Having barely settled into Seoul after a day of travel, I was whisked off to a press conference to launch the Korean version of the Quality Hunter campaign followed by an interview with AB Road, South Korea’s leading travel publication, about my own experience as a Quality Hunter. The editors meeting me- Jin Joo Shin and Si Won Kim- suggested we go to Suyusanbang teahouse in Sungbook-dong, area in north Seoul described as one of the city’s finest residential districts.
Knowing absolutely nothing about Korean tea or the country’s traditional teahouses, the experience was enlightening. My first lesson? When in Seoul, wear easily removable shoes since many traditional restaurants and teahouse such as this will require you to remove footwear before entry. So, the complicated boots I wore were less than ideal!
Entering the traditional house, with it’s creaky floors, low ceilings and various trinkets, we were led to our own room were we sat on the floor around a low table on which the tea was to be served. Despite the extremely traditional ambiance and interior of the venue, the owners had a good mind to place heated mats on the floor to sit on- perfect for this time of year in Seoul where temperatures are hovering at around 5C.
I let the girls order for me, partly because I had no idea where to start but also because I believe that there’s nothing like having a knowledgeable local lead you through a foreign menu. It was like having my own two tea sommeliers!
Their choice was ‘Mogwa cha’ (Chinese quince tea), a famous blend quite particular to Korea. Made from quince skin and flesh that has been left to pickle in sugar and water for a few months, the mixture is spooned into a cup with boiling hot water was poured over it.
Our tea was served with Yoogwa, a traditional Korean ceremonial rice cake covered in sesame seeds. Delicious!
So, the perfect start to my last city. The tea was perfect and absolutely needed in this chilly weather. Many thanks to my hosts Jin Joo Shin and Si Won Kim!