On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

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Jul 27th, '16, 03:10
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On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by Bok » Jul 27th, '16, 03:10

A lot of tea friends and travellers warmly recommend the Wistaria Teahouse in Taipei.
It has a charming atmosphere and a large selection of teas. Their pricing system with one tea per person minimum order is quite fair as well.
Staff is helpful.

What I am more concerned about is the quality of the tea. Previous reviews praised their teas.
I’ve been there a few times and I can not share that view. The Lishan I had last time was bluntly speaking – old and flavourless, by far not a good example of this category. No huigan, nothing, more like a standard flat tasting Alishan.

Tried a few Pu-Erhs which were ok, but nothing to get excited about, at least one gets more infusions. Also had other aged teas, like Tieguanyin and another which I forgot. Both on the more expensive end of the range Wistaria offers. Again, only okish, nothing that I would order again. I would have expected those aged teas to go for more infusions, but they flattened out after 6+ rounds.

Not sure if Wistaria has such a good reputation because it is more known among foreigners (mostly half of the customers are each time I went there)? I know the founder seems to be a very knowledgeable person in regards to tea, just not sure if that trickles down to the everyday customer in terms of what they get.

There are a lot of other tea houses nearby, but they do not specially cater to English-speaking customers, so are harder to find for the average visitor without local guidance. A bit further is an equally charming teahouse up in Jiufen(very touristy destination), which is on average more expensive for the tea, but has in my opinion much better tea. And a few down from the mountain onto the Keelung harbour :)

What am I saying in the end? Don’t trust the hype.

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Jul 27th, '16, 13:04
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by jayinhk » Jul 27th, '16, 13:04

Bok wrote:A lot of tea friends and travellers warmly recommend the Wistaria Teahouse in Taipei.
It has a charming atmosphere and a large selection of teas. Their pricing system with one tea per person minimum order is quite fair as well.
Staff is helpful.

What I am more concerned about is the quality of the tea. Previous reviews praised their teas.
I’ve been there a few times and I can not share that view. The Lishan I had last time was bluntly speaking – old and flavourless, by far not a good example of this category. No huigan, nothing, more like a standard flat tasting Alishan.

Tried a few Pu-Erhs which were ok, but nothing to get excited about, at least one gets more infusions. Also had other aged teas, like Tieguanyin and another which I forgot. Both on the more expensive end of the range Wistaria offers. Again, only okish, nothing that I would order again. I would have expected those aged teas to go for more infusions, but they flattened out after 6+ rounds.

Not sure if Wistaria has such a good reputation because it is more known among foreigners (mostly half of the customers are each time I went there)? I know the founder seems to be a very knowledgeable person in regards to tea, just not sure if that trickles down to the everyday customer in terms of what they get.

There are a lot of other tea houses nearby, but they do not specially cater to English-speaking customers, so are harder to find for the average visitor without local guidance. A bit further is an equally charming teahouse up in Jiufen(very touristy destination), which is on average more expensive for the tea, but has in my opinion much better tea. And a few down from the mountain onto the Keelung harbour :)

What am I saying in the end? Don’t trust the hype.
I believe Wistaria has a special menu you have to ask for. Also why isn't it called Wisteria? Lol

Jul 27th, '16, 13:54
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by daidokorocha » Jul 27th, '16, 13:54

jayinhk wrote:
I believe Wistaria has a special menu you have to ask for. Also why isn't it called Wisteria? Lol
Wistaria is an equally correct spelling of Wisteria, according to many. After all, Wisterias are named after a man named Wistar. Some major style guides promote Wistaria as the spelling.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100529110 ... 434030.ece

Jul 27th, '16, 15:50
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by ethan » Jul 27th, '16, 15:50

I remember the menu stating that there was more tea available, but possibly that was only for buying leaves to take away, not to drink there. I'm not sure.

I am sorry Bok had a disappointing time there. When he was w/ Jay & I, we were lucky to have ordered a balanced variety & well in terms of each tea; yet, we knew we had navigated past some strange choices.

