Dilmah has opened a charming tea lounge in the shadow of Dutch Hospital. They're not fully operational yet (no liquor license for the tea cocktails) but serve a range of hot and cold teas and bites.
Despite being a tea-addicted country, Sri Lanka has very few tea bars. Tea is for the home or office, while coffee still dominates for going out. There is the Heladiv Tea Club in the Dutch Hospital itself, but we still welcome Dilmah's venture in the new Fertiliser Building out back. For one thing, they have interesting tea cocktails (liquor license pending). They also have a range of bites and drinks and no competition from coffee houses in the Dutch Hospital area (excluding the World Trade Center). Plus Dilmah has generally intelligent design and thoughtful blends of tea.
We tried one hot and one cold tea - the Silver Tips White Tea (Rs. 390) and the Prince Of Kandy Lemonade Tea (Rs. 270). Of course, we were most excited about the tea cocktails but liquor license is still pending. We also didn't try the food (crepes, sandwiches, etc), so consider this a preview.
The teas are all good. White tea is a new experience for me at least and it's quite nice, as tea goes. Everything is served elegantly, cubes of sugar, etc. Still, they do need to up the oomph to compete with coffee, and it looks like they have an ambitious menu which is trying. On that note, they also have the best menu we've seen in Sri Lanka, besides perhaps the Manhattan Fish Market
. Really thick stock (board really) and bound and laid out like a book.
The location is the thing. The Fertiliser Building is really cool, a welcome addition to the breath of fresh air that was Dutch Hospital. It's beautifully refurbished white colonial architecture. The t-Lounge hasn't messed with the basic structure too much, it's just high shelving and a bar with arching tea boxes filed above. The seating is comfortable coffee house style for about 30 inside.
The highlight is their outdoor seating, which has a stunning view of the World Trade Center and the Dutch Hospital below. And a lonely but handsome tree.
It's still soft opening days and the service is excellent. Waiters are mostly girls and they seem well trained and helpful.
Whether tea bars can compete with coffee shops is an open question, but we do like the new t-Lounge very much. There's a range of teas to explore, a thoughtful menu and the location is fantastic. Well worth a look.