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When is a museum not a museum?

December 9, 2008

When its a tea museum…TeaStory Museum.

 Recently I found TeaStory Museum in the hub of Insadong in Seoul. Despite its name it’s not your everyday kind of museum.  It is much much more:  a cafe- come shop-come gallery-come museum-come tea experience.

I have written about Insadong before in a previous post: the place to visit when looking for souvenirs. Insadong also has some of the best tea houses around Seoul. Some date back in history, are rustic and squat size. These can usually be found down small narrow alleys.  Others are spacious and well lit, keeping the essence of tradition, but putting a modern twist on it. TeaStory comes under modern: minimalistic clean lines that let the teas speak for themselves.

by Cate

by Cate

Both styles have one thing in common. To serve only the best traditional Korean tea: ginseng, chrysanthemum, persimmon leaves, green teas, Korean black teas, and my favourite fruit tea -omicha (literally meaning 5 tastes tea).

What will add to the experience is the presentation. Your tea will not come to you in a common bland white cup, with a pot on the side. What you will get is a bowl; beautifully crafted, fragile looking but strong and – baby soup size.

by Cate

by Cate

Of course food is very important. The right kind – to heighten your senses. Tea is usually served with a light nibble – Korean rice cake.

by Cate

by Cate

TeaStory shop stocks over a hundred types of teas from black to herbal medicinal. Mostly from Korea and China, but you can also see the English blends there as well. And if you desire teaware, the shop supplies exquisitely made pots and cups from Wedgewood, China, Japan and Korea.

 Last of all, once you have supped and eaten, there is the small gallery and museum to peruse around.

To get to TeaStory take subway line 5 to Jongno 3, exit 5. Walk to YBM Sisa, go right and follow the road to Insadong shopping street. TeaStory is located about midway up the shopping street on the left. At the back of an alley that sells antiques. Yes it is not easy to find. Like treasure, once you have found it, it’s worth it.

Caffeinated Traveller

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6 Comments
  1. Bear permalink
    December 9, 2008 11:57 pm

    It looks lovely. Every country has a nice way to enjoy coffee or tea don’t they.

    I’m in Japan on a short visit and am enjoying the tea here. Though noy yet from a bowl … I may not be sophisticated 😉

  2. December 10, 2008 2:30 am

    It is lovely and the teas divine. If you are in Japan there are many many tea places that serve tea in traditional ware. thats if you like green tea. I love the cafes – design, food presentation etc in the cities. Osaka is great for this and so is Fukuoka.
    Are you coming to Korea? If so I can show you around.

  3. December 15, 2008 2:48 pm

    Looks like its a “museum” worth visiting. Even for the tea and rice cakes! 😀 By the way Cate, are you a professional photographer? Your shot of that tea bowl is so dramatic. You gave life to a simple bowl. 😉

  4. Jas permalink
    January 23, 2009 3:14 am

    I remember traversing the back alleys of Insadong in 2003. I remember those alleys being some of my best memories in Seoul. But it saddens me that I didn’t stumble upon that tea house. Do you happen to know when TeaStory Museum was established?

    • January 23, 2009 5:13 am

      Judging by its interior I would say maybe not so long ago, but they claim to have been around for over ten years. It is a place that is easily missed unless you are with a local as it sits opposite a junk recyclers. I plan on visiting it again soon, the tea and the beautiful ceramics are a treat. Maybe you and Nobue should take a visit to Seoul sometime soon.

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