By Teresa Geer, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the largest coffee exporter in the world one may expect to find a wide supply of tea in Brazil as well, yet many travelers – especially from those from the UK – may find it a challenge. Even so, tea hunting can be a pleasant pursuit while uncovering the lesser-known establishments that serve a replenishing cup of chá (tea) in Rio’s Centro.
The first stop for classic tea lovers is down the cobbled streets toward Rua Sete de Setembro. Here, the charming Casa Cavé welcomes it’s customers to step through its doors and enter a colonial time warp.
Even Waldir, the cordial waiter, offers a small drop of history into his customers cups as he proudly announces, “I have been serving black tea here for more than 25 years.”
The tea itself is a respectable range of Twinings; classic English Breakfast and a range of green or fruit based options. Perfectly brewed and expertly served in the choice of two sizes of teapots, single or double.
It is the surroundings, however, that truly sweeten the cup; Casa Cavé was founded in 1860, and in the quaint Salão de Chá patrons can settle into the romantic surrounds, forgetting the Centro hustle and bustle is just on the other side of the wall.
Continuing the journey through Centro, the corner that Café Rosário occupies on Rua do Rosário, could easily be mistaken for a Parisian lane as one finds themselves lost in the book shops and art galleries that surround this refined retreat. Aside from the variety of international teas on the menu, Café Rosário is a haven for gluten gluttons with an elegant selection of home-baked breads available including nutty and fruity loaves.
If such a refined fair isn’t quite what the day calls for, a more laid-back option isn’t far down the road in the hip Lapa Café where a wide selection of teas are served up. Also a great option for night cats as they are open most nights until 11PM.
The finest selection of chá may not be on offer here, but the stylish surroundings, contemporary art hanging from the walls and even a classic Land Rover at the entrance, all announce that this joint will take you to places beyond the norm.
Don’t let the ‘Café’ part of the name fool you though, things liven up at night when the venue hosts local bands and customers can browse the mind-boggling choice of Brazilian and international craft beers on the menu.
For those looking for tea that truly packs a punch then the newest addition to Centro’s café culture, Besi, will be a hit. Offering up an excellent array of teas from The Gourmet Tea Company, Besi was downtown’s best kept secret for a time.
The Rua do Carmo café finds itself carefully tucked away at the back of the charming Granado homeware store the café enjoys a whopping three floors of lunchtime seating with a great selection of pastries, sandwiches and salads to accompany that steamy gourmet mug; plus with free WiFi for all customers, Besi provides and excellent excuse to stay seated a while.
Especially on a relatively chilly or rainy “winter” day in Rio de Janeiro, when the beach or a hike is not an option, touring Centro can be just the thing. Add in a delightful spot of tea, and the day can be brilliant.