Although Korea is better known for being a country obsessed with cafés and coffees (in particular, Americanos), they are traditionally tea drinkers with a strong tea culture. Hence, in quiet nooks and cultural villages, you’ll find quaint tea houses that serve a warm cup of tea paired with traditional Korean sweets.
Insadong is one of those neighbourhoods in Seoul where tea houses flourish. Back in 2019 when I was absolutely in love with tea and would scour the city for any good teas I could get my hands on, I found Jeontong Dawon. Jeontong Dawon is a tea cafe located inside Kyung-In Gallery in Insadong – its architecture stores the features of 19th Century traditional hanok with Korean traditional style interiors.
I visited on a rainy day, which had both its pros and cons – the good being that it was the perfect weather to indulge in warm tea, the bad being that the scenery was not quite as good as it would have been. However, I did still manage to admire the beautiful orange-yellow foliage. Most people recommend visiting in spring (cherry blossoms!) or autumn for especially beautiful views.
We ordered hot sejak (green tea made with young, tender leaves and buds hand-plucked after gogu, or “grain rain”) and paired it with some Korean traditional sweets.
For the sejak, they served the hot water and tea leaves separately, leaving you to brew the tea as you wish. I liked this as it gave us time to slowly savour our afternoon tea without worrying that it would turn cold.
The Korean sweets consisted of yakgwa (honey cookies), yugwa (crispy rice snack), and gotgamssam (walnuts wrapped in persimmon). These were super yummy, especially the yakgwa – I was so addicted to them that I bought some ready-made ones to bring home to eat, but none could compare to the ones I had at Jeontong Dawon!!
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to snap a photo of the menu, but as far as I can remember the prices were pretty reasonable, I would say on par with that of the usual cafés in Seoul. We ordered from a staff member who was very proficient in English, so no worries as well about any potential language barriers.
We spent about one hour here to slowly sip on our sejak and nibble on our sweets, which was a lovely break from the sightseeing and shopping that we had been doing. If you want a taste of Korean traditions, or just simply want a beautiful spot to rest after a tiring day, I highly recommend dropping by Jeontong Dawon.
Address: 11-4 Insadong 10-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea