“In our tearoom we don’t offer sugar. There are only three teas that have sugar as an ingredient along with milk. It took some discussions with few clients to understand this idea. Here you’ll be isolated with no wifi. We want people to come to relax. That is the concept of our tearoom,” mentions Jing Jing. She and Ambròs met at Shanghai airport. He is an engineer and was returning from one of his many business trips to China. Jing Jing was on her way to Spain for her Master´s degree and ended up settling down here. They opened Tetere to bring Chinese culture to Barcelona through their tea. It’s been almost 10 years since they opened their first shop in Gracia. They moved to another location and they expanded the business with a tearoom where they perform the art of the tea ceremony. We visited them to talk about their project.
Why did you decide to open a specialized teashop?
JJ: We started Tetere because we wanted to bring Chinese culture closer through tea. Although there are many Chinese restaurants in Barcelona people don’t know our culture. We also realized that no one was offering pure tea. Everyone was offering blends and flavored teas. We loved the product and even more so, we loved showing people that there is a philosophy behind a cup of tea and its preparation. Even young people China have lost these traditions and we are trying to maintain them.
How was the public’s reaction when you first opened your shop in 2005? Did people understand your concept?
A: The beginning was difficult. We had a firm vision but we struggled to explain it and have people understand it. I remember the first week many people came asking if we were selling piña colada tea. Obviously we started thinking that if we sold piña colada tea, we would sell more. But if you change your vision, then no one will understand your concept. We’ve stuck to our principles from the fist day and I think this is one of our strengths. Being true to your ideas is key for any specialized business.
How do you choose a particular tea for your shop?
A: We have an ABC that never changes and the rest are rotating teas. Tea is like wine. Every year a tea can be better or worse than the previous year, but generally it’s never the same. We build our menu based on our experience. We have four references of flavored teas and about one hundred thirty pure teas.
“More and more people are learning of our teas and realize that there are alternatives to teabags.”
Why did you decide to open a tearoom after the shop?
JJ: Tea preparation is key to enjoying a good cup. It is exactly like coffee. You can have a very good product and ruin it with the wrong preparation. Our tearoom serves as our showroom to teach people how to properly make tea. Besides, the tearoom allows us offering the full experience in a cozy space where people can enjoy tea and have a break.
What kind of customer visits your tearoom?
JJ: Even though it is a small tearoom we still get lots of different people. In general, people come to relax since it is a very calm environment. We don’t offer alcoholic beverages, soft drinks or sugar. When we get new customers we explain everything to them so that they understand we are not a conventional bar.
In your tearoom you have a special room devoted to the tea ceremony. What do you seek in a tea ceremony?
A: The idea of the tea ceremony is taking the tea you are preparing to a superior level. Not just spiritual but also with the flavors. Showcasing the tea’s virtues and hiding its defects is something that we pursue in the ceremony. That’s why we try to use the utensils that will work best for each tea.
What is the most important thing you need to perform a tea ceremony?
JJ: Harmony is very important. That’s why I change the decoration for every ceremony. Not just for the people but for myself. On the other side, it is essential to be familiar with the tea you are preparing. I would never perform a tea ceremony with a tea I haven’t prepared before.
Do you think people currently appreciate more quality products like yours?
A: More and more people are learning of our teas and realize that there are alternatives to teabags. They learn they can actually prepare a very good tea at home with no need of performing a tea ceremony. The only requirements are a teapot, a quality product and good quality water.
What do you enjoy the most from your day?
A: I really enjoy sharing experiences with the people that come to our store. We learn from each other. On the other side, I love when we get new teas. For me, it’s like getting a new toy!
What have you learned from this project?
A: Tetere has helped me develop my spiritual side. I am an engineer and I am very rational. I think tea has allowed me develop a more mystical and less scientific side.
JJ: When you have a business you realize you are able to do many more things than the ones you have ever imagined, and that is very rewarding. The most important thing I’ve learned is the importance of inner peace. I am a very nervous person. Sometimes a client comes in and he is nervous and I need to transmit peace to him. It was hard at the beginning but I’ve learned how to manage it.
Carrer Saragossa, 113, 08006 Barcelona