The third and final installment of the Glasgow Specials brings us to another very loose take on the word cafe. Tchai-Ovna, 42 Otago Lane in the West End of Glasgow is a tea-house found in a very secluded part of the West End, overlooking the beautiful, crystal clear waters of the Kelvin. That was sarcasm.
Inside we were greeted by what appeared to be a philosophy student’s living room that happened to be full of philosophy students. However, this was all completely expected (by me, at least). “It’s pretty fucking pretentious,” was Porter’s very first opinion of the place. He then proceeded to take off his shirt, kiss his biceps brachii, and offer a couple of passers by “free tickets to the gun show.”
We found some nice seats (armchairs) by the fireplace, sat down and looked at the menu. There were a lot of different types of tea. I have an above average knowledge of Chinese tea, so I suggested two for Burrold and myself: Longjing and Tieguanyin. Chris doesn’t drink tea, so he ordered a flapjack. A decision that was so well made that it deserves an entire paragraph all to itself.
Part 1 – A turd and a Chinese etiquette lesson.*
(Notice Burr’s pinky threatening to fly up as he pours his tea.)
The turdjack was delicious. It was microwaved before it was served, which added both to it’s deliciousness and it’s striking resemblance to a great big steaming chocolate mud-baby. If you ever go to Tchai-Ovna, you must try it.
You may have noticed that we were drinking out of bowls. In the 21 years experience I’ve had being Chinese, this was the first time I have ever drunk tea from a bowl. We use those ridiculously small tea cups for a reason – there is less surface area for the tea to cool. And you don’t look like an idiot when you’re drinking it.
The tea we were served is actually the same stuff you would drink if you were in China. It was really, really good and I’m kind of glad there’s somewhere so close to me where I can get a proper pot of Chinese tea.
We were unanimously cosy in our chairs, so much so in fact, that we missed our planned visit to the Colonel and Ports almost missed his train. Is it somewhere we would go regularly? Definitely not. Is it something different you could do every now and again? Definitely yes.
* This is why you tap the table when someone pours tea for you.