Tearoom Review: Bílý jeřáb

A breath of fresh air

Helen Ford

Written by Helen Ford Published on 14.06.2012 11:34:26 (updated on 14.06.2012) Reading time: 3 minutes


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Drinking oriental teas usually feels so cleansing and energising, which is why I sometimes become frustrated when I visit dingy little čajovny with poor lighting, dust settling on  the oversized floor cushions, and greasy-haired teenagers sucking on hookah pipes. Oriental tea drinking has such a precise, intricate, and dignified history that it seems to me that this should come across in the drinker’s experience, wherever in the world they may be.

Walking into Bílý jeřáb (White Crane), which opened in Prague 5 in 2004, was a breath of fresh air. Relatively modern in terms of design, with full-height windows, an open kitchen, spotless tiled floors, and bright white walls, this would almost be too sterile if it wasn’t softened with peaceful music, bamboo plants and helpful but unobtrusive staff.  The čajovna is larger than it first appears, with a relaxing back room on a slightly raised level.

A lengthy tea menu features over a hundred varieties of mainly Japanese and Chinese teas as well as Korean and Taiwanese. Other drinks such as South American maté, lassi, and (surprisingly) some wines are available, but the focus at Bílý jeřáb falls heavily on the tea.  The owner told me he knows around 80% of the growers personally, and imports directly from them, to ‘keep the quality from disappearing’. A true labour of love, and an attention to detail and quality that is impressive.

Every tea I had here – and I tried several – was served flawlessly and tasted high quality. In particular, the Oolong tea on my first visit (Qing Ziang Song Zheng – 130 CZK with multiple infusions) made me smile and close my eyes to savour the delicately floral taste, with a subtle sweet aftertaste.

The option to do a ‘tea comparison’ (like a wine tasting but without the hangover) is a great way to try new teas without committing to a whole pot. Staff generally seemed happy to make recommendations if pushed, although I would have appreciated a little more guidance for the tea comparison.

The food menu was a revelation. I scour Prague for healthy eating options, and Bílý jeřáb’s offerings of teriyaki stir fry (145 CZK), dim sum (145 CZK), kake soba (135 CZK) and edamame (60 CZK), to name but a few, had me salivating. The menu is exclusively vegetarian, presented beautifully, and packs a serious flavour punch. My tofu teriyaki included perfect al dente vegetables, water chestnuts, a sweet but salty sauce and perfectly cooked sticky rice. Dim Sum was served in a bamboo steamer, with the tiny buns displayed on a banana leaf.  

My only criticism is the repeated appearance of crunchy green beans that seemed to have no place in the otherwise good miso soup (45 CZK) or kake soba, but this is small complaint: I cannot wait to eat here again, if only to try the Earl Grey crème brulee (88 CZK) and several more teas.

This is an excellent čajovna and a great example of how independent businesses can become successful – the focus on the quality of their product, presentation and customer service leaves Bílý jeřáb well ahead of most of its competitors.

Štefánikova 51
150 00 Praha 5

Tearoom Review: Bílý jeřáb

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Helen Ford is a creator of CzechingIn, a blog about an English lady in Prague. She now writes for Expats.cz on topics such as theatre, art, and recently also café and tea rooms in Prague.

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