Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge Offers a Global Experience
Phoenix is bursting of trendy restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that cater to the masses; and now tea lovers have a place of their own too! About a month ago, after years with the Teavana Company, and 15+ years of passion for the product, Ashley Hoekstra opened Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge. The place is cozy and comfortable, and Ashley aims to make everyone feel both welcome and informed.
Ashley’s goal in bringing this concept to the Valley is a simple one. “I want to bring tea to Phoenix, [and] I want to get a lot of different people in here to see what tea really is like around the world.”
We got to experience that first hand when we sampled Cha Cha’s most popular drink, the Fresh Moroccan Mint Tea ($3.50), prepared in the traditional Moroccan manner. To create the delicious concoction, Ashley begins by putting fresh, locally grown spearmint leaves into a carafe with a good amount of sugar, followed by loose leaf Chinese gunpowder green tea; then the mixture is steeped in hot water and strained. With the amount of sugar added, I was expecting an overly-sweet mint flavor, but instead, the drink was calming and mild, only slightly sweet, and incredibly smooth. We had our tea iced, but of course, it is served hot as well. Either way, I would recommend this drink to anyone!
Next, Ashley treated us to one of her house specialties—a Chinese tea ceremony called Gongfu ($7). This ceremony uses a gaiwan lidded bowl to steep and serve fresh, loose leaf tea for one to three people. The service is prepared in small batches and served in miniature cups in order to ensure a perfectly warm cup of tea every time. According to Ashley, this allows guests to “Slow down and really enjoy the flavors.” For our ceremony, Ashley chose a Rose Yin Hao green tea; the blending of the aromatic rose buds with the young Chinese green tips was absolutely delicious.
Cha Cha’s tea is also available for purchase on their website, and can be found at various markets around the valley. This summer, Ashley is excited to be launching a new line of ‘summer teas’, as well as take-home half-gallon iced teas in 10 different flavors ($8).
Cha Cha’s (cha cha means tea in many countries, btw) is truly a one of a kind find in Phoenix. The homey atmosphere and opportunity for cultural knowledge is a delicious blend. Cha Cha’s Tea Lounge is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday-Sunday.
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