|Traditional Teas and Korean Dessert Cafés in Seoul|
Turn down a narrow alley in certain neighborhoods in Seoul, and you are likely to find unique and charming cafés selling traditional teas and snacks. There are many such cafés in Insa-dong, Samcheong-dong, and other neighborhoods that are known for preserving their Korean traditional beauty. Traditional tea shops offer hot teas like jujube tea, citron tea, and ginger tea, as well as cold beverages like sujeonggwa and sikhe. Korean teas are great for warming the body and preventing a cold, so they are especially popular in winter. Recently, some cafés have begun offering fusion desserts that mix Korean and Western influences, such as hotteok pancakes and rice cake sandwiches.
OGADA: Medicinal tea to go
OGADA (오가다) is a medicinal tea take-out shop. Its unique menu offering includes various medicinal herb teas with modern twists. Before each tea is premiered, it is tested for medicinal effects by an Oriental doctor. Medicinal herbs are carefully selected so that the teas can be consumed by all customers, regardless of their health conditions. OGADA’s menu consists of about 40 teas, the most recommended of which are the sipjeondaebocha, infused with 12 medicinal herbs; the fragrant Chinese quince and citron tea; and the apple ginseng yam juice. OGADA currently operates 50 stores nationwide, including ones in Incheon International Airport, D-Cube City in Sindorim, and Seoul City Hall.
5 Cijung: A gallery café offering healthful drinks
5 Cijung (오시정) is a small gallery café whose name means ‘Heart of writing five poems’. The interior accents are cute and fun, and some of the decorations are available for purchase. The café is famous for healthful treats such as persimmon yogurt and fresh ginseng milk. Drinks are served with a warm scone and banana-orange marmalade. There are currently ten branches, including ones in Samcheong-dong and Hongdae districts, and on Garosu-gil Road in Sinsa-dong.
W.e.: Offering Korean-Western fusion desserts
W.e. is a café that serves desserts that blend traditional Korean and Western cuisines. Popular street snacks such as hotteok and roasted sweet potatoes are reinterpreted into elegant and tasteful desserts served in a comfortable indoor setting. The hotteok pancake, W.e.’s signature dessert, comes with made-to-order hotteok (Korean pancakes with a sweet nut filling) served with a selected topping such as mixed berries, pan-fried apple, or banana, and an injeolmi (rice cake) ice cream on the side. The hot, chewy pancake is sensational when combined with the cold ice cream. Also popular are the sweet red bean fondue, where chewy rice cakes are dipped in a homemade red bean sauce, the 12-grain latte, and the pumpkin-sweet potato latte. W.e. can be found on Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil Street and in Samcheong-dong.
Jilsiru : A café offering traditional rice cakes
Jilsiru (질시루) is a rice cake café run by the Institute of Traditional Korean Food to showcase the outstanding qualities of Korean food. On display are Korean traditional dolls and bojagi wrapping cloths covered with beautiful embroidery. Available for purchase are rice cake products naturally colored with pumpkin, strawberry, coffee, and mugwort. Rice cake desserts available include rice cake sandwiches filled with vegetables and nuts, cakes made with rice flour, rice cake lunch boxes, and traditional drinks such as sujeonggwa, sikhye, and sweet pumpkin lattes. The café has two locations, one in Insa-dong and one in the Changdeokgung Palace area, which is the headquarters of the Institute. Those who drink a traditional tea at the Changdeokgung store can get free admission to the Tteok Museum on the second and third floors of the building.
Café Young: Traditional snacks and tea enjoyed in a hanok
Café Young (융) is easily noticeable thanks to its eye-catching exterior in Samcheong-dong. It is housed in a renovated, traditional hanok building and features fun wall paintings. The small flowers on the windowsill, the menu hanging on the main gate, and the small yard and trees blend harmoniously, making people feel like they are entering a friend’s home. The Korean-style homemade desserts and traditional teas complement the cozy space. Famous menu items are the sweet rice seed hotteok with filled with sunflower seeds and nuts. Snacks can be enjoyed while sipping a traditional tea such as sujeonggwa, sikhe, or citron tea.
* Prices are valid as of December 22, 2011 and are subject to change.