While Barcelona was celebrating the Mercè Festival, 1 hour away Calella was celebrating their 36th annual Artisan’s Fair. The local town government invited Caj Chai to set up a tea and teaware stand and represent Prague, Czech Republic. Some of you might not be familiar with our history and be surprised… Prague? Aren’t you a Barcelona tea house? Yes… so why exactly did we travel from El Call to Calella?
The explanation lies in our roots. Čaj Chai Teahouse Barcelona was inspired by the Bohemian teahouses that I used to frequent back when I lived in Prague in the 90s. See, shortly after the Velvet Revolution, Czechs were finally allowed to travel outside the confines of the USSR. Soon tea lovers began importing tea and opening marvelous tearooms with a focus on orthodox, pure teas and cozy ambiance. The tea scene caught on big and more and more teahouses began sprouting up all over the country. Today there may be a hundred just in Prague, although just a handful that I might actually recommend.
I fell in love with tea in Prague. I fell in love with Prague. Period. When I moved back to Spain in 2002 I missed Prague’s streets and culture… but especially my favorite tearooms. The places where I first learned about the different varieties, the different teaware, the teahouses that enchanted me with their inviting atmosphere of solemn discovery. Quiet tea spaces for introspection, heart space with friends or sincere discussions where you really connected with your company. Places that welcomed you and you were always excited to return and try something new, accept a recommendation and know you were being taken care of and about to discover or rediscover a fantastic tea and travel in time and place only to return more grounded.
At that time, Barcelona had a few places that served tea, but none of them came close to my expectations. In 2003 the tea drinker in me decided to begin looking for a place to create what I was longing for and in 2004 I opened our teahouse. I chose the name Čaj Chai. Čaj is Czech for “tea” and is pronounced /Chai/. A variation of the original word for tea “Cha”. So in fact, our name is Tea Tea, just with 2 different spellings and now that Chai the beverage is so popular, I guess you could say with 2 different connotations.
12 years later we were invited to represent Prague in Calella and I gladly accepted. We set up a wonderful stand serving a wide range of tea, iced tea and chai and an amazing selection of artisan teaware made by 5 different Czech artists! We also gave a nice workshop explaining how to prepare tea and how to use the different teapots and tea utensils. We brought a selection of traditional Czech cookies made with a twist… we added matcha green tea. You can try them at our Barcelona teahouse! Over the 4 days we were in Calella, we were interviewed on the radio and television a couple of times. Soon I’ll upload two short videos you can check out.
I was asked many times how I would explain a Czech tearoom and I always replied the same thing… I can describe you the kind of tearoom that first inspired me… a tearoom where the tea is the focus. High quality artisan tea from all over the world. Tea prepared as best as can be. The spirit of tea is present. A Bohemian tearoom is not a Chinese tearoom, or a Japanese tearoom. It is a World Tearoom where tea is the protagonist, not any one particular tea culture… we embrace all tea culture! The tea tree doesn’t know a thing about nations. It was born in a place that today is China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand but once was just mountains, jungle and forest. Tea is a sacred plant that spread with Buddism and everywhere it has travelled it has brought something with it that has transformed in regional rituals and something permanent, constant that transcends, remains… tea connects us with ourselves, with others and with nature!