Different types of contemporary cafes and tea shops are sprouting here and there. But in a small alley in Jung-gu, Daejeon, where streets are sometimes packed with busy people, there is a place for serenity and warmth that takes you back to ancient Korea.
For today’s story, we are featuring this elegant tea shop and our meeting with the shop owner, Ju Phil. Sosanwon, a Korean traditional tea house, provides a calming place where you can enjoy tea in a very traditional style. Sosanwon, literally means “small mountain shop”.
As soon as you close the store’s door behind you, you will feel the tea shop’s elegantly antique ambiance–wooden cabinets holding delicate ceramics and potteries, some traditional Korean calligraphies hanging on the walls, and little green plants that adds lively detail to the shop. The shop boasts not only of its fine teas but a good tea gallery.
Inside the tea shop
Traditional wooden cabinets carrying ceramic centerpieces and jars On the left side at the entrance, handmade ceramics are arranged in the wooden shelf In the center of the shop, a fascinating furniture holds delicate ceramics for display
Different kinds of ceramic teacups and teapots arranged beautifully in wooden shelves serves as backdrop while having a generous cup of tea
These colorful tubes and packages contain tea flowers and herbs which the shop sells for those who want to bring home their favorite tea
Ju Phil, owner and director of Sosanwon
A scheduled meeting with the owner happened on a rainy afternoon. It was really a perfect time to have some tea, I thought. The owner greeted us warmly and have us seated in front of him. He was the one who served us different kinds of tea. Meanwhile, through our conversations, we were able to know the deep meaning behind meeting over a tea.
As soon as we were seated, one staff gave us a beverage which was a cold grape juice. Actually, it tasted different than what I was expecting. I was wondering if there was really a slight hint of alcohol in it, similar to wine…
We found out that it was a wild grapes enzyme juice. The alcohol taste is probably due to the fermentation process it went through. This beverage is good for refreshment and for digestion. The owner told us that they don’t really serve this beverage to their customers, unless there are important guests. He was really a funny and light-hearted person.
He then asked me what is my favorite kind of tea. Unfortunately for me though, I only know the contemporary milk teas. I just told him that I really like sweet flavor. At once, he picked up a small vial of dried tea leaves from the cabinet beside him. He said it has a mysteriously sweet flavor… This is the Fine Dew tea (Goun-yiseul cha). According to the shop’s handbook, these kind of tea leaves are quite rare. At the first taste, there was actually no hint of sweetness. However, as soon as you swallow it, your tastebuds will delight in its sweetness. It leaves you a feeling of enchantment!
White magnolia tea
Another kind of tea he prepared was made from dried chrysanthemum flowers.
Siberian Chrysanthemum Tea
While he prepares the tea and my other two Korean friends are talking with him, I readied the camera for some photoshoot. There are too many interesting things to take pictures of!
Later, a package came into the store. It was a box set of tea cups and tea pots. He started to arrange them on the table. I started to think that he actually a tea set collector!
The design on these cups are very intricate. These are already prepared on the tea ceremony table.These little green plants are too irresistable!
I really like the inclusion of green plants inside the shop. The effect is really impressive and refreshing.
More traditional ceramicsEven the chairs are made up of wooden logsKorean traditional calligraphy and art. He said he got them in the nearby shops in Jung-gu. The place is actually known for Korean traditional shops.
It was a very fine experience for me to have been invited for a tea by Mr. Ju Phil himself. He didn’t ask us to pay for anything. Actually, the real meaning behind having some tea is to promote a good sense of friendship. This traditional tea shop is really made to treat people well. It was worth noting that traditional teas are very different from the contemporary tea shops which youths are more accustomed with.
I think, true serenity comes from a pure heart of wanting to just treat people well, or, in my case, of being treated well and accepting that warmth we have all shared.
Thank you so much, Mr. Ju Phil and the whole staff of Sosanwon!
I highly recommend you to try out this shop if you want to have some fine tea moments. Also, you can order their tea leaves online or view their products in their website here. If you are near Daejeon’s downtown, visit their shop in the map shown below!
Do you have any experiences of Korean traditional tea? Leave us a comment below.
Note: All pictures are personally taken by us. These photos are subject to copyright.