Tsai: A Favorite Haunt for Zen Types

Find your balance and favorite tea variety in a minimal environment


A traditional Japanese porcelain teapot is placed on my table. I am seated at a lovely tea house in the chic, up-market inner district of Kolonaki, which is beginning to show some signs of cultural revival after not being spared from the wider woes caused by Greece’s deep recession, as was noted by Wallpaper, the renowned magazine covering design, fashion and architecture. It ran a story on Tsai, the Kolonaki tea house I am at. The article stresses the place’s impressive minimal design, created by the Greek architect Giorgos Batzios. The tea house is set up over one unified space comprised of a lounge area and a shop selling tea and crockery over a particularly low-levelled bench that offers a better view of the merchandise while also facilitating handicapped persons. It resembles a perfumery. 

Responding to a question on the design-related thoughts that sprung up in his mind when he was asked to take on the Tsai project, Batzios remarked: “The idea was to install an inner layer of bark that would conceal lights and create storage space for tea and objects wherever necessary. Timber is a warm and friendly material, while the portique technique around the sides allows light to pass through gently, resembling the effects of the sun’s rays during sunrise.” 

From 10:00 to 22:00, one may select from a tea range numbering 500 varieties, most of these supplied by the renowned Mlesna tea company from Sri Lanka, exclusively marketed in Greece by Tsai, as well as varieties from China and Japan. The place is almost psychotherapeutic.

The experience is reminiscent of the process of entering a chemist’s shop. The customer describes his or her symptoms and is prescribed an appropriate tea variety that could be named “Quiet Evening”, a variety containing mint and lemon balm, “Pleasant Start”, made with hibiscus and liquorice, “Ginseng Wellness”, with ginseng and calendula, and so on.   

The food on offer shares a similar philosophy. Although Tsai is not a restaurant, it does serve certain sandwiches, salads, as well as light and nutritious dishes that may be enjoyed without a guilty conscience. Fresh organic cake baked using green Matcha tea and raspberries is available on a daily basis, while highly popular menu items include various quiche tarts, vegan cakes, including a chocolate and peanut butter cake, as well as ginger cookies. Don’t leave without having tried the Israeli salad made with finely-chopped crispy vegetables, wild rocket, parsley, feta cheese, and nuts. Everything on the menu is always fresh and made on the spot. Even the pies on the menu are made using freshly prepared pastry. 

Reflecting the overall zen-type ambience at this tea house, the music selections are classical and non-intrusive, which, like all else offered here, allows customers to sit pleasantly for hours and work, read, nibble, even enjoy sitting on the swings. The place is equipped with two wooden swings hanging at the front, “for the lovebirds,” as Batzios noted. Yes, the setting here is truly romantic. But keep in mind, there is no tea-based antidote for falling in love.  

“The idea was to install an inner layer of bark that would conceal lights and create storage space for tea and objects wherever necessary”

INFO

Tsai is located at 19 Al. Soutsou Street, Kolonaki

Telephone +30 210.338.8941 | Facebook page 



Read More

Discover

Thessaloniki’s Homegrown Design, a Labor of Love

Selected workshops and stores where artists add a creatively modern...


Hotels

Enjoy Tea Time at Rhodes’ Historic Hotel Grande Albergo delle Rose

Guests or visitors to the elegant hotel on Rhodes can...


Athens

C for Cocktails: Fine Drinking in Central Athens

With passionate bartenders and award-winning bars, Athens is quickly being...


Athens

Vintage Athens

Unique garments, rare objects, quirky gift ideas and retro-loving hangouts...


Greece Is Blog Posts

Zen and the Art of Driving in Greece

BY Pavlos Zafiropoulos

When I was first learning to drive, my...

read more >

Autumn in Pylos: An Expat’s View of the Battle of Navarino Re-Enacted

BY Hayley Prokos

On a balmy Saturday night in late October,...

read more >

An Ermoupolis State of Mind: Notes from the Capital of the Cyclades

BY Anthony Grant

Caution is advised when visiting Ermoupolis on Syros,...

read more >