Zen | Tea House Review

21 06 2009

Products  1
Decor       3
Sevice      2

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




3 responses

29 06 2009

I am a Latvian Canadian and haven’t been back to Latvia since the 1970s.
From that perspective, the fact that there even are tea rooms is still exciting!
Thanks for your review. Why were you there?
Did you notice how many tisanes there are? Herbals etc are still very
much in the culture and camelia sinensis is just not that well known.

29 06 2009

It seems like not much changes in Latvia overall, but there are one or two better tea houses there then this one.

And indeed, they to have a lot of herbal teas, but now camelia sinensis is even more common. They have a lot of tisanes like camomile blends, linden flower and peppermint.

3 10 2009

Wanted to share my experience with Zen. I’m local and years ago, about 2000th Zen were great place with great service. Tea was brewed before guests (optionally offering tea sharing ceremony) and hot water offered to make subsequent brews yourself.

In late 2008 or early 2009 I discovered all staff has been replaced with people, not having any interest in tea. I guess this days place floats just on water pipe smokers and those looking for dimly lit or private [tea] room. So I don’t wonder if you were offered tea from 2001 or so. Good place has gone, that said.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: