I love going to tea rooms. There’s nothing like sitting down and enjoying an afternoon of tea among friends. I usually go to British-style spots, but I recently discovered a tea room that was a little different from the ones I usually frequent — Goldfish Tea in Royal Oak, Mich.
This tearoom, unlike the spots I’ve visited in the past, has an Asian feel. It’s very laid-back, and has many all-natural, healthy teas available for sampling. And the two times I visited initially, I found myself losing track of time as the hours flew by, while I enjoyed pure, healthy teas in a zen atmosphere. After my last visit, I reached out to feature the shop on my blog, and the staff suggested I go in for a tea tasting, which I attended last month.
This was my first tea tasting, and I invited Mike, Julianne and Damien (pictured above) with me for the experience. Co-owner Janice Girling shared a lot of knowledge about Goldfish Tea, which she and her husband opened in 2008 after falling in love with tea during an extended work period in China.
It was an interesting time for tea, and after spending time tasting and planning, the couple got their shop up and running.
“The tea market was just getting started,” Janice said. “We were living in Beijing working for Chrysler — so the day we wandered into the little tea market, we were just having fun. We like to do the local thing. We like to see as much as we can of how the locals live — where they shop, what they do. We had gotten into bartering. What drew us into the tea shop in the first place was that I saw this beautiful red and golden dragon tea set, having joking around about how much we could get it for.”
That teapot bartering experience started the fun for them and their love for tea quickly grew. When it was time to come back to the United States, they decided to take their passion further and opened the tea house.
The business started small, but word of mouth helped bring in customers. For those new to tea or interested in learning more, Janice recommended tea tastings, which educate the mind and senses.
During our tasting, shared descriptions of Goldfish Tea’s tea menu, which is broken down into traditional sections of Green, Black, White, Pu’er, Oolong, Jasmine and Herbal. After going taking in the aromas of all of Goldfish’s offerings, we tried three teas during our tasting.
In the green department, we sampled the “Dragon Well,” which was light, but also vegetal. We enjoyed three rounds and compared the strength following each steep. For black we sampled the “Golden Eyebrow,” which had a slightly smoky taste and got lighter as we sipped. And our oolong of choice was the “Milk Oolong,” a smooth and buttery drink — a tea Janice said is a customer favorite, that quickly became a favorite of mine.
The cultural experience of this tearoom goes beyond the beverage, however. Upon entering the establishment, you’re taken away to a different place. Everything from the furniture, — daybeds, couches, tables and chairs — to the linens and decorations on the walls and ceiling, has been hand-picked by the co-owners and all originated in China.
Regardless of your knowledge of tea, Goldfish is a must-visit destination in Royal Oak. New-comers to the tea world can gain knowledge about beverage, and avid drinkers can explore new leaves, and enjoy a relaxing and healthful tea adventure.