I’m one of many Boulderites who enjoys and finds pride in taking visitors to our landmark downtown Dushanbe Teahouse, a gift from our sister city in Tadjikistan (particularly on a cool summer evening). So when I heard from a Berlin native that the “must-see” place for tea there was also a Tadjik teahouse, I had to seek it out. What I found was quite different from our Boulder Dushanbe experience, and almost like a trip through an enchanting fairy tale.
The Tadschikische Teestube sits well hidden on the second floor of a theatre building in the center of the city of Berlin – near the museums, state opera house, and fancy Unter den Linden boulevard. Lacking a good map, it took me several tries through this neighborhood to find it. When I finally saw wood and deep bright colors on patterns clearly so typical of Central Asia through a second story window way down the street, I knew I had to be there.
When you enter the tea room, you must take off your shoes. The exotic atmosphere inside is immediately warming, relaxing, and very cozy, albeit cute enough to be a stage set. By contrast, I would say the Boulder teahouse feel is one of cool and uplifting calm. Both tearooms have wooden carvings on the ceilings – but the ones in Boulder are much higher and a lighter color; these are lower and closer to you – more warming, as they’re natural wood in color.
You’re invited to sit on silky pillows and handwoven carpets at a low table. Since I came alone, I was seated at a community table, which I shared with Ruby, a charming young lady who works at the Teestube and was relaxing there on her day off, and a wonderful American couple in graduate school in Louvain, Belgium – the same place at which my wonderful dad had done his graduate studies.
Sipping tea at the Tadschikische Teestube made me feel like I had been whisked away to the mountains of Tadjikistan. A gentle breeze came through the windows. Two women sat and chatted over their tea next to a samovar and a larger party enjoyed their own samovar of tea with a huge spread of food. We all fell right into the enchantment. Apparently, the Tadschikische Teestube was originally built as an exhibit for a world’s fair in the Soviet Union. After the fair, the Soviets brought the entire room to East Berlin and set it up as a gift to the city.
Also in contrast to the Boulder teahouse, the menu at the Tadschikische Teestube is decidedly Russian. I ordered their version of the traditional Russian tea ceremony, complete with spices to steep in your strong black tea, jams, and of course, vodka. My short afternoon at the Tadschikische Teestube made for a strong and wonderful memory. I can only imagine what a welcome place this would be to escape to and warm up in on a blistery winter Berlin afternoon. I look forward to experiencing it again and again!