5 Traditional Tea Houses in Taipei that I’m Obsessed With

In the last 10 years or so, coffee shops have been all the rage in Taipei. New ones are popping up all over the place and young people flock to them. While I do love a good coffee shop, I especially love a traditional teahouse (茶館 or cha guan).

Luckily there are still a few traditional tea shops left in Taipei – you just have to know where to find them!

In this article, I’m going to introduce the best tea houses in Taipei, all which I have personally visited, where you can experience gongfu cha (功夫茶 or “kungfu tea”), the art of skilled tea-making.

What to Expect at a Traditional Teahouse

A traditional tea set laid out on a table with glass window facing an internal courtyard
Qingtian Tea House in Taipei

In the traditional teahouses I’ll introduce below, some will provide guidance for how to prepare your tea and some will not.

First, you’ll be given a menu with a range of local Taiwanese teas, which are mostly but not all oolongs. But you may also see teas such as pu’er or others imported from China. You can learn about the main types of Taiwanese teas here.

Vertical image looking up a long row of little white plates, each displaying a different type of Taiwanese tea, and a hand grabbing one of them
Various Taiwanese teas on display at Pinglin Tea Museum in New Taipei City

The prices you see on the menu are for a portion of that tea. It’s usually enough for one or a few people to sit and brew multiple rounds of tea – this can easily take 1 to 3 hours.

On top of the tea price, there’s usually a “water fee” which is charged per person. You’re not really paying for water – consider this the rental fee for using this space, the kettle, and all the nice equipment you’ll be using to brew the tea.

If you are new to this, most shops will give you a rundown and help you to make your first brew. You will only use a portion of the tealeaves provided each time, and each portion can be brewed multiple times.

Looking straight down at a traditional Taiwanese tea set on a black table, with kettle, cups of tea, tea pot, various utensils, and some plates with dried fruits
A typical tea set with snacks

The time the leaves should soak varies by tea type, and generally gets longer for each brew. For example, for this type of tea, you might need to brew it for 30 seconds the first time, then add 15 seconds for each subsequent brew, finishing after 5 or 6 brews.

Different teas have different ideal water temperatures, too. One tea might brew better at 80°C (such as a green tea) while another is 100°C (a black tea), while oolongs fall in between.

For beginners, you don’t need to worry too much about these fine points – it’s OK if you don’t do it perfectly.

An elaborate tea set on a table with window facing rock garden outside
Traditional utensils for making gongfu tea

The first brew will often be used to “rinse” the tea and the teaware, then discarded instead of drunk. After dumping it, you should smell inside your teacup to appreciate the scent.

Once you’ve brewed some tealeaves multiple times and they are losing flavor, you discard the used tealeaves into a receptacle provided, then start a new portion. If you have leftover tealeaves at the end, you could ask to take them home.

Two pairs of traditional wooden sandals beside a tatami mat on the floor of a teahouse
Wooden sandals at Wistaria tea house

For a more detailed introduction to gongfu tea making, including all the steps and how to use the equipment and utensils provided, I suggest watching a few videos first, like this one and this one.

Most teahouses also sell some little snacks to accompany the teas.

The Best Taipei Tea Houses

Here are my personal favorite teahouses in Taipei.

Wistaria Tea House

A young man sitting at a traditional Taiwanese tea table smiling at the camera
My friend at Wistaria

Wistaria Tea House (紫藤廬) is the most well-known traditional teahouse in Taipei. It’s here in Da’an district just south of Da’an Park, an area known for its many Japanese-era wooden houses (Taiwan was a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945).

To begin, there’s a wealth of history behind Wistaria (it even has its own Wikipedia page). The building dates to the 1920s, when it was built to house Japanese naval personnel. After WWII, it was the home of a member of government.

In the 1980s, during the White Terror, the house was used as a meeting place for political dissidents (see image below). In 2008, it was renovated and reopened as a teahouse.

A framed, black and white photo of a dozen or so Taiwanese people sitting at a low table having tea
Historic photo in Wistaria Tea House

Entering the teahouse feels like stepping into the past, with its rickety wooden floors and tatami seating rooms (there’s also a room with regular seats and chairs). One room contains displays on the history of the building.

On the menu (English and Mandarin available), there’s a long descriptive paragraph about each tea to help you decide.

Besides a range of Taiwanese and Chinese teas (TWD 350 to 400 each, water fee included), there are around a dozen snacks available (TWD 100 to 120).

A tea set on the edge of a wooden table, with brown round kettle, two tea cups, gaiwan, white tea pot, and other utensils for brewing tea
Our tea set with two teas

While Taiwan is most famous for its oolong teas, my friend and I went for a white tea and a Wuyi rock tea, both from China. We also tried some dried star fruit and preserved plums.

The staff at Wistaria can speak English and are happy to do a demonstration of how to prepare your first brew.

After that, you’re left to your own and can stay for up to three hours. Kids are allowed as long as they are quiet and don’t roam around.

A room in a traditional tea house, with several tables and benches beside them and round window with star shape
Table seating if you don’t prefer the low tables

The teas here are charged per person (water fee included). Each person must order one tea, but of course you can brew and share the as you wish.

Credit cards are accepted. Note that they are closed on Tuesdays. There are many tables inside so you can just show up, but you may want to reserve on a weekend or national holidays.

Nick Kembel sitting at a low tea table with tea set in front of him
And that’s me…

Qingtian Teahouse

A wooden door framed by cement pillar with red poster with Chinese couplets on it, and beside on the wall is a poster for a traditional tea house
Entrance to Qingtian Teahouse

Another of my favorite tea houses in Taipei is Qingtian Teahouse (青田茶館, here), which is in the same area as Wistaria but directly west of Da’an Park.

Qingtian Street (青田街) and the dozen or so lanes branching off from it is one of the most atmospheric neighborhoods in Taipei. It is filled with Japanese-era wooden houses, many of which used to house Japanese professors when National Taiwan University was called “Taihoku Imperial University”.

The exterior of a wooden Japanese-style house with trees all around it
Exterior of Qingtian tea house

Today, some of these old houses are decaying, covered in vines and shaded by huge trees. Others have been renovated into cool restaurants (like Qingtian 76) or traditional teahouses (like Qingtian Teahouse).

To get here, from Dongmen MRT, you can walk all the way down Yongkang Street (known for its many great restaurants) until it dead ends and you will be almost there.

Compared to Wistaria, Qingtian Teahouse feels quieter and more personal, but it’s also more expensive. The building itself gorgeous.

A Taiwanese woman wearing face mask, seated at a black table, preparing some tea in the traditional method, with window behind her facing a traditional courtyard
A staff member prepares my first round at Qingtian tea house

A few tables look into a lovely internal courtyard, while others are in more private rooms within. Just like at Wistaria, the staff can speak English and can show you how to brew the tea.

Serious tea geeks will appreciate some of the finer tea options available here, which range from TWD 450 to 1600 for a portion, with a total of about 10 teas.

One portion can be shared by several people, but each person (whether you are solo of multiple people) will be charged an additional water fee of 200.

A complex tea set arranged on a table, with two snacks at the front and various utensils and tea ware
My tea set with some snacks I ordered

Under the staff’s recommendation, I splurged on a sheng pu’er called gushu hong cha (古樹紅茶), or “ancient tree red tea”.

There’s a whole write-up on their the menu in Mandarin about these ancient tea trees (use GoogleTranslate on your phone to read it). The tea was exceptional.

Close up of a small white tea cup filled with silvery green dried tealeaves
Beautiful ancient tree sheng pu’er that I ordered

Visiting alone, at 900 for my tea + 200 water fee + 200 for a couple snacks, this was not the cheapest experience, but worth every 元 in my opinion.  

There is another similar teahouse next door to Qingtian Teahouse, also in a very cool heritage building, called Hehe Qingtian Teahouse (和合青田). This one offers a guided tour and tea experience for TWD 600 per person, but it requires an advance reservation.

