You won’t find a tea bag in sight at this artisan teahouse in Vienna’s first district, but it is the only place in the city where you can have the heart-warming Chinese fermented Pu’erh tea experience.
Quick question: do you know what a tea pet is? We had no f**** idea before we turned up at Channagasse Teehaus.
Within the first few minutes of our time here, we learn several things about tea that we’re definitely filing in the ‘awkward silence conversation fillers’ folder of our mind –
1.) There’s such a thing as duck shit tea ( Google: Duck Shit Aroma )
2.) The whole tea pet thing.
A tea pet is a small clay figure that sometimes accompanies a Chinese tea ceremony for good luck. Sergei, the tea nerd and owner of Channagasse Teehaus, throws the first steaming hot cup of tea infusion he brews onto the tea pet’s head:
‘The first cup always should be thrown out. And it’s all about sharing with your tea pet.’
Poor little tea pet, we think.
Mind you, the tea he poured onto its head is like decades old, and has been fermented to tea perfection.
Sergei is our tea-cher (get it?) on this teahouse visit, and he’s the kind of person that is so passionate about something, his passion becomes contagious. So much so that we were googling, ‘Duck shit legend’ on our way home from the place.
And this teahouse he’s created is a space where the rich and fascinating stories and culture that surround a humble cup of tea, can be appreciated.
Tea is not only sold and served up at Channagasse, yet the tradition of tea and its origins is worshipped.
Your relationship with tea may begin and end with the tea bags you dunk up and down during the colder months in boiling water. Well, tea is so much more, apparentely. Another thing we learned at Channagasse Teehaus.
Sitting down for a tea is a casual affair, but an exotic one.
Channagasse specialises in the deeply rich Chinese Pu’erh blends that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
If this means nothing to you (like us), Pu’er is a special kind of tea produced in the home of tea – China; in the Yunnan province, to be exact.
This stuff ain’t just any tea, but Pu’erh is premium stuff!
It’s the kind of drink that is intended to be sipped, aged and savoured like fine wine. And it comes packaged like a big cookie. Yep, that isn’t big Lebkuchen cookies on the shelves in Channagasse. They may give you a strong urge to bite into them, but don’t do that. Please don’t.
Pour, infuse, drink and refill is the routine you’ll take on quite quickly once you start your tea drinking here, from the pretty porcelain arrangement placed in front of you on the Chápán (your Chinese tea tray).
If it looks confusing, don’t worry – they’ll show you how it’s done, and they’ll probably give you a fascinating history lesson about the tea you choose from the menu, if you’re lucky (sooo part of the experience).
That’s right, just like a tearoom in China, you’re invited to make your own tea and chill out for as long as you like at Channagasse.
You see, teahouses are to the Chinese like pubs are to the Irish. Look at that – Vienna’s got its first tea pub! (we just dubbed that term and claim dibs on it!).
Your tea serving, which is accompanied by a thermos, will see you through about 4-6 infusions/ cups of the brew, which you’ll probably end up taking your time with.
The menu has an especially large palette in red teas out of India and China. The flavours of the Pur’eh are incredibly gentle, elegant and calming.
The deep green and brown tones of this quaint and charming tearoom match the hot fluids you’re sipping at, and while you consume your healthy caffeine kicks from this fermented weird-looking magic tea, a zen and calm floats about the place.
The tea Channagasse is amazing, and a different experience that may just get you as hooked on tea as Sergei.