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I am not just a tea connoisseur. I am an outright snob and have spent many days of my life in search of good tea, in both chic and shabby places.
I have never been to the Cha Hû-Thé teahouse in the suburbs of Brussels, but for one of the few times in my tea-snob life, I don’t have to sniff the tins of tea in order to recommend it. I’ve only tasted (and sniffed) one tea from there, the Thé du Loup, or literally “wolf’s tea,” and it was made neither with designer bottled water nor in a fancy teapot, but its nose and taste were wax heaven. It was in fact made with the overly mineral city water of Chartres, but it was a Cadillac of a tea, a Rolls Royce of fine-tuning, so it stood up to the test of not being treated with the TLC it deserves.
The main address doesn’t sound chic, although the amateur slide show flaunts oak shelving and cabinets adorned with serious-looking tins of tea and an array of brightly colored teapots for true aficionados. It even hints at shabbiness. The website is full of typos — which might normally put me off — but the names, blends and categories clearly demonstrate mastery of the trade. If you live anywhere near there, I recommend you hop on a train or bus or into your car first thing in the morning and delight in this almost certain kingdom of tea blends.