The Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse is a Boulder Landmark notorious for its historical, architectural, and environmental significance. After about ten years of community debate, preparation and construction, the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse was able to open to the public in 1998.
Dushanbe Teahouse is tucked away at the base of the foothills in Boulder. The teahouse was created as a gift to the city of Boulder from the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe in 1987. Forty different artisans from Tajikistan handmade the teahouse over a period of two years. After the two years it took to build, they took it right apart and then packed the pieces into 200 crates to be shipped to Boulder. The most surprising part? No power tools were used in the original construction of the tea house. The work was crafted by hand exactly as it was centuries ago.
Inside the Teahouse, there are 12 intricately carved cedar columns. These were sent from Tajikistan with the original gift. Each column is unique, as no two columns are alike. The bright, fun colored ceiling will probably be the first thing that catches your eye. It was carved and painted with intricate patterns of traditional Persian Art. The teahouse ceiling was originally built, carved and painted in Tajikistan. Again, absolutely no power tools were used in the original construction. The work was crafted by hand exactly as it was centuries ago.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse serves whats called an Elegant Afternoon Tea where they set up tables dressed up in English style white linens and tea time accoutrements. Afternoon tea is traditionally served from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm at a cost of $22 per person ($10.95 children under 9). Reservations are required 24 hours in advance because they bake the pastries fresh for you the morning of your tea session. While I was there, the table next to us was reserved for an Elegant Afternoon Tea session. It was interesting to see the process the staff took in preparing the table. I assumed it was a VIP group coming in for lunch because of how they kept going back for table touches. A grandmother, mother and two young ones came in and sat at the table for their tea. They appeared to be pretty standard Boulder Residents. I mean come on, where else would you find a three-year-old in a formal tea setting on a Tuesday afternoon? Ah yes, Boulder.
When you walk in you feel like you’re entering into a greenhouse café. There is a fountain in the entrance and greenery all throughout with trees spread out through the room. It has a very zen feel to it. The air is very clean and there’s just a lot to look at when you sit down between all of the bright colors and wall art. Most of the lighting used was natural as a huge sky light overwhelms the ceiling.
Naturally being the indecisive person I am, I had a bit of a struggle during my first Dushanbe Teahouse experience. I heard that they had a big tea selection but in fact, there are roughly 80 different teas. Make sure you know what kind of tea you would be interested in having whether it’s a green, black, oolong, or white tea. I narrowed down the type of tea I wanted and asked the waitress for her recommendations. You can never go wrong with just asking for a recommendation from the server because they get feedback on the reg from different customers. Each server is beyond knowledgeable about every aspect of teas you can possibly imagine.
The house recommended teas arrived in a classic tea set. The waitress brought over a simple hourglass timer and explained how I should take my infused tea basket out about half way through and my friend’s basket was good for one full hourglass session. Even after I took the basket out the waitress came by to check on me and reassured me that I waited the proper amount of time. The food looked delicious. It was priced in a mid range where each entrée fell between the $10-20’s. I dabbled with the humus plate (duh) and a spinach curry with flatbread. Both were AMAZING! The cuisine was pretty international with plenty of options for any dietary restrictions you can imagine, pretty much standard in Boulder.
I went in the winter and still had a great experience. However, I would have recommend going in the summer. I can only imagine how amazing the gardens leading up to the entrance with what looked like rose bushes would look like in full bloom. In the future I have definite plans of returning whether it’s for a random tea fix or a sunday brunch. (Note to self: check their bottomless mimosa status) This is not the kind of place you would go to like your typical coffee shop café. Don’t bother coming in to get things done as I don’t even think there is free WiFi. However, it is a great establishment to go in for a meeting with someone else or just bring a pen and paper. You will feel awkward with a laptop. In each corner of the room there were cool little tables with pillows as seats on a riser. You would think there would be a hookah sitting on the able the way it was set up. Instead, it would just be a neat spot to reserve for a chill tea session with a group of friends. All in all, the cool history associated with Dushanbe makes the quick trip out to Boulder well worth it!