Reaching Out Tea House, 131 Tran Phu, Hoi An
This tea house in the heart of Hoi An describes itself as a ‘fair trade social business that empowers persons with disability through open employment‘. I would describe it as a little oasis of tranquillity and goodness. I’m not sure that I can do it justice in a few paragraphs but I’ll try.
They serve gourmet teas and home-made treats and cookies. The teas are exquisitely presented on their own range of ceramics from their craft store, and with such a sense of ritual and ceremony, that I drank mindfully as I really wanted to slow down and savour the moment, not to mention the tea itself which was excellent. Normally, I have to remind myself to be mindful when I eat or drink but it was the most natural and instinctive way to experience this moment. The decor was also very beautiful and ornate.
The hearing-impaired staff are trained to a high standard in customer service and their communication skills are excellent. I can’t sign, yet I understood the waitresses when they communicated to me – where there’s a will there’s a way. On each table, you’ll find little blocks with key words like ‘hot water’ or ‘thank you’ printed on them. While customers can freely chat to each other, the noiseless activity of the staff creates an air of calm and serenity that I have to describe as zen-like (sorry about the cliche, but it just is zen-like and there’s no getting away from it).
During my short time in Asia, I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed by my relative wealth as a westerner – it’s hard to ignore that fact that your main course for dinner probably costs more than the average daily wage – so it was lovely to have a really nice experience that was also ethically sound. If you find yourself in Hoi An, don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy some guilt-free bliss.