In the city that Ang Lee choose to shoot the movie Life of Pi, Taichung manages to blend the old and the new, the busy and the calm, high end polished service establishments and common street corner stands. As in most Asian cities this one is not short of many tea houses. Shuei Wu Tea House is just one of many. Or is it?
Set at an extremely busy intersection, tucked away from traffic noises and surrounded by huge skyscrapers this tranquil spot captures the essence of calm. The secluded and multi level outdoor deck is carved in such a way as to create pockets of privacy while embracing natural elements of water and trees. Small and medium sized colorful fishes breathe life to a lazy flowing stream that seems to go nowhere. The huge bench which acts as a transition between outdoor and indoor is carved from a single piece of log.
The lower level of this two storied sanctuary is anchored by a calming surface of rock tiles. A floating ceiling with recessed spotlights cozied the expansive interior. Dark chocolate porcelain tiled floor formed a solid foundation for rich wooden tables and leather chairs. The spotted hanging lights added a touch of mystique. Even though the space is wide open the tables are aptly placed at a private distance. I did not venture upstairs as it looked empty.
A light fare is served with emphasis on tea. Most beverages I saw on the tables were in tall glassware. My drink was a delicious strong brew of oolong tea, with tea jelly. The tea jelly is gelatin-like cut into little square forms. To the brewed tea is added these squares which make the tea concoction even stronger. It is served with a long spoon for stirring and eating. With this tall glass of tea no wonder why people graze around here for hours.
I was particularly taken by the total ambiance. Literally, four steps and you were in the middle of mind blowing traffic. Step back into the shadows of calmness and the tea house provided a space of total relaxation. It never cease to amaze me how intelligent design and carefully crafted spaces can bring a sense of calm and peace in the middle of fluid motion.