Formosa Tea House Gets Bigger

I’ve written in this space before about the Formosa Tea House (2001, 2002).

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.


Rob Fletcher's picture
Rob Fletcher on March 9, 2003 - 05:04 Permalink

I was in town about a week or so ago, and I always make a point of a bamboo rice, lemonade, beanbun and sushi with a friend there. I was amazed by the new room, it still smelled of sawdust, and when I asked when it was added he said something like “5 days ago”. Perfect timing.

I always leave that place thinking “I could totally be a vegetarian”.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on March 9, 2003 - 05:59 Permalink

Thanks to one of your previous recommendations the Formosa has become a regular for we silveroranges.

Justin's picture
Justin on March 9, 2003 - 16:00 Permalink

I was a bit confused mentally walking through your directions: I’d remembered CFCY sitting next to City Hall on Kent. After a bit of noggin scratchin’ I remembered they moved to “The Financial Building.” My mind’s eye walked past The Bike Shop (Comic Hunter?) and tried to enter The Harley Club where I promptly got turned back at the door. Grr, even in my fantasy I still can’t get in there. Waitaminnit, I’m almost to Euston. I’m walking back now, I musta passed the whole block without blinking. It’s in my blindspot, I guess. BTW, ain’t it Elm Avenue from the Cenotaph out? or does G.G. St. end at Euston? help.

Alan's picture
Alan on March 9, 2003 - 16:37 Permalink

Steve’s right, Peter. After buying bagels like a Rukavina-autobot yesterday on top of Tea Housing and even the Taj, I feel this is getting all one-sided gastronomically. Isn’t it time you gave the old hot madras at the H+T another go?

Will's picture
Will on March 10, 2003 - 01:55 Permalink

I would love to go to Formosa but, like so many PEI businesses, their hours tend to work more in the sense of making it home for Compass than having a sucessful business. The entire time each week that their doors are open I am stuck at university or work.

Did I mention I’m bitter?