There is only one place more relaxing than my own bed. And it’s one of Berlin’s best-kept secrets. Or, it used to be, until a couple of years ago when I became a regular and dragged carefully selected confidants along with me.
I’m not too worried about this place becoming the tea-lover’s Berghain*, though. It’s tucked away in an artsy courtyard, labelled “Kunsthof“. True to its name, the cobblestoned inner city glade makes a pretty picture: go at dusk to get the full benefit of the tree covered in fairy lights.
Stepping into the Tajik Tearoom will have the same effect on you as stepping into a bath. Yep, that includes stripping – um, shoes only, please. Once you’ve stowed them in the wooden shelf, turn and take in the full force of luxury: emerald walls will practically eat your eyeballs, but they’re tamed by Oriental wall hangings and elegant wooden pillars. Then your glance snuggles up on the floor, curling up on Persian rugs and silk cushions.
Of course, the menu is 70% tea and 30% anything else. But it is a very long menu. If you’re one of those strange, probably misunderstood people who doesn’t like tea, there are coffees, cocktails (with or without %) and milkshakes. Yet for a tearoom, they definitely know how to cook. Because of Tajikistan’s past, the tearoom can whip up some awesome Russian comfort food. In its old location next to the Russian embassy, the Tajik Tearoom would serve yummy things such bliny (pancakes) and pelmeni (dumplings) to Russia’s ambassadors.
The coolest thing on the menu, hands-down? A Russian tea ceremony with a samovar (handily and rightfully on the menu’s front page). First to arrive at your tea table are various bowls with mildly confusing confectionery: sugary sweets, orange and lime peel, rum-soaked raisins, jam, biscuits and (most and least surprisingly) vodka. Then the queen enters, the mother of all teapots, the samovar. Really, she’s not a teapot. She has a teapot perched on top of her, but she also has an enormous metal belly full of piping hot water. You pour a thin layer of super strong black tea into your glass cup, then if you turn the tap on the samovar she’ll top you up.
But… how to deal with the sweets? Pretty much however you like. Over time I’ve stumbled across some apparently authentic ways of using them with your tea (got some salt handy? Take a big pinch, just in case I’m lying to you). The jam can be used to sweeten the tea. The vodka can be used (whether this is normal or not) to alcoholize the tea. The little fruit-shaped sweets can be broken in half (because they’re so damn sweet) and put on your tongue, followed by a sip of tea resulting in a hot little taste party in your mouth. The fruit, so far, I have only eaten.
(Unpronounceable? Tajik Tearoom is also Google-friendly)
Oranienburger Str. 27, Mitte
*For the lucky ones out there who haven’t heard of Berghain, this is a place of darkness and a club with one of the longest queues in the world (probably) that prides itself on its harsh door policy. I still haven’t given up the 2 hours of my life to take my chances.