Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Starting My Day with Teaism

Continuing reports of “The Single Guy Goes to Washington” as I blog about my vacation visiting my sister in the Washington, D.C. area.

The weather in Washington, D.C., wasn’t as beautiful and sunny as my week in New York. In fact, it rained a few mornings and was otherwise overcast.

But nothing gets me back to the right state of mind than a cup of tea. So one morning when I had the day to explore D.C. on my own as my sister went back to work, I decided to start my day at Teaism.

Teaism is a local tea shop and restaurant with three locations within the Beltway. I visited its original location in Dupont Circle, just a few steps from a corner Starbucks.

Walking in, the décor reminded me of a lot of tea houses with the warm wooden furniture and colorful teapots on display. But the counter looked more like a café than a tea shop. You order at the counter and then pick up your food when it’s ready. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal if I was just grabbing a sandwich and juice, but I was planning to drink a pot of tea and relax in the dining area, which was on the second floor. (The first floor had counter seating along the window where several people plugged in their laptops as they sipped their morning cup of tea.)

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves a menu of dishes inspired by popular tea-drinking regions like Thailand, Japan, and India. For breakfast, they had a limited menu made up primarily of eggs, French toast and naan/raita.

I ended up ordering the cilantro scrambled eggs with tea-cured salmon ($9) and a pot of Earl Grey tea ($2.75). When my food was ready, I grabbed my tray and found a seat in the upstairs dining area, which is decorated with black-and-white photos of scenes from various Asian countries.

First off, I give Teaism points for brewing my pot of tea and removing the tea leaves. I always find this to be a nice distinction because many times when people leave the tea leaves in the pot, the tea just gets darker and bitter. So I appreciated this detail.

As for my cilantro scrambled eggs, I thought it was odd that there was not one piece of cilantro in it. Not even for garnish. Instead, it had bits of green bell pepper and slices of green onion (or spring onion some might say). While it tasted fine, it just bugs me that people publicize one thing and deliver another. To me, it’s like they think customers wouldn’t know the difference between cilantro and green onions.

If they had to make a substitution because they couldn’t get cilantro in all of D.C., it would have been nice to be told.

As for the rest of my plate, the tea-cured salmon was luscious and tasty, although I don’t know if I could detect any particular tea flavoring. I especially liked the naan, which was nice and warm. I don’t usually have naan for breakfast, so it was a nice twist.

Sitting by the window watching the drizzling rain fall upon the flowers below in Teaism’s front garden, I forgot about the silly balancing of the tray of tea pot and food as I walked up a flight of stairs and the fact that they don’t know cilantro from green onions. It’s amazing how a sip of tea can do that.

Side note: Teaism has an extensive list of quality tea for sale, but when I perused the inventory, none of them sounded rare or something I wouldn’t find in the Bay Area.

Teaism, 2009 R St. NW (at Connecticut), Washington, D.C. (Other locations in Lafayette Park and Penn Quarter). PH: 202.667.3827 (To order tea for delivery, call 1-877-8TEAISM.)

Teaism on Urbanspoon

Travel here too:
L’Orangerie at the Alvear Palace Hotel (Buenos Aires)


Kim said...

That's weird about the cilantro. Did you ask anyone about it?

agent713 said...

That is weird. I don't like cilantro so I wouldn't have ordered that dish. If I knew it was just green onions, I would have. Poor advertising on their part.

Single Guy Ben said...

Kim, I guess I should have said something. But when I was done, and I sipped my last cup of tea, I was so calm I totally forgot about it and I just wanted to explore my day. But yeah, I bet they could sell more of the scrambled eggs if they told people there WASN'T cilantro in it. I love cilantro so to me I was intrigued by the idea. So I guess I now have to make it myself.

foodhoe said...

I like the pairing of food to match the tea. I've always wanted to check out Samovar here in the city, which has something similar... Looks like a nice spot to start your day.

Carolyn Jung said...

No cilantro in all of DC? Too funny! Did the Asian restaurants horde it all or something? ;)