Yashe Teahouse

A traditional gongfu tea set on a table, with white tea cup, chawan, tea pot, and black hot water kettle, and more tables in the background in a traditional teahouse setting
My tea set at Yashe

One more traditional teahouse I want to introduce in the same area is Yashe Teahouse (啞舍永康, here), which faces the southeastern corner of Yongkang Park at the heart of Yongkang Street.

This small, traditional tea house doubles as a restaurant and douhua (豆花 or tofu pudding) shop, but what we really care about here is of course their gongfu tea.

Inside a traditional Taiwanese tea house with a pot for hot water in a square shaped indent in the wooden floor and some seating around it
Traditional tea prep station and seating

From the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but the interior of this little teahouse is really something to look at.

A traditional tea brewing station is the centerpiece of the room, with several tables facing it. It’s really how I would imagine a teahouse to look in ancient times.

There’s a long list of teas available here, from classic Taiwanese ones to pu’ers from China, with some English descriptions. English ability of the staff is a little more limited but you should be able to get by. They’ll give you some pointers if you need it, too.

A Taiwanese tea set on a bamboo mat on a wooden table, with bamboo stick holding some black tealeaves, cup of tea, white tea pot, and white gaiwan
The portion of Taiwanese Ruby Red tea I ordered.

Prices range from TWD 180 for a single cup of hot or iced tea, or 300 to 800+ for gongfu tea with all the gear, plus TWD 180 water fee per person.

When I visited, I had the place to myself the whole time I was there. Everything, from the lovely setting, equipment, tea itself, to welcoming staff, was top notch.

I’ve read it can get busy, though. And for serious tea drinkers, you may not appreciate the smells if there are people having full meals around you.

Eighty-Eightea Rinbansyo

Exterior of an ancient wooden Japanese building with sign on the front indicating it is a tea shop
Exterior of Eighty-Eightea Rinbansyo tea house

If you’re looking for a cheaper tea experience but still in a traditional setting, then I recommend Eighty-Eightea Rinbansyo (八拾捌茶輪番所) here in Ximending.

This is another wonderfully preserved Japanese-era wooden house, in this case right next to the ruins of a Shinto shrine, the Nishi Honganji Remains (西本願寺). The building dates to 1924 and once served as the head priest’s residence.

A Taiwanese tea set on a wooden tray on a wooden table in the foreground, with more tables in a traditional Japanese tatami room in the background
Simple tea sets in a traditional setting

For TWD 350, you can get a cute tea set which includes your choice of tea (5 Taiwanese teas to choose from) and two little snacks (10 to choose from). There’s no water fee.

When you enter, you order and pay in the first room, then take a seat in the lovely tatami room at the back and they will bring it out to you. The tatami room overlooks a small garden.

Close up of a tea set on a wooden tray on a wooden table, with white pot, tea cup filled with tea, three cookies on a little plate, wooden spool, and bowl of brown cubes of jelly
My tea set with almond cookies and tea jelly

When I visited, there were some young guests in cosplay shooting their photos beside the garden.

This is not gongfu tea with all the utensils, perfectly timed brews, and so on. Rather, you get a small pot with the tealeaves and hot water already added. When it runs out, you can ask the staff to add more hot water.

Looking along a wooden balcony of a traditional teahouse, with wooden sliding doors on the left and a garden on the right
The tea room overlooks a garden.

This is a high value experience in a gorgeous setting. It’s hard to believe such serenity can be found mere steps from bustling Ximending!

You can walk in at slow times, but for weekends you’d want to book.

Maokong Teahouses

A classical Chinese teahouse setting, with fountains, traditional decorations, flowers, and private rooms
A traditional teahouse at Maokong

Maokong (貓空) is a tea-growing region on the edge of Taipei. It has the highest concentration of traditional teashops you’ll find anywhere in Taipei.

The Maokong Gondola (access: Taipei Zoo MRT) goes right up into the area. But even when the gondola is not running (Mondays, annual repairs, during heavy wind or rain), you can also take a bus there from here across the street from Taipei Zoo.

