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Battle of the Tea Museums: Hong Kong vs Seoul

May 12, 2014 at 4:16 PM | by | Comments (0)


Above: Hong Kong's Flagstaff Museum of Tea Ware

Both Hong Kong and South Korea love their tea, although they have quite different styles; the Chinese prefer black teas like oolong, while Koreans love green and flower teas and Hong Kongers are known for their obsession with milk tea.

Though weíre not going to take a side on which tea we like the best, we did visit tea museums in both cities, and weíre ready to advise you on which oneís more worth a trip:

TOURIST ACCESSIBILITY:

Hong Kongís Flagstaff Museum of Tea Ware is located in Hong Kong Park, near the Victoria Peak tram terminus. Itís a central part of town labeled on almost any map and pretty easy to find.

Seoulís Beautiful Tea Museum, on the other hand, is located in one of the many small alleyways off of the Insadong-gil shopping-heavy pedestrian walkway. Itís not well-labeled, and many locals didnít even know that there was a tea museum in the neighborhood.

WINNER: Hong Kong

ADMISSION:

Both museums are free.

WINNER: Tie

HISTORY:

The Flagstaff Museum, which is small, still manages to pack in a lot of historical information about tea ware and tea ceremonies throughout history.

The Beautiful Tea Museum doesnít offer up much in the way of reading material Ė they have one small exhibit about tea history and culture as well as some carefully-chosen poetry.

WINNER: Hong Kong

ACTUAL TEA DRINKING:

Flagstaff is a museum about tea ware, which means youíll get to look at lots of beautiful pots and cups. But if you want to get an actual cup for yourself, youíll have to leave the building and head to a nearby tea house. Most visitors to Flagstaff didnít bother.

The Beautiful Tea Museum is a tea house and shop foremost. Their menu includes black, green, white, yellow, and flower teas, and English-speaking staff are happy to make recommendations. The tea descriptions also offer recommendations about what to take if you have various health concerns or conditions.

WINNER: Seoul

GIFT SHOP:

Flagstaff has a small but well-curated selection of tea and tea ware on offer, but thereís not a lot for the budget traveler.

The Beautiful Tea Museum has a wide range of teas (mostly loose-leaf) that come in small, white, easy-to-pack boxes. Thereís also English-language information about each blend and instructions about how to prepare each one.

WINNER: Seoul

OVERALL WINNER: It's a tie! If you care more about history, head to Hong Kong. But if you'd rather sample some teas, Seoul's your best bet.


Above: Seoul's Beautiful Tea Museum

[Photos: Kevin Poh & TomEats]

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