Chloris Tea Garden in Sinchon is a place you remember, even if you’ve never been there before. It’s filled with memories that seem like your own, even if the frames hold portraits of strangers. Chloris is an iconic English tearoom—antique velvet couches, dainty porcelain cups and saucers, doilies, floral wallpaper—but no matter how tenuous your connection to English culture, the feeling of nostalgia is immediate and palpable. It’s hard not to say things like: “This place reminds me of my grandmother’s house.” “This place reminds me of a Jane Austen novel.” “This place reminds me of a tea party I once had.” You probably would never say, “This place reminds me of Seoul,” because it’s absolutely un-Seoul. Anyone familiar with the dominant cafe culture here can tell in a single glance that Chloris is far from the trendy Polaroid-plastered, DIY, kitschy-cute design scene.
Chloris Tea Garden transports visitors to another place and time completely—to a space of easy elegance and refined comfort, inspired by the classic English tearoom. There’s something about this kind of environment that stirs up a bit of wistfulness in all of us.
While Chloris is easily all these things—nostalgic, wistful, classic, archetypal—it isn’t a boring cliché or tacky attempt at sophistication. Something about Chloris rings true. Perhaps it’s their emphasis on what really matters in a teahouse: the tea. Although the decor is an essential part of the experience, it’s not what Chloris is all about. They have an impressive menu of black, herbal, and green teas from around the world, including special blends with charming names like “Je T’aime,” “Winter Angel,” and “Serendipitea.”
Try the “Chloris Garden” herbal blend, a nod to the tearoom’s mythological namesake. Chloris, a pale green springtime Nymph, would probably have enjoyed this delicate mix of chamomile, lemongrass, citrus, and mint. Drinking this tea is supposed to fill your heart with “pure intentions” so you can feel as light and joyful as a garden spirit. This brew needs a few minutes of steeping to enhance the subtle flavors, so the server will bring a tiny hourglass with it. Make sure it’s finished emptying before pouring the tea. (And be sure to open the teapot and have a peek inside—the colorful herbs float inside like an aquatic bouquet.)
For those who enjoy their tea a little fruitier, the Swedish Soderblandning tea, from the Tea Center of Stockholm, is not to be missed. It’s sweet and rich, with tasty bits of orange that may find their way into your cup. And for those who like it spicy, the popular iced milk chai is the perfect blend of sugar and spice and all things nice (it’s this writer’s hands-down personal favorite).
Chloris Tea Garden is not to be confused with its sisters, Cafe Chloris and the Tea Caddy, housed on the same block and owned by the same tea enthusiast. Stroll over to Cafe Chloris later in the afternoon (beware: they don’t open until two o’clock!) if the chocolate cake and biscotti at the Tea Garden don’t fill you up.