Pantjoran Tea House, a cultural history

Not only enjoying the warmth of the tea, I also ordered the appetizers: salt and pepper tofu and chicken-fried spring rolls. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – In the midst of the hectic Glodok area, Central Jakarta, there is a place that you can visit tea lovers and connoisseurs. The new place, opened in mid-2016, is right at the corner of the Glodok area. The architecture of the building is quite striking in the middle of the dull buildings in this area. Apparently, it used to be “Pantjoran Tea House” which was a tea house. This building is part of the Jakarta Old Town Revitalization Corporation (JOTRC) project and Jakarta Endowment for Arts and Heritage (Jeforah), and has been around since 1635. In 1928, this building was used as “Apotheek Chung Hwa”, known as a landmark of the Chinatown area of ​​Batavia. You could say this was the building that was first seen by migrants in Batavia at that time. Regarding its history, the building was renovated in 2015; then, it reopened as the Pantjoran Tea House. Its presence helped support the government’s efforts to make Jakarta’s Old City area a UNESCO cultural heritage site. According to sources, the restoration of this building was quite extensive because only 20 percent of the original buildings are left.

High curiosity led me to the restaurant. Right in front of the entrance, there are several teapots and glasses arranged on a table complete with a piece of paper that says “Free Tea”. Pantjoran Tea House prepared eight teapots and clean glasses in front of the shop so the public could stop for a drink.

“The traditional name is patekoan. Pat is eight, the teapot is a teapot. This tradition is from the Glodok area. There used to be one Chinese descendant named Gan Djie; he distributed free tea to workers and surrounding people who felt hot, by putting eight teapots in front of his office (now the Way of Commerce),” explained Ronald Dani Heriawan, Operations Manager of Pantjoran Tea House.

The touch of the interior used is oriental nuance so closely with this shop. Tables, chairs, doors and room dividers are dominated by wood. To make this building more modern, a hanging bulb was chosen as a lighting enhancer. Even though it is at a busy crossroad, being in this room feels peaceful. The sound of a horn or the roar of a vehicle’s engine is almost inaudible. For the food menu presented by Pantjoran Tea House it is using peranakan roots from China and Indonesia. Varying from appetizers such as dimsum to main courses of various seafood and soup. But for the tea varieties, they provide leaves from the UK, China, Japan, and of course Indonesia. The categories are Chinese Tea, Japanese Tea, English Tea and Indonesian Premium, including Jasmine, Oolong, Earl Phu, Smoky Green Tea, Chrysanthemum, Kwan In Tie, Sencha, Genmaicha, Earl Gray, English Breakfast and Orange Pekoe.

I also tried Chinese tea, which is a type of Oolong tea; the earthy aroma gives a refreshing feeling when the tea is served in front of us. The taste itself is not bitter and light. A little reminiscent of the aroma of wood with each sip. As a complement to my tea that day, I ordered light snacks such as tofu, salt pepper and chicken fried spring rolls.

In addition, various cultural events such as painting from China and craft art workshops are also often held at Pantjoran Tea House. Open from 7am to 9pm, Pantjoran Tea House can be an option to enjoy a cup of warm tea and get to know the history of Batavia more deeply. (Aldo)