The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House is the second tea establishment in Boulder that I visited during my time there. Several people had recommended it to me, describing it as one of the most notable places to visit in Boulder. It certainly seemed to be a popular spot! When we stopped by it was bustling and very full, but eventually we found a spot from where we could fully enjoy the interior of the building.
This tea house comes with quite a story. It is a traditional Tajik choihona (tea house) gifted to Boulder by her sister city of Dushanbe in Tajikistan as a symbol of friendship and cross-cultural dialogue. Craftsmen built the tea house by hand in Dushanbe (no power tools!) after which it was deconstructed and shipped to Boulder. Here it was painstakingly reassembled, opening for business in 1998. The architecture of the tea house is stunning; I could have sat there for hours absorbing it. A profusion of detail covers the interior, with intricate Persian motifs winding around the carved ceiling and down the twelve interior cedar columns. In the centre of the tea house is a fountain with seven life-size copper figures based on a 12th century poem, “The Seven Beauties.” The interior is elegant and delicately spacious, but this is a tea house for socialising more than for solitary contemplation. Waiters dashed about, and a hubbub of conversation filled the air.
In addition to offering a good selection of tea, the Dushanbe Tea House also serves food: lunch, dinner, snacks, and full afternoon tea. I decided to stick to tea, ordering Ginger Mango Black Tea (Ceylon base) for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Although it hit the spot, I wanted more of the tea’s ginger aroma to come through in the drinking. I also sampled their Bamboo Fragrance Puerh, where the tea is roasted and stored inside a bamboo stick. Bamboo is a less common flavour for tea, but it suited the toasty puerh well. As variety goes, their selection of green tea is the most extensive, with over twenty pure and ten flavoured green teas.
Dushanbe Tea House also sells tea by weight and carries some tea wares (tetsubin, yixing, infusers and ceramic wares), but most of their business is of the eat- and drink-in variety; the tea houses of Central Asia are first and foremost social establishments. If you do want to take tea home with you, they sell 0.5lb, 1lb bags, and small and large tins of tea. The small tin holds between 0.4oz and 1.3oz—a good amount if you want to try a tea (unfortunately, not all their teas are available in small tins). In the event that you liked something but do not live in the Boulder area, they have an online store. However, if you do live nearby, it might be worth checking out the 13th Annual Rocky Mountain Tea Festival. It will be held at the Dushanbe Tea House on 28th and 29th July 2012, and features a range of tea-themed classes and workshops, including some ideas for cooking with tea!
All in all, the Dushanbe Tea House is a wonderful place to enjoy some tea. Lavish, intricate, and mesmerising, it is a space that offers you an experience of another country’s tea culture.
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