Hidden Hangouts: Ching Ching Cha

Peter Njoroge/Fourth Estate

Tea and serenity in the middle of bustling Georgetown


Step into Ching Ching Cha, a tiny tea shop in Georgetown, and enjoy a one-of-a-kind cultural experience.

The tearoom is located a few steps away from the popular M Street strip on Wisconsin Avenue in D.C. It can easily fly under the radar because it’s sandwiched between the other retail spaces and restaurants that Georgetown is known for. 

At the store, tea is approached like an art, and there is a visual accompaniment to most of the teas. All of the teas are served in unique vessels that help to compliment the particular tea chosen.

Each rosewood table at Ching Ching Cha is outfitted with a kettle in the center, provided to give access to fresh boiling water for patrons. Additionally, there is an elevated space for those who prefer an even more traditional experience (no shoes allowed).    

The menu is filled with expressive teas that aren’t always for the faint of heart. Some are intensely savory, some are flowery and some have an intense minerality.

All the teas are loose leaf and brewed right at your table. For the more adventurous, I’d recommend picking something from the pu-erh or oolong section of the menu. For those who prefer a safer option, something from the scented menu will be undoubtedly delicious and visually stunning.

While some of the teas can run up to $20 dollars, you can re-use and re-steep the leaves as many times as you’d like — unlike at Starbucks. Make sure that you have a chunk of time to get your money’s worth.

A friendly server can help you pick out the right tea and provide you with a short set of instructions for how to make the most out of your brew. It is a collaborative experience between server and customer.

It’s important to pay attention to get the most out of your leaves. Brew times can differ greatly between two different teas. If your tea brews too long, it will be bitter and you’ll want to start again. Also, caffeine content can be high in some teas and over-caffeination is a real risk.

The space is incredibly open and bright. Sunlight streams through the skylight, and the walls are decorated with a combination of exotic teas and brewing material that are available for purchase.

Ching Ching Cha also has a quaint menu of tasty bites to accompany their drinks, including dumplings, sweets and other traditional tea fare. 

The contrast between the shop and its surroundings is intense. The hectic nature of Georgetown streets and the serenity inside are both amplified as you enter and exit the store.

If you’re looking for to break out your laptop or hang out with 10 people, this may not be the place for you. Ching Ching Cha is an intimate space for quiet conversation, and one of the best ways to get away from it all.