ZenCha Tea Salon
A couple nights ago I met up with a friend who is preparing to move to Abu Dhabi. Since the weather was so perfect, we went to walk around the short north. Originally our motivation was Cold Stone Creamery, at my friend’s request. I directed us to the cap only to realize, woops, Cold Stone Creamery is no longer. Instead Hyde Park-run Eleven has taken it’s place. Looks like a great place for drinks, especially the indoor-outdoor bar. The windows open to a line of seats outside. You order and the bartender inside pops your drink out the window to you. Looks much more sophisticated than how I described it.
I digress. We decided to go to Jeni’s to keep with the ice cream theme we had going. We were enjoying our walk when we absentmindedly passed Jeni’s. My friend, who is a city planner, drooled in the window of the Ibiza office.
Eventually we arrived at ZenCha Tea Salon. It caught my friend’s interest. When I told him I’d heard a lot of great things about it but had never been in, we decide to try it.
The lights were dimmed and we took a table right inside the door, in the window. My friend and I noticed the display cases lining the wall. While we should have investigated them, I later learned online the boxes house museum-quality teapots from the owner’s personal collection
I was surprised to see over 100 different kinds of tea from so many different regions of the world. My friend, born in India, has done some traveling and was so excited by the variety. He couldn’t decide what he wanted as he explained to me how Japanese tea is lighter as not to interfere with the favors of the meal.
I was so tempted to try bubble tea, especially the new yogurt bubble tea, but ended up ordering almond chai. Funny enough, out of all the different choices he pointed out, some much more familiar than others, my friend ordered coconut chai.
The tea came out to us in individual tea pots and super sweet pastel colored mugs. If the owners said “you can’t drink it, just enjoy the smell” I would have been fine with it. The scent of the chai was so delicious. I kept imagining Italian cookies with every whiff.
I noticed as the evening went on, and I’d pour a little more tea, the tea pot kept the tea extremely hot. So I was always drinking hot tea. And I never burned my mouth on the piping hot tea. I do though have a high threshold of pain when it comes to high temperatures. Maybe it’s a lifetime’s worth of tasting pasta for doneness directly out of the bowling water.
I will absolutely go back for the tea but mostly for the brunch of pancakes and waffles. They were so intriguing. I read up on the chocolate waffles topped with white chocolate syrup, chai waffles with caramelized bananas, even savory pancakes with Sicilian ingredients and spices like prosciutto and parmesan cheese. To me that is just wild!
I’m really going to miss my friend, and we’re both sorry that we just now went to ZenCha, but the atmosphere led to some great conversation and a wonderful last night out together.
If you go:
Zen Cha Tea Salon
982 N. High St