And now they’ve gotten bigger.
Fueled by space abandoned by The Reading Well after its flight east to Water Street, the Formosa Tea House on University Avenue has busted through the back wall and opened up a very nice, bright space with five additional tables.
I’m constantly amazed by the blind spot my contemporaries have for that stretch of University Avenue between Kent and FItzroy that the Formosa Tea House calls home. It is, admitedly, not the prettiest part of our city. But in the decade we’ve been here it has gotten much better. Somehow decades of neglect means that many Islanders appear to simply look straight ahead when driving up University, and so when I try to describe to them where the Tea House is, they get a deep and profound blank look on their faces.
So here is a detailed set of directions: go to the corner of Kent and University (translation to diehard Islanders: “go to the corner of Kent and Great George”). Stand in front of where Sam the Record Man and CFCY used to be. Walk out University towards the outskirts of town. You will pass Comic Hunter, an antique shop, Fergie’s Barbershop, the Taj Mahal restaurant and the space formerly occupied by The Reading Well. Stop. You are now at the entrance to the Formosa Tea House. There is a small porch with pine trim and astroturf carpeting at the entrance.
The hours of operation are 11:00 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Saturday. Go earlier in the day rather than later, as they are a small operation, and tend to run out of many things after two or three in the afternoon. You do not need a lot of money (I rarely spend more than four dollars for a tea and snacks). You do not need to know anything about tea. There is no chanting (unless you want to chant). You can even order a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate.
My personal favourites are Lemon Iced Tea, the spicy stuffed buns, and the bamboo rice. They have good fresh-squeezed orange juice. And, of course, tea.
The owners are very nice. You can bring children. If you go alone, they have a nice selection of books, newspapers and magazines to read, located right beside the front door. You will never feel pressured to leave.
I await reports from the tea-virgin readership.