What a delight to have the chance to visit one of the oldest teahouses in Europe, A.C. Perch’s Thehandel in the Christianhavn neighborhood of Copenhagen today. Named after his son, Niels Brock Perch opened his store back in 1835, and according to their brochure, not much, other than the lightening and staff, have changed since then. Perch owned the shop until until it was purchased by the Hincheldey family in 1894. However, the shop has remained in their family. I have no picture of inside this small and adorable space, since each time I walked in, the place was packed with people buying loose leaf tea. You will just have to go and see for yourself.
Upstairs from the street level you will find the recently added tea room, opened in 2006, where you can purchase a pot of tea from their generous collection, along with food items standard in traditional tea service - scones, cakes, petite four, cheeses, tea sandwiches, and the like, and I did not find much on the menu in the way of gluten and dairy free options. Still, the atmosphere here was warm and inviting, and much less formal than Mariage Freres in Paris. Here the staff was so welcoming and friendly, pleasantly answering all my numerous questions.
The selection of black (red) teas is generous, with teas harvested from Africa, China, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. On the green tea front, the choices come from places from India, Korea, Taiwan, Tanzania, with the most harvested in China and Japan, naturally. Since two matchas were on the menu, one ceremonial and the other a lesser grade, I had to see how their preparation and presentation style. My server mentioned that matcha is not a commonly ordered but is increasing of late. When the matcha arrived it was in a lovely bowl, although not one of the classic and beautiful chawan they had for sale. The bowl was filled to the top, suggesting too much water had been added. The color was a lovely vibrant green, the aroma was fresh and grassy, and the water temperature was perfect, not too hot to burn the tea. The tea was too watered down, even for usucha, and I could not detect any hint of umami flavor at all. Luckily there was no bitterness. With less water I imagine this would have been a good bowl of matcha.
I then moved on to ordered a pot of their organic gyokuro, and I was not disappointed. It has a great rich and full bodied taste. Yes this green tea was wonderful even though served in a regular teapot (yes I recognize this is a European teahouse, not a Japanese or Chinese one, so I can appreciate their method of serving tea).
If I lived here, I would definitely frequent this establishment to meet with friends to spend a cozy afternoon chatting about life over an exquisite pot of tea. When in Copenhagen, give yourself a treat and take an hour or two to visit AC Perch’s Thehandel for afternoon tea. You won’t be disappointed.