OCHAO was a bit of a surprise, really. My wife and I happened to pass by, and we were immediately intrigued by the appearance. The interior struck us as Zen, like a Japanese tea garden.
Hence, we were surprised to learn that there is nothing Japanese about the tea selections. In fact, the minimal tea menu (6 kinds) is entirely sourced locally from Vietnamese producers.
On our visit, we had a pot each of the wild green tea (grown naturally in Northern Vietnam, and handpicked by Hmong hilltribes) and the "Five Flowers" tea (consisting of five wonderful flowers which I cannot remember but with a fruity scent and sweet taste). The lotus tea, sourced from our own locale, West Lake, and the farmed green teas both smelled wonderful, as well.
OCHAO also serves up 'omai', or dried fruits to snack on while enjoying your tea. We had an assortment of dried fruits, including dried flower, strawberry, mango, plum and apricot. The apricot and strawberry were particularly interesting. A nice touch to go with the tea.
The second floor of OCHAO has amazing views of West Lake; even more quaint, they fashioned the second floor like a rock garden -- white rocks canvas the floor while big, comfy sofas allow you to sprawl and soak up the view.
I am impressed by OCHAO; Xuan Dieu has been crying out for something like this, as there are already plenty of coffee joints to frequent. This is indeed the first proper tea house.
The owners -- the French husband and Vietnamese wife, and their little son -- are very friendly and can answer any questions you have. Do be patient with the service; they have just opened and do not have enough staff to attend to everyone quickly when there are numerous tables to serve. Patience is a virtue, and a necessity in Hanoi. But especially so when a young couple is trying to start up their dream.
Full disclosure - the recently employed manager here is a good friend and a translator for Little Tigers.
Having said that, despite the connection, this place easily warrants a five star rating. It is nothing short of exceptional. I am a coffee person, always have been. But this place, with their range of outstanding teas, really has turned me onto tea. Their white tea is so smooth and delicate, their jasmine tea is so fragrant and delicious. I'm hooked.
The premises have been designed with a lot of care and to a very high standard. Downstairs is smaller and with a distinctly traditional teahouse seating arrangement. Still very comfortable but all at floor level. Upstairs is all comfy new lounges, with, I kid you not, some of the very best views over the lake you will ever get.
There are some lovely in-house made nibbles but no meals - it's a tea house and designed to be an oasis of calm to allow patrons to enjoy quality tea in a lovely environment. There are deliberately no TVs or loud music playing - just some nice gentle music to help set the scene. Wi-fi is available should you feel the need to drag your eyes away from the view.
Such is the owner's commitment to their business, they are seeking an expert tea-maker to come and more fully train their staff in preparing, serving and explaining tea. A commendable direction to be taking.
Ochao is preparing Christmas gifts of the beautiful ceramic tea sets and some tea shortly so drop in to check this out. Ochao is actually a tea company first and foremost so they do know their business. They work closely with ethnic groups to ensure all quality, natural tea is collected and fair prices paid to the growers.
A truly delightful place that is a wonderful addition to the Xuan Dieu melting pot of options.
I love Ochao. It's my official Happy Place that I come to at least once a week. I usually order My Grandma's Tea, some hibiscus o mai and gaze out into West Lake until all the reasons why I love Hanoi come back. I particularly like the mixed infusions because they remind me of the city itself: a surprising, complicated blend with lots of layers.
The servers are lovely and attentive, and the managers and owners really care about their customers. When I had my wedding recently, I ordered little o mai bags to give to my guests. When I came to pick up the order, they'd made a special little basket just for me as a wedding gift! These are people who truly care.
The only reason why I'm not giving it a five is their cakes. All of the rest of their food is delicious, but the cakes are the Vietnamese variety - technically cakes, but more like a healthy muffin. Put some more butter and sugar into those things! Other than that, any time you need some peace, go straight to Ochao.
A little oasis of calm overlooking the lake with the atmosphere of a Japanese tea house with the utmost respect for the tea itself and a real care for good customer service.
Ok so your cup of green tea may cost you around 30,000 rather than 3,000 on the street but the quality and taste is worth it. Great choices, unusual teas and interesting bites to go with it - tried a complimentary bite of cake. Loved the "Tet" tea infused with kumquat and coriander - incredible taste.
The upstairs is a haven, perfectly decorated and a great view. Wifi was working fine and the staff constantly offered to top up my hot water to make my one cup turn into several.
Briefly met the manager who seemed very keen to find out about my experience and how the staff had looked after me.
Great little spot and such a nice alternative to places like Segafredo on Xuan Dieu.
Well deserved top spot on New Hanoian.
OCHÂO's best feature is the excellent view over West Lake from the upper floor. The tasty tea and friendly service (especially from the manager) simply ensure nothing detracts from the serenity of this location (serenity of course being a relative term when it comes to Hanoi).
If you haven't been yet, get in quick before word really gets out and it becomes impossible to find a seat.
If you like OCHÂO Tea House...