Moon Bird Only Thinks of the Moon
Little wooden doorways that open up into dark cinnamon and ginger scent filled tea houses are scattered around Insa-dong, but it can take a trained eye to spot the good ones. There are bigger, brighter and busier cafes that sit on the main Insa-dong drag, but if you want the intimate experience you have to head down the small alleys and keep your eyes peeled. These little doorways that slide open can seem uninviting when closed and it’s easy to pass by assuming the establishment inside is not open for business. Once the door is slid open and the scent of delicious teas and rice cakes comes wafting into the street however, it’s clear they are not only open but worth a lengthy visit.
One such tea house that is hidden away down a back alley is Moon Bird Only Thinks of the Moon, 달새는달만생각한다. The name is a mouthful, but the tea is delicious and the hanok house cluttered with quirky decor and scribbled walls allows the eye to comfortably wander during the silent pauses in conversation. Old black and white photographs, oil lamps, saucers, gardening tools and newspaper clippings are hung nonchalantly everywhere while previous guests handwritten love declarations and messages are scribbled on every part of the walls and windows.
The tea is served in huge tea cups and is accompanied by rice cakes and other traditional snacks to munch on. The menu is written in Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese to cater to the patrons that wander in off the street and the waitresses are always within earshot and calmly and patiently ready to assist guests with any questions regarding the tea. The tables are placed surrounded by walls for the most part so as the feeling is overwhelmingly cozy and private conversations can easily be had between friends or couples. The tea cups are served on wooden saucers which means there is no loud clanking when the cups are returned to their place after a sip which goes further in keeping the intimate and serene ambiance of the tea house. Moon Bird Only Thinks of the Moon is hidden away, but if you have the time to seek it out, it’s worth a gander along with a delicious cup of tea.
60 Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 관훈동 60
Directions: Anguk Subway Station, exit 6. Walk straight to the main Insa-dong street and turn left. Turn left down the fourth small alley, though you’ll probably be well onto the street without realizing you’ve passed the first one so it’ll seem as though it’s the third alley. If you come to the Ssamzie Space on your left you’ve gone too far, turn at the alley just before you get to Ssamzie.
Hours: 10:00AM – 11:00PM
Cost: Teas cost W6,500 – W9,000 and small snacks are provided with the tea.