Think sounding out the name is hard? Try picking out a tea. TeaGschwender manages to raise teatime to an intellectual activity: Everywhere you look in the small, tranquil shop you'll find tea with lofty-sounding properties and impossible-to-pronounce names. Selecting your perfect brew means sifting through leaves of Ayurveda, Rooibush, Mate and SchwuppTeaWupp (turns out the latter just is an instant tea with a sweet, creamy flavor. But saying it in German is just too much fun.)
Luckily the staff is like a bunch of tea librarians; they're chock-full of knowledge and always on hand to provide lessons on the leaves. Be a good student and bring a pencil to jot down some notes. The Book of Tea (offered to each guest for free) has a section for you to record your thoughts at the back of its 100-plus pages. The book describes, in delicious-sounding and poetic detail, the flavor of each tea. When you've made your selection, look for a range of tea-related products to complement your cuppa.
TeaGschwender offers teapots of glass and porcelain as well as teapot warmers, tea warming candles and candy sugar. For an on-the-go treat (there's no seating), try the $3.50 teapuccinno, a sweet, spicy alternative to your Starbucks standby.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Jennifer Berg