave you to the comfort, and the slight buzz engendered by the tea.
Wistaria certainly creates a unique atmosphere and, on a weekday afternoon, offers relaxing music, soft chatter and the bubbling of boiling water. On a weekend afternoon, the dining room can be a riot of enthusiastic conversation.
Yet, even after an entire afternoon of ridding myself of vexation, the tea still lasted longer than I did!