The menu told almost nothing about specific flavors of the teas but rather tried to be poetic: This takes one on a walk through a forest on a beautiful morning in April. This tea puts one on the beach by a sandcastle....

I believe that we stayed there 2 1/2 hours & that Wisteria cost each of us US$11. We were on the floor (somewhat uncomfortably for my old bones) taking a fair amount of space. The staff did a great job of bringing fresh pots of water for heating where we sat,. We used the same cups for all 3 choices but not the same pots or gaiwans. We drank about 30 rounds of tea, almost 2 liters each. How much of Wisteria's $33 was for the tea?. Perhaps it would only cost 10 or 20 % more to provide only superior tea.

At Tealuxe in Harvard Square, a pot of tea costs half of Wisteria's price, but that is what one gets. No one comes to where customers sit. It is not clear what to do for a second infusion; & one is very unlikely to use leaves to steep again & again. There is no public toilet!

I have Lonely Planet's guidebook for Taiwan. Its description of Juifen Teahouse & some other places, will lead me to drink at some of them. I will try to remember to enjoy the atmosphere or view, because tea won't be the best. The best tea that I expect to encounter is when tasting w/ an eye to purchasing a tin or more of leaves.

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Jul 27th, '16, 18:26
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by Drax » Jul 27th, '16, 18:26

Hmm, I've never been to the Wistaria House, but I have one or two cakes from it (purchased through other channels).

I would put the tea (that I purchased at least) in the "good but expensive" category, meaning that I don't have a lot of it, and would instead prefer to purchase "good but cheap" puerh instead. :mrgreen:

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Jul 27th, '16, 21:54
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by jayinhk » Jul 27th, '16, 21:54

daidokorocha wrote:
jayinhk wrote:
I believe Wistaria has a special menu you have to ask for. Also why isn't it called Wisteria? Lol
Wistaria is an equally correct spelling of Wisteria, according to many. After all, Wisterias are named after a man named Wistar. Some major style guides promote Wistaria as the spelling.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100529110 ... 434030.ece
Wow, thank you for that tidbit! I thought they'd made a spelling error and just ran with it for years!

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Jul 27th, '16, 22:59
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by kyarazen » Jul 27th, '16, 22:59

Bok wrote:A lot of tea friends and travellers warmly recommend the Wistaria Teahouse in Taipei.
It has a charming atmosphere and a large selection of teas. Their pricing system with one tea per person minimum order is quite fair as well.
Staff is helpful.

What I am more concerned about is the quality of the tea. Previous reviews praised their teas.
I’ve been there a few times and I can not share that view. The Lishan I had last time was bluntly speaking – old and flavourless, by far not a good example of this category. No huigan, nothing, more like a standard flat tasting Alishan.

Tried a few Pu-Erhs which were ok, but nothing to get excited about, at least one gets more infusions. Also had other aged teas, like Tieguanyin and another which I forgot. Both on the more expensive end of the range Wistaria offers. Again, only okish, nothing that I would order again. I would have expected those aged teas to go for more infusions, but they flattened out after 6+ rounds.

Not sure if Wistaria has such a good reputation because it is more known among foreigners (mostly half of the customers are each time I went there)? I know the founder seems to be a very knowledgeable person in regards to tea, just not sure if that trickles down to the everyday customer in terms of what they get.

There are a lot of other tea houses nearby, but they do not specially cater to English-speaking customers, so are harder to find for the average visitor without local guidance. A bit further is an equally charming teahouse up in Jiufen(very touristy destination), which is on average more expensive for the tea, but has in my opinion much better tea. And a few down from the mountain onto the Keelung harbour :)

What am I saying in the end? Don’t trust the hype.
ever talked to the founder/zhou yu on that? if i'm in your shoes i'll have a word with zhou yu, because wistaria is an icon in the "雅文化" category and they have been doing quite well in this aspect.

although i have to admit that a famous local tea house here in singapore... tea.. c****** is known to serve stale and unfresh tea prepared in ziploc bags and..i'll not be in any bit interested to talk to the founder/owners, the manager's super cocky, and remains to be still like that for god knows how many years.

