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Time for tea | © Igor Miske / Unsplash
Time for tea | © Igor Miske / Unsplash
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10 of the Most Authentic Teahouses in Seoul

Picture of Mimsie Ladner
Updated: 26 June 2017
While Seoul is known for its contemporary cafés and thriving coffee culture, the city is also home to a handful of charming, tucked-away teahouses that pay tribute to South Korea’s ancient tea traditions. Whether you’re looking to sample the flavors of handmade traditional beverages, or simply want to bask in the beauty of Korean architecture, these ten teahouses offer a true Korean tea experience in a way no other café can.

The Moonbird Only Thinks of the Moon

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Step into this quaint tea house tucked away into an obscure alley in Insadong and step back in time to an era when times were harder but life was simpler in Korea. Bric-a-brac such as old-fashioned household tools, oil lamps, and faded photographs dots every nook and cranny of this cramped but cozy shop. Soft lighting and traditional music add to the ambiance, making it a perfect place to enjoy the traditional teas on offer. A general description of each is listed on the multilingual menu.
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Gahwadang

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Meaning “a home with a beautiful picture,” Gahwadang in Samcheongdong is a traditional Korean teahouse housed in a horseshoe-shaped structure that resembles the Korean alphabet character “ㄷ”. Take your shoes off at the door and be mesmerized at the traditional aesthetics of the building as you pass through the stairway entrance, from its classic roof tiles to earthenware pots. The menu consists of traditional Korean teas, grilled garaetteok (rice cakes) and hangwa, traditional Korean confectioneries. Each table boasts a small notepad and colored pencils, in case you should be inspired with a great idea during teatime.
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Banjjak Banjjak Binnaneun

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Locals and tourists alike flock to this Insadong institution to sample the teahouse’s fusion beverages, such as their black bean smoothie or patbingsu (shaved red bean ice) but for a taste of true authenticity, go with their ssuktangcha. The main ingredient of this bitter tea is a special ssajuari (mugwort) from Ganghwa Island that has been aged for four years in sea fog. At 12,000 won (US$10.50) a cup, the tea certainly isn’t cheap, but is well worth the “steep” price. Try it with the baked injeolmi rice cake served with bean powder. It doesn’t get more authentic than this.
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Tea Therapy Haengrang

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Hidden on a side street, Tea Therapy is a respite from the crowded alleys of Samcheongdong and promises visitors a healing experience unlike any other run-of-the-mill café can. Customers are encouraged to fill out a short questionnaire to find the right tea for them, based on their specific health needs. It should be noted that Tea Therapy’s tea blends aren’t just thrown together by any old barista but rather a certified East Asian medicine doctor, who places great emphasis on incorporating medicinal ingredients while maintaining a nice balance of flavor and aroma.
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Suyeonsanbang

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Meaning “a small home in the forest where literary people used to meet,” the name of this teahouse is very appropriate, considering it was once the residence of late Korean author Lee Tae-jun, not to mention the setting of many of his short stories. Today, Suyeonsanbang is just as inspiring, thanks to its tucked-away location in a small forest of trees. The tea on offer is mostly of the Korean variety. Try the ssanghwacha, a medicinal tea made from a variety of herbs, or the citrusy, vitamin-packed yujacha.
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Dawon

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Nestled in the enchanting garden of Kyungin Museum of Fine Art in Insadong, Dawon is one of Seoul’s oldest teahouses, having been established more than thirty years ago. With more than 15 varieties of Korean teas ranging from pleasantly sweet to medicinal, there’s a beverage for every taste. Enjoy your tea on the outdoor terrace, or grab a seat inside the quaint hanok (traditional Korean house) for a truly authentic experience.
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Tteuran Tea House

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Forget about your worries as you while away an afternoon gazing through Tteuran Tea House’s large glass windows out at its serene courtyard garden. The serene atmosphere of the teahouse makes it an ideal spot to lose yourself in thought or have an intellectual conversation with a friend over a hot cup of omijacha, a unique “five-flavor berry” tea. Or, for something heartier, try the café’s sought-after patjuk, a tasty porridge made from dried azuki beans and topped with chewy rice cake balls made from glutinous rice flour.
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Graang Gallery Tea & Bar

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Housed in a charming hanok in the heart of Ikseondong, Graang is both a folk painting design studio and teahouse that merges traditional Korean aesthetics with contemporary, funky décor to create an incredibly unique space. Here, patrons can enjoy a wide range of specialty black teas (try the milk tea!) and freshly baked desserts such as scones and cakes. In the evening, cocktails and beer are available.
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Shin Old Tea House

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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Although its exterior may not be especially remarkable, Shin Old Tea House is a hidden gem worth seeking out. Located just a street away from the hustle and bustle of Insadong, this traditional Korean teahouse features floor seating and an atmosphere that is as tranquil as it is cozy. After a slow cup of tea at this charming sanctuary, you’ll feel enlightened and energized, ready to once again take on the bustling urban jungle that is Seoul.
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Yetchatjip

Tea Room, Tea , $$$
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One of the oldest (and most famous) of Seoul’s teahouses is Yetchatjip. Here, visitors enter the establishment through a verdant garden and are greeted by resident parrots that, on occasion, speak to passersby. The café’s maesilcha (plum tea) is the perfect combination of sweet and sour, while it’s patbingsu, a dessert made of shaved ice and homemade red bean topping, is the stuff to write home about. They also offer a selection of alcoholic drinks such as wild-strawberry wine and quince wine.
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