A hand holding up a soft serve ice cream that is green and brown swirl, with a green cat shaped cookie on it
Baozhong and tieguanyin swirl ice cream

There are more than 40 teahouses in Maokong area, some of which overlook small tea plantation of even have views of Taipei 101 in the distance.

Light, melon-scented Baozhong tea (包種茶) and toasty Tieguanyin (鐵觀音茶 or “Iron Goddess”) are the two main teas produced in the area. Both are oolong teas, with the former being a little lighter and the latter being a little darker and more roasted.

A Maokong tea experience can range from a getting a baozhong or tieguanyin ice cream and going for a stroll to enjoying a simple one-person tea sets (see below pic) to full-on gongfu tea experience in one of the teahouses.

A small tea cup and tea press full of green-colored tea on a wooden ledge, with a natural view beyond
Tea in Maokong with a view

Personally, I usually just go for tea ice cream or the simple sets here, unless I’m visiting with a group, like when I took my whole family there. For gongfu tea, the portion of tea that some shops sell is larger (and pricier), so it only makes sense if you’re sharing the cost among several people.

Besides ice cream, you can also try tea-infused foods at some of the teahouses or restaurants in Maokong. These include tea-oil noodles, deep fried tealeaves, tea roasted eggs, and chicken with tea oil.

I’ve recommended my personal favorite tea shops and restaurants at Maokong here in my Maokong Gondola guide.

A white plate with a heaping mound of thin white noodles surrounded by greenish-yellow sauce
Tea oil noodles

For more impressive tea fields than what you can see at Maokong, I suggest you visit nearby Pinglin in New Taipei City instead.

In Pinglin village, you can visit the Pinglin Tea Museum or rent a bike and ride past tea farms just across the river south of town. Nearby, the Bagua Tea Plantation is arguably the most beautiful tea plantation in the Northern Taiwan.

It’s possible to visit those on your own, but much easier if you join this Pinglin half day tour or Maokong and Pinglin full day tour.

A Few More Tea Shops Worth Mentioning

A wooden tray with white plate with slice of matcha pie with matcha sauce on it, a small metal cup of the sauce beside it, and a cup of green matcha tea
Matcha tea and desserts at Matcha One
  • Matcha One (Qidong Shop, here) The best matcha tea house in Taipei, with various types of matcha, matcha ice cream, and picturesque matcha desserts, in a beautiful Japanese era house.

    The Instagram crowd is well aware of this shop, so it’s always busy. Make your booking here.
Exterior of a traditional Japanese-style house with a sign outside indicating it is a matcha ice cream shop
Exterior of Matcha One
  • Jing Sheng Yu (京盛宇, here) This is yet another teahouse in Yongkang Street, offering a modern tea tasting experience.

    Professional, nicely designed, and spotlessly clean, they offer samples to help you decide and have SunnyHills pineapple cakes to go with the teas. They have items you won’t find in traditional teashops, like tea bags (containing quality tea), decaffeinated teas, and more.
A traditional teahouse in Taipei with no one in it
Liyu Teahouse
  • Liyu Teahouse (柳隅茶舍, here) A small traditional teahouse in the underground mall of fortune tellers below Longshan Temple and connected to Longshan Temple MRT station.
  • ASW Tea House (沃森茶酒館, here): A British afternoon tea experience in a modernist building on Dihua Street, which once housed Taipei’s first Western pharmacy. British and Taiwanese teas are available. In the evening, the floor above it is a turn-of-the-century absinth bar called Antique Bar 1900.
A round plate with scone and cream, tea pot beside it, and tea cup full of black tea, beside a window with a view of a rainy street outside
Afternoon tea at ASW Tea House
  • Letterpress Tea House (無事生活 活版印刷小茶館 here). This one comes recommended by one of the members of my Taiwan Travel Planning group.

    It’s run by three sisters, who each add their own touch, such as letterpress typing, music, and flower arrangements, to the tea experience. It’s in a quiet neighborhood south of Xiangshan.

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