Photo by Sigrid Malmgren
Deep in the Plattenbau-land of Berlin’s ‘Far East’, Gärten der Welt sends you on a little tour to Bali, Korea and Japan (for a €3 entrance fee), but the park’s fairest flower is the Chinese Garden.
Built in 1997 to celebrate the friendship between Berlin and Beijing, the garden covers 2.7 hectares filled with exquisite neo-Ming architecture, exotic flowers and live fish.
Surrounded by a small lake with floating water lilies and surfing ducks stands the beautiful, dark red pagoda which houses Berlin’s one and only Chinese tearoom. A charming raised footpath leads you onto a patio overlooking the water, where on summer days, tea is served by waitresses dolled up Chinese-style.
‘Berghaus zum Osmanthussaft’, as it was baptised, offers the disoriented visitor an impressive tea selection. There are over 40 different sorts: green, black, white and flower teas, the subtleties of which might be foreign to many Westerners but hopefully won’t be lost to their pallets.
Try the chrysanthemum tea with raisins, jujube and wolfberry (€3.50). Slightly sweet, it’s drunk from the gap between the cup and a little plate on top (also used to scrape away the drowned flowers and raisins).
Another specialty: the flowering teas, those small bundles of tea leaves and chrysanthemum or jasmine, which, once steeped, bloom like flowers in your cup (€4).
No teabags here – only selected leaves, served in the appropriate pot to perfect temperature.
A few snacks to soak up the fluids, like the silver-paper-wrapped taro cakes (€2/5), a crunchy, salty treat with peanuts and sesame seeds, or steamed minced meat dumplings (€3.20).
Gather at least six people (call ahead for an appointment) for a traditional Chinese tea party (€8). Or just spend hours by the lake gazing at the water lilies – blissful serenity.