Zen is located a little bit outside the center of Riga, in a more dodgy, suburban area. This part of the Stabu Street is rather grey and personally not very enjoyable. When I first found Zen (which did not stand out at all) I hesitated to enter, as the place didn’t look very inviting – the windows were covered with blinds and small steps leading down to the door. A tea house was the last thing I would imagine being behind that door.
Inside everything looked slightly more interesting, there was asian-style seating areas with low tables and and floor cushions, divided by bamboo screens for more privacy and mood. Everything was decorated with traditional Chinese decoration, mainly some red touches and they even had slippers for customer use (if I would dare using them is another story). You could find games like domino, cards, chess and other board games placed all over.
Zen has a rich offer of Chinese green teas – we ordered two of them, the ordering process was quite awkward, as we had to take out every jar standing on the counter to see what types of teas they had. We took off our shoes and occupied one of the seating areas. There was chilled, relaxed music, very suitable for a tea house – it’s one of the better aspects of Zen. The tea arrived soon after in cheap tea ware – all pieces from different sets, pots made of glass and plastic mixed with small Chinese drinking cups. I had mixed feelings, until I tasted the tea. Both teas must have been old and long time expired and they were the worst teas I’ve ever head in any tea house. They were undrinkable and I mean undrinkable. Outrageous.
After spending about 15 minutes at Zen I noticed that the atmosphere was pretty cold, the lights were so dim, it seemed as if they were saving energy. Mixed with some daylight they provided a uncosy feeling. Dodgy, gloomy and depressing. I started feeling uncomfortable. There was also no sign of any service – they spent most of the time in the back-room and we haven’t seen much of them until we wanted to pay. My impression was that they were not very interested in their job.
Except for tea Zen has a wide offering of alcohol and you can also smoke water pipe here. This could clearly have been a great place for passing time for large groups of people, however most of the minuses mentioned above prevented me from enjoying my stay there. The only pluses is the music and the long opening times – until 2.00 on weekdays and even longer on weekends. I would like to believe that the owners had good intentions with their place, but I cannot recommend Zen as a good tea house. It was a disappointment and I will most likely not be coming back here.
Address – Stabu iela 6, Riga