Walking back to work through the frigid wind after my yearly physical, I noticed Franchia, a Korean cafe on my list of places to try. They specialize not only in vegan Korean cuisine, but also tout their tea menu. After discussing the state of my health, a vegan restaurant seemed a natural choice for lunch. Add in a tea menu and kimchi dumplings, and I'm ready to tuck in.
I've read a bit about Franchia and knew it was a tea-centric place. So before looking at the food menu, I perused the tea offerings. They have a small selection of green, white, black, and oolong teas, as well as flavored and tisanes. I decided to try a Korean green tea, since I'm not familiar with them. I'm not a huge fan of very light green teas, so I decided to try the 'Korean Wild Green Tea 3rd Picked', because it mentioned a stronger taste. I usually like second or third flushes when it comes to Darjeeling, so I was hoping it would be the same for green.
When I was ready to order I had to press a small button on the table to summon the waitstaff. It felt as if I was sitting on an airplane. I didn't see how this related to a serene tea-house, but I placed my order and eagerly waited. Perhaps they don't want to bother you unless you really need something? The tea arrived steeped in a small cup, with the leaves in a strainer on the side. A flask of hot water accompanied the cup. It was nice to get the flask, so I could re-steep the leaves when I was ready for more, instead of pushing the weird button to get the waiter to refill my cup.
The tea was quite mild, with a nice gentle vegetal flavor. But did not have the 'stronger taste' I was expecting. It could just be that I'm not familiar with Korean green teas. They may be on the lighter side, as Chinese green teas tend to be. But still, I was expecting a little more than a light green.
Since this is a tea focused blog I won't comment much on the food, but I will say the dumplings were a bit cold. The dining room is comfortable, with earth tones and lots of wood. The tables are situated on three tiers which makes it feel a little cozier, but I felt bad for the waiters that kept running up and down the stairs to get to diners on the various levels. The ceiling is quite pretty though, which gives a nice pop of color in the muted dining room.
It was comforting to escape the cold with a reviving cup of green tea. I don't think I'll rush back here, but if you are looking for a place on the east side that offers healthy vegan fare and a descent tea selection, Franchia is a good choice.