CHOOSE between 105 types of tea.
photo: Brian Jones
Where: Banská Štiavnica
Rating: 9 out of 10
AFTER an hour walking around the small but impressive botanic gardens in the central Slovak former mining town of Banská Štiavnica, you may find yourself craving a cup of tea as exotic as the surrounding trees.
There is an incongruous teahouse located above the town in the old klopačka, or clapper house, where in the past wooden boards were beaten to get the village out of bed. Climbing through the cobbled streets, past the crumbling vacant buildings, it appears on your right, perched with an unrivalled view of the town beneath.
As you enter through the small doorway, you are greeted by the sound of "world" music. The central room, with a glowing hearth, gives way to three others: one with a low ceiling and cushions strewn all over the floor; another with low tables, lit dimly by natural light; and a third where the kitchen dominates, one wall lined with dozens of jars of loose tea.
The menu, in Slovak and the language of tea, covers the globe - from Slovakia to South Africa to Vietnam. There are 105 kinds of tea in total: 18 types of green tea, five kinds of maté (a highly caffeinated herbal beverage from Argentina), nine kinds of herbal teas, five kinds of Arab infusions, and two kinds of the caffeine-free rooibos from South Africa.
Considering how long the servers let customers sit and savour their drinks and the mellow environment, the high prices are justified. Most of the teas are between Sk35 and Sk50 for a little pot that gives you two small cups. The most expensive tea is tomaryokcha, a Japanese green tea that costs Sk88.
For each drink, the tea is put in a glass pot and boiling water is poured over it. This is left for the required length of time, and then strained into the teapot for serving. When there are more than a couple of groups in the teahouse, you may wait a while, but it's worth it for the pleasure of an expertly made cup of tea.
Although the teahouse does not offer meals, or even substantial snacks, you can buy cookies and several types of dried fruit.
You can drink your tea in one of the four rooms, or, if the weather is good, outside on the spectacular terrace, where brightly painted wooden benches invite. There is a stage stands at one end of the terrace, suggesting music or theatre on a warm evening.
The Klopačka Teahouse is open between 11:11 and 23:23 on workdays.
5. May 2003 at 0:00 | Brian Jones