Part of the cultural mélange that is Koreatown, Hwa Sun Ji is the area’s finest and arguably most authentic tea room. The Tea Palace, as we like to call it, appears to be a recreation of a traditional Korean tea house, although set inside a once-modern office building, it possesses that mixture of old tradition and in new settings that you inevitably find all over Los Angeles.
Inside you’ll find woven bamboo shades separating each table so that when you’re having the intimate discussion that drinking tea demands, no one will be awkwardly staring at you and ruining your moment. All the decorations in the place, from the quiet water feature to the parchment with what looks like important Chinese characters written on it to the colorful ceramic teaware, perpetuate the palatial, traditional experience. Especially at night, Hwa Sun Ji is an escape from the madness of the city in the same way spas are, where the noises seem to disappear, and, even if just for a moment, you might forget what you did that day or what you have to do the next day.
And all of this aligns perfectly with the wide selection of authentic teas; extending far beyond the usual green, black, and white teas, and even beyond the usual tisanes you’d find at the high-quality tea shop, the selection of teas at Hwa Sun Ji is truly one of a kind in Los Angeles. The soo-jung gwa, for example, a Korean punch made from cinnamon and persimmon and served ice cold, is the kind of refreshing drink the waitress describes as “very Korean” that you really won’t find being served anywhere else. It’s delicate balance of crushed ice, cinnamon, floating pine nuts, and persimmon, make it one of the most unique and delicious beverages around. Hwa Sun Ji also serves high quality hot teas in abundance, with Korean specialities like Deer’s Young Antler and Persimmon Leaf, that you’ll truly be hard-pressed to find anywhere else (save Hankook Teas). The menu is organized by type of tea (loose leaf, green, cold, aroma, medicinal), with the specific medicinal qualities of each tea listen under each tea. And even though it’s slightly odd and uncommon to consider what you’ll be drinking for more than its caffeine content or how it will taste, exploring the menu with health benefits in mind provides another chance to enjoy the authentic Korean tea house experience.
The staff will let you enjoy your tea without pestering; bring a book, a friend, or a computer, and enjoy the unique and traditional atmosphere.
Soo-jung Gwa (Korean Punch)
Chrysanthemum tea (with teapot)
Persimmon leaf tea
Deer’s Young Antler tea
Complimentary Barley tea
Tip: Free wi-fi
Parking: free lot in back; easy street parking at night
Metro: Red Line Wilshire / Western head west, 720 exit Western head west, 20 exit Wilton head east