As you’re passing through LA’s Koreatown on Wilshire it’s really easy to whiz by Hwa Sun Ji and not even have realized it. Behind this humble and unassuming storefront is a tea shop that is unique and thoughtful, with a tranquility rarely found in a such a busy city.
Upon stepping into the shop one of the first things you will notice are the raised platforms where friends can sit on colorful pillows and chat over a hot cup of perfectly brewed tea. Each of the tables in this tea shop are carefully placed, and separated with straw dividers to offer a bit of extra privacy and peace. There is no loud music here, just some traditional Korean tunes playing in the background and the sound of water flowing from a stone fountain in the back of the room.
Don’t come here expecting to have a full meal like you would at and English tea shop for afternoon tea. At Hwa Sun Ji, the highlight really is the tea itself. There is a very long list of teas to choose from, from more traditional favorites like oxidized teas (Balhyocha) and artisan green teas (Jaksulcha) to fruit and grain-based teas specific to Korean tea culture.
There is also a strong focus on the health and healing properties of tea here. The menu gives a short suggestion of each tea’s potential health effects. Some of the stand-outs are Sa-Rang Tang (aka Lover’s Tea), Pong Yip Cha (Mulberry Tea), and Gam Yip Cha (Persimmon Leaf Tea), which is loaded with Vitamin C. My choice was the Deh Choo Cha, or Jujube Tea, a lightly sweet red date-based tea which came highly recommended.
To go along with my tea, I ordered a plate of Korean tea snacks, which were brought to my table beautifully presented on a heavy wooden tray. What’s great about Korean tea and tea snacks is that there is an emphasis on natural flavors and textures–nothing is too sugary, overdone, or complicated.
Hwa Sun Ji is a tea shop unlike all other tea shops. What makes Hwa Sun Ji special is that there isn’t just an emphasis on tea as a drink, but an equally significant emphasis on the culture of tea, including health, meditation, and of course, manners! This tea shop embodies all the best virtues of Eastern tea culture. You’ll leave feeling focused, centered, and refreshed…just as you should after a good cup of thoughtfully made tea!
Want to have a Korean tea break at home? Persimmon Leaf Tea (which I purchased at Hwa Sun Ji and can be also purchased online) and Hachiya Persimmon Tea-Bread are a simple and satisfying pairing for a late autumn tea snack!