on the aspect of aged tea flattening out in 6 brews.. thats normal.... :) it depends on the grade that was being aged

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Jul 27th, '16, 23:03
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by jayinhk » Jul 27th, '16, 23:03

Thanks for saving me the trouble of going to Tea C*****r ;)

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Jul 27th, '16, 23:16
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by Bok » Jul 27th, '16, 23:16

kyarazen wrote: ever talked to the founder/zhou yu on that? if i'm in your shoes i'll have a word with zhou yu, because wistaria is an icon in the "雅文化" category and they have been doing quite well in this aspect.
on the aspect of aged tea flattening out in 6 brews.. thats normal.... :) it depends on the grade that was being aged
Did not get the chance to talk to the owner. All the times I have been there, were rather late and the owner not present.
But nonwithstanding my so so experiences with their tea, I am sure it is worth having a chat with this tea-icon!

Could also be a case of “foreigners don’t understand tea anyway, just give them the leftover leaves”
Must have been lucky with aged tea then, I never had them flat out so quickly before.

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Aug 24th, '16, 12:58
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by wyardley » Aug 24th, '16, 12:58

Bok wrote: Could also be a case of “foreigners don’t understand tea anyway, just give them the leftover leaves”
Must have been lucky with aged tea then, I never had them flat out so quickly before.
I don't think that's the case, some stuff there may not be the best value (though more on that below), but I'm pretty sure you're getting the same thing you order there regardless of your ethnic background or wealth. If anything, I think they might give foreigners extra hospitality at times. Also, they're usually happy to refer you to someone else if you're looking for something they don't specialize in or aren't happy with their offerings in a particular area. If you return, maybe try to write ahead of time and see if Sophie will be around.

And while it's been maybe 6 years since I've last been to Wistaria, at that time, at least, they did have some pretty good teas on their regular menu. It is true that some of the less rare teas on the teahouse menu are probably more expensive than what you'd pay for comparable loose tea elsewhere; you're paying for the water, service, teaware, etc., in addition to just the leaf. And I think overall, the base quality of everything is at least solid.

Their aged dong ding are really special, and they have some old pu'ers that are also really good. Some of the pu'ers that are not overly expensive do have a lot of storage taste, which may or may not be to your liking; if they still have the 1920s shuanghua, I would really recommend trying that one. It's very smooth and calming. In terms of the durability, was your water still hot? I could see certain older teas giving out a little early, depending on their storage and how much dry leaf you were given, but I would expect them to last past 5 or 6 infusions.

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Aug 24th, '16, 22:59
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Re: On Wistaria Teahouse Taipei

by Bok » Aug 24th, '16, 22:59

wyardley wrote:It is true that some of the less rare teas on the teahouse menu are probably more expensive than what you'd pay for comparable loose tea elsewhere; you're paying for the water, service, teaware, etc., in addition to just the leaf. And I think overall, the base quality of everything is at least solid.
I agree, prices are ok, compared to what you pay for tea in Taipei. Not saying they have bad tea, just seems sometimes the expectations or review of Wistaria are a bit too ravishing for what it really is.

Might be due that it mostly comes from foreigners passing by in Taiwan, who might not have the experience to make a more educated comparison. I do not think many who live here for longer will return often. I only go there if I have guests, as the surroundings are nice. But the vibe is definitely a tad “tea-touristy.” Places like Qiushan Tang in Taichung less so (admittedly not as beautiful as a space itself). Have not had many of my Taiwaneses (tea)acquaintances who frequent it or even know about it…
wyardley wrote: Their aged dong ding are really special, and they have some old pu'ers that are also really good. Some of the pu'ers that are not overly expensive do have a lot of storage taste, which may or may not be to your liking; if they still have the 1920s shuanghua, I would really recommend trying that one. It's very smooth and calming. In terms of the durability, was your water still hot? I could see certain older teas giving out a little early, depending on their storage and how much dry leaf you were given, but I would expect them to last past 5 or 6 infusions.
Water was ok and we where three and kind of agreed on the quality of the teas.

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