Famed Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder, Colo. aaa a masterpiece of architecture named for the capital of Tajikistan, is located in a sedate, natural setting a town suited to tea.
Tourists love this place, with good reason. A gift from Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan, the monumental structure’s authentic décor is lavish and intricate. The Tajik craftsmanship stood out as an enchanting spectacle within a successful urban redevelopment.
The walls were adorned with numerous awards, and the menu had all the right buzzwords, from “Persian food” (actually more pan-Asian and pan-Mediterranean with North American accents, such as pulled pork sandwiches) to “experimental,” “seasonal” and “seed-to-plate” (the exact nature of which was not specified).
The tea list was large, with more than 80 choices, including rare and seasonal options and a custom blend from Celestial Seasonings. Dushanbe also serves seasonal tea cocktails.
At first glance, Dushanbe was as impressive as it was enormous.
Green tea is Tajikistan’s national drink, and Persian culture is known for its spiced teas and blends with roses, but you wouldn’t know that from Dushanbe’s menu.
The staff was rightly proud of Dushanbe as one of the cornerstone's of Boulder’s tea renaissance. Several new tea businesses have started in Boulder since Dushanbe opened in 1998, but that’s to be expected given the growth of tea in America.
On the surface it is beautiful, the tea was good, the meal enjoyable – but it lacked a deeper significance. Perhaps, sometimes, a meal is just a meal and a restaurant is just a restaurant.