Some business we need to attend to before the tea gabbling commences: today marks my 100th post! This is borderline embarrassing after a full three years of blogging, but normal standards of success bother me not. Far better to set low expectations and revel in easily attained mediocrity.
In the space of a MoFo month, the count for my all-time hits has leaped to a jubilant 10,000. I typically admonish numbers as conniving instigators of paralipsis, but 2,388 hits in one month? And a 28 MoFo post tally? Let’s jut say I’m the stupidly grinning Cheshire Cat for Halloween. Oh and happy Day of Free Candy! Creepers patiently await this annual chance to cloak their actions in holiday patronage.
But now the topic du jour: the Tajikistan Tearoom. Originally gifted to East Germany by the Soviet Republic of Tajikistan, this slice of Asian culture situated in the heart of Berlin is so much more than an anecdotal history tidbit tailored for loquacious tour guides.
*Apologies in advance for my verbose tendencies!*
A spring breeze flutters and billows through gossamers of diaphanous curtains, seeking out the deep grooves of monolithic, carved wooden pillars. You relinquish shoes in the antechamber and quickly descend around a low table, settling onto rectangular, lush cushions colored complementary to the dulcet, sea green walls. A tepid smattering of conversation bobs about the deep recesses of the grand chamber as the fighting aura of stillness threatens to overwhelm. Your newly freed toes wiggle and squirm against the coarse fibers of the traditional Persian carpet. What austere, tactile pleasure of the highest order!
As you ruffle through thick pages of the vinyl-bound menu, a stampede of oriental tea libations—from matcha to chai to oolong—trample your decision-making skills with cloven hoof. While the tremendously gracious waitress translates one page of tea offerings after another, you spiral into a locked tunnel of vacillation. Suddenly, the waitress’ attention meanders towards your person and you desperately claw your way out of the brambles of indecision. “The anise infusion, please,” you submit in a feint of calmness. Fully committed, there is little else to attend to now but a lollygagging leg stretch.
At long last, a tray of colorful tea accoutrements is brought forth. A few seconds of admiration commemorate the proffered mug of finest Chinese porcelain, zealously guarding a textural trove of herbs within. A wary upheaval of the interlocking cover releases a smorgasbord of disparate aromas into the olfactory milieu. A licorice bite of anise, delicate undertone of citrus, mysterious infusion of acerbic pungencies… all is seeped and coerced into unity. A few lumps of rock sugar plunked in and voila! A pleasingly mellifluous beverage is ready for consumption.
Photo Credit: Rachel Minier
Deeply sip and savor the sweet bouquet. Sip and sweetly savor.
Fellows around the table extol a flurry of tea drinks as you nod your head in passive compliance with decorum. Names slide in and quickly out of cognizance–after all, you subconsciously aver, the only tea that deserves brain space is your own.
However, one magenta iced tea anchored by pineapple slices winks its xanthous lemon garnish in a coquettish plead for a portrait. You fumble for your compact Canon in the black of your pockets to snap a compulsory photo. Meanwhile, your ever-pugilistic vegan conscience battles against a yearning to nibble a sugar-coated tea biscuit. Said qualms are brushed aside, if only for the hour.
Scintillating varieties of rock sugars are cautiously taste-tested from their uniform bowels. The wind-swept and ethereal Emily Unruh becomes lost in pensiveness as she and others verbally sleuth the identity of each unknown sugar.
Fast-forward 3 or some odd days. Lizzy the All-Knowing (who earlier suggested a visit to Ritter Sport’s Bunte Schokowelt) deserves due credit for the discovery of this hidden Berlin gem. To commemorate the end of a week-long romp through Berlin, she and boyfriend Ben suggest a farewell Tajikistan dusk tea. Fitting, you concur.
In their celebratory exuberance, the couple spring for the Russian tea ceremony (€7.50 per person) while you order a soothing cup of oolong. From the glistening copper vat, Lizzy doles out portions of steaming water with an adroit flick of the spigot. An amorphous current of of strong black tea is then gracefully spouted into each waiting vessel. In covetous awe you examine the vast plethora of ceremonial accompaniments: candied lemon peel, rum raisins, various jams, chilled vodka, and a jar stuffed with cookies and tea biscuits. The dazzle of the new transports all into a garrulous frenzy of high spirits.
As you mindlessly spoon about the murky depths of your lemony cup of warmth and comfort, tomorrow afternoon’s impending flight (and indeed little else) can penetrate your deep mode of rumination. Berlin adventures may soon end, but these memories at the Tajikistan Tearoom are safely stored away for future reminiscing. The piquant amber broth, the soothing quiet of the calm, the glimmers of shared smiles: shrouded in sacred reverence, all.
Tajikistan Tearoom (Bahn: Friedrichstraße)
Am Festungsgraben 1
10117 Berlin, Germany