If you have a car or can somehow make your way to the tourist town of YangPyeong, a stop at the 1,000 year tea house during the evening is an absolute must. Warm softly lit hanji lanterns adorn the deck lined with maple trees. Tranquil instrumental Asian music plays, blending magically with falling water gently trickling from the roof eaves into lit pools below. We were lucky to have found this place in Autumn, when the leaves had fallen and thickly carpeted the floor.
The water features and music continue inside as the entrance opens to a shop with a water garden running down its centre. The tea house offers two separate seating styles; to the left, table and chairs, to the right and up a step, ondol (heated) floors. Sheer silk curtains in pretty hues provide privacy to each booth, setting a cosy and romantic scene. I’d suggest you take the floor seating, it’s near level with the water outside and has an ever so slightly warmer lighting which enhances the ambience.
The menu is set on a large plastic scroll, with options of ordering a giant cup of tea or a teapot and tiny little sip glasses. If you get the teapot option, it comes with a 1L flask of boiled water to refill the teapot a few times.
Teas on offer include: 1000 year tea (made out of 32 kinds of medicinal herbs); jujube tea; Japanese apricot tea; 5 flavoured tea; chrysanthemum tea; rose tea; dewdrop tea; mugwort tea; mulberry leaf tea; green tea; pure tea; dewdrop and chrysanthemum mixed tea; and ‘icing on the cake’ tea.
To the side of the table lay stacks of notebooks that you can doodle in while waiting for your tea. Some of the writings were sweet and funny, accompanied by cute drawings. The left photo is from a young Korean couple talking about having a good time and being excited for the evening to come. Cue eyebrow wiggle. Our tea and complimentary (service) [deceptive] cookies (약과) were set down while contributing to the notebooks. They look so good, but when you bite into them, oil bursts in your mouth. Bobby loves these, lucky for him he doesn’t need to share. Storytime from Bobby:
Yak Gwa means the snack which can be medical. Made from wheat, oil and honey, this was an extravagant snack for noble people and kings. Back in the Joseon era, they believed that: honey was the best medical item; oil was good for the stomach to kill the bugs and detox; and the wheat matured through Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, locking in the energy from the four seasons making it balanced. They yak gwa at big traditional holidays and on right moon days, when the moon is biggest. It was a must have item for performances and parties. During the kingdom time, the King’s family, noble people and temple wasted too much grain, honey and oil, so the price for these essentials went up. Poor people started to starve so King Myeong Kong and King Gong Min made the cookies illegal. It stayed that way for 160 years until it became a popular snack again for the Joseon Kingdom. It was know as the best snack in Joseon, made with big efforts so they believed that it would become a special snack in the world.
He’d ordered the dew drop tea, made from hydrangea leaves. 이슬차 ‘e-sul-cha’ translating to tea-of-heaven, is incredibly sweet and light. If the owner hadn’t said that nothing was added to it, I would’ve guessed that he’d heaped teaspoons of sugar into the water. It remains on the tongue long after it’s gone and leaves the mouth feeling refreshed/ cleansed. The leaves gently unfold while they steep in the glass pot, set upon a dish with a candle in the middle, maintaining the heat. Heed caution! The cups have a hollow edging so that your hands don’t get burnt/ you can comfortably hold the cup. When you get caught up having a good time, and you will, remember that the liquid inside is scalding and that burnt mouths are never fun. Ever
Bobby ended up buying some for me to take back to my parents.
The address for this divine little spot is Kyung-Ki-Do Yang-Pyeong-guen Kang-La-Myun Jun-Sue-Li 559-12 >>> In Korean 경기도 양평군 강라면 전수리 559-12
GO GO GO!
Happy eating – Chan and Bob
if you liked that music in our video, click here for an hour playlist of similar magnificence.