Fri 9 Jan 2009
If you’ve never visited this traditional Chinese tea house tucked away near the C&O Canal on Wisconsin Ave, you are in for a treat. Ching Ching Cha is an airy oasis from the hustle bustle of Georgetown’s crowded streets, shops and restaurants. Stepping into this Chinese tea house, it’s hard not to be surprised by the sheer openness of the space. The ceilings are high, the space is unobscured by walls (save for a small area around the kitchen). Arrive in the afternoon and you can enjoy sunshine streaming in from their skylight.
Afternoons are the ideal time to visit Ching Ching Cha as a break from the gruels of shopping. You can have a seat in the traditional tea house manner – shoeless, on the floor – or help yourself to one of their tables. Or you can ease your way out of shopping mode by perusing their significant collection of tea pots, teas and other small gift items.
The menu at Ching Ching Cha is inverse to that of most restaurants: pages upon pages of tea varieties tickle your curiosity and precede a single page of food options. Selecting tea is priority number one. There is enough tea variety to satisfy any palate. Options range from traditional black or green teas to light white with a touch of fruit to earthy, nearly tobacco-like options. My personal favorites are the performance teas – hand tied teabuds that unravel and bloom into flowers right before your very eyes. More details and photos after the jump!
Food at Ching Ching Cha is light and delicious. You can nibble on spicy boiled peanuts that made our friend Jenny reminisce about road trips through China with her uncle. A tomato tofu soup is light and refreshing, not the salty broth you anticipate from its American cousins. Heartier options like curried chicken and salmon with kale can cover larger appetites. Warm, steamed dumplings are always a crowd pleaser. Food prices match the lightness of cuisine with costs staying comfortably under $15.
It took me years to finally try Ching Ching Cha. Georgetown offers so many options that a quiet teahouse can be overshadowed by huge joints with prime real estate (Old Glory), or restaurants with intriguing interior design (Mei N’ Yu) or inexpensive convenience (La Madeline). But once I set foot into Ching Ching Cha, I kicked myself for waiting so long. It’s a great location and ambiance to bring visiting family or catch up with friends. You won’t spend a lot, you won’t have to strain to hear your companions and you’ll emerge feeling soothed and refreshed, like you just walked out of a different world.
Ching Ching Cha
1063 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007