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Drinking to Health 

Gaiwan Tea House takes tea to the next level

click to enlarge Gaiwan Tea House in Coeur d'Alene features 70 different teas.
  • Gaiwan Tea House in Coeur d'Alene features 70 different teas.

It's not a misspelling or mispronunciation when Matt and Snowy Kaufmann pronounce it la-TEA, instead of latte. And their Gaiwan Tea House might have you rethinking your morning routine of drive-through java jitters, with their tea house intended to nourish mind, body and spirit.

Try spicy chai ($4) in a glazed earthenware mug or hearty matcha, a healthful drink of ground green tea leaves rich in antioxidants ($3.75-$4). The London Fog is Earl Grey tea with steamed milk and vanilla ($3.75), or try their tea of the day in a 12-ounce cup ($3) or 20-ounce pot ($20).

Located in a restored turn-of-the-century house, Gaiwan is a place to, as the Kaufmanns say, reflect, relax and reconnect. Partitioned seating areas, such as the tearoom with floor cushions and low tables, promote privacy. Abundant windows offer a view to a quiet yard. And while background music plays, there's no Wi-Fi; just room to breathe, says Snowy, whose tea research has been copious.

Gaiwan has more than 70 teas available, each with its own history. There's earthy pu-erh tea, a uniquely fermented tea dating to imperialist China, touted for its ability to lower cholesterol. Rooibos tea, which hails from South Africa, is caffeine-free but high in anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Blooming or flowering teas are actually stitched-together tea leaves that release their fragrance upon steeping in a specially designed teapot.

Sweetwater Bakery provides an assortment of baked goods, while a local chocolatier is working with Gaiwan to infuse their teas into decadent treats.

In addition to teas, Gaiwan has various vessels for brewing and drinking tea, all of them carefully sourced. One example is the gaiwan, for which the tea house is named. Consisting of a lidded bowl and saucer, it allows one to brew and drink from the same container.

Don't throw out your coffeemaking materials, though; Gaiwan's loose teas are perfect for use in your French press coffeemaker. ♦

Gaiwan Tea House • 901 N. 4th St., Coeur d'Alene • Open Mon-Sat, 10 am-6 pm • • 208-755-5385

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