It's 5pm on a Wednesday and Angie Wang has already had about five or six cups of tea. Not your coveted Barry's or Lyons now, but deeply rich Chinese blends that you won't find anywhere else in Dublin.
Angie is the owner of The Vintage Teapot, a beautiful hideaway that will transport you away from the roadworks of O'Connell Street and to a bustling Chinese tea salon instead. Hailing from the Hunan Province in the southern part of China, Angie is passionate about bringing authentic food and culture over to Dublin.
Stepping into this little-known tearoom in Dublin 1, I found a haven in the city I never even knew existed. Spread over three floors (private events in the basement, the main tearoom on ground floor and a swish dining room for parties upstairs), you could easily spend hours in here.
Asian sweets, steaming hot teas made from leaves of green, black and every colour in between and luxurious little details make this a secret you'll almost not want to share.
Tucked away on Cathedral Street is a Chinese tearoom that's so beautiful you won't want to leave...
Angie Wang designed every little detail – from the bamboo tea menu to the birdcage cake holders – and is passionate about sharing Chinese culture.
The Vintage Teapot isn't Angie's first venture in Dublin, as she's also the lady behind the hugely popular M&L Chinese restaurant, located across the road.
This tearoom however, is another world. A shipping container came directly from China with handpicked furnishings and delicate tea cups, while their Afternoon Tea is presented in a vintage birdcage frame.
A tea menu printed on bamboo might confuse at first with its mysterious sounding teas, but one chat with Angie will point you in the right direction. Unlike anonymous chain cafes, staff will go above and beyond to help you pick a tea you'll love and will share all you need to know about Chinese tea.
Just like a tearoom in China, you're invited to make your own tea (Angie will show you how) and chill out – tearooms are to China what pubs are to Ireland.
Think you know how to make tea? Let me tell you, one trip here and you'll know you don't. Depending on the type of tea leaf, the temperature of the water and steeping time all vary, making Chinese tea a true art.
Customers are invited to pick their own tea leaves and brew their own pots, with refills offered and the afternoon I popped by the downstairs room was filled with a peaceful mix of students and professionals taking some time out to sip and chill.
Open until as late as 11pm on weekends, what I love most about The Vintage Teapot is that it offers somewhere gorgeous to hang out in the evenings other than a bar.
There's gorgeous little nooks where you can have afternoon tea and a reading corner...
A tucked away area at the back of the cafe is, I'm told, already hugely popular for afternoon tea since The Vintage Teapot opened last summer.
Embroidered wallpaper, velvet and silk cushions and hanging chandeliers give it a Mulan meets Marie Antoinette vibe that's unique to this particular tearoom in town.
A reading corner seems at first glance to mostly have Chinese literature but I spy a few English books and it's a cosy corner with leather couches and dim lampshades that will light up your book while you nibble on some home baked treats and tea.
Hidden away upstairs is a private room with china tea cups, velvet chairs and embroidered tablecloths for a glam party.
Used mainly for private parties (it's a big hit with Hen Parties apparently, and considering the glamour surroundings and the offer of food from M&L Chinese and karaoke until well past midnight, I can see why), the room upstairs is simply fab.
Delicate porcelain and lush dark armchairs? You'd think you were closer to Shanghai than the Spire.
Hungry? Food is provided by the beloved M&L Chinese restaurant just across the road.
Yep, the M&L Chinese. Legendary for its authentic Chinese menu that means you'll be dining with the locals and Szechuan cuisine, M&L is a firm favourite among Asian food lovers in town.
Hunan, where Angie is from, just like Szechuan is known for its seriously spicy food. There's a saying in Hunan: "La bu pa" which losely translates as "not afraid of spicy" – so chow down with care or ask for a milder recommendation if you can't handle the heat.
Dumplings are served all day and they also do brekkie for the early birds.
Basically, Angie just wants Irish people to discover the beauty of Chinese tea culture and her love for it is incredible.
There's always something exciting happening: Chinese tea ceremonies that demonstrate the ancient ritual of tea making, Oriental flower arranging, dumpling cookery classes and traditional Chinese music mean you'll soon be popping in here on a night out instead of the pub.
Believe me, one visit here and you'll be back again and again.
You'll be joining Angie in the six cups a day habit in no time. I know I will.
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