Tea Time

A journey through tea culture at the Prince Tea House

Tea plays a significant role in many cultures, serving not just as a drink but as a pivotal element in rituals and social gatherings as a symbol of hospitality. In Philadelphia’s Chinatown, the Prince Tea House embodies this tradition, creating a spot where tea is the centerpiece for parties, catching up with friends, and enjoying the company of those around you.

While this tea house centers around the enjoyment of tea in various Asian cultures, tea spans far beyond the borders of Asia and is deeply ingrained in cultures worldwide. In Britain, afternoon tea is synonymous with sophistication, featuring delicacies like crustless cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and petit fours. Similarly, Morocco often serves mint tea alongside sweet pastries like baklava or chebakia (sesame and honey cookies).

Meanwhile, in Japan, the ritual of tea ceremony, known as chanoyu, emphasizes mindfulness and simplicity, typically accompanied by wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets crafted to complement the subtle nuances of matcha.

Prince Tea House extends this global appreciation of tea culture. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, with a fantastic global selection of teas imported from France and elegant desserts made in-house. The understated yet luxurious decor adds charm, inviting guests to indulge in a serene tea experience reminiscent of the world’s finest traditions.

My partner and I recently enjoyed afternoon tea for two, complete with two types of tea and a tiered tower of finger sandwiches, scones, and bite-size desserts like macarons, matcha crepe cake, and strawberry mousse. We opted for a tropical oolong tea, vibrant with mango, passion fruit, and guava flavors, and a calming lavender green milk tea.

It wasn’t easy to choose from the dozens of tea options. The wide range of types and flavors, each representative of a unique culture, was eye-opening. A slice of mango Mille Crepe cake completed our visit, adding a sweet finish to our meal.

Speaking with Rachel Huang, the owner of Prince Tea House, provided deeper insight into the role of tea in cultural settings. She explained, “Tea is more than just a beverage; it’s a tradition that connects people. Drinking tea is symbolic of friendship, respect, and socializing.” This philosophy is evident in how the tea house operates, focusing on the quality of the tea and the interpersonal connections it fosters.

Since opening in October 2019, Prince Tea House has made it their mission to offer an authentic tea experience. They pride themselves on sourcing exceptional teas and pairing them with an extensive menu of traditional Asian and European treats.

With its diverse customs and traditions, tea culture serves as a universal language that transcends borders and brings people together. Whether enjoyed in the bustling streets of Philly’s Chinatown or the cozy parlors of England, the ritual of tea drinking fosters connections, celebrates heritage, and nourishes the soul.

⭐ MUST-TRY MENU ITEMS ⭐

Beef Sukiyaki Baguette. A sandwich featuring marinated sliced beef and crispy onions, known for its melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

Purple Yam Mille Crepe Cake. Thin, soft purple ube (a violet yam native to Southeast Asia) crepes piled high, with fluffy coconut cream between each layer. Small bits of tender coconut inside add a tasty touch. This dessert isn’t super sugary, so it pairs perfectly with hot teas.

Takoyaki. One of the most popular Japanese snacks. It’s filled with diced octopus and made of wheat flour based butter. Topped with Kewpie mayonnaise, Otafuku sauce and bonito flakes.

Other foodie faves include: the assorted mini pastry platters for a taste of varied delights, the elegant Scone Finger Sandwiches that redefine afternoon tea, or freshly made waffles with your choice of toppings.

Don’t forget the teas! Among the favorites are the Longjing (also known as “The Dragon Well”), a classic Chinese green tea known for its delicate fragrance and slightly sweet flavor, and the Fleur De Geisha green tea, (aka Cherry Blossom tea), which captivates with its floral notes and subtle cherry undertones.

Prince Tea House 👑🫖✨
203 N. 9th Street (Chinatown)
215-560-8912
Open Sun – Thurs noon – 10pm; Fri/Sat noon – 11pm
Facebook, Instagram

🗣️ COMMENTS WELCOME! 😋
What do you think? Have you been to Prince Tea House, or enjoyed “high tea” anywhere else in Philadelphia? Please share below in the Comments, or catch up with me on Instagram @gingersliketoeat. If you enjoyed this feature, please check out last month’s column, about the unique Mexican spin on Chinese cuisine that you’ll find at Philly’s first and only “Mexicali” restaurant in Spring Arts.

About Eleni Finkelstein 23 Articles
Eleni Finkelstein (aka @gingersliketoeat on Instagram) is a South Jersey and Philadelphia-based food blogger and journalist. She loves traveling, trying new foods, and cheering on Philly sports teams. You can check out her book, "Eat Like a Local: South Jersey" on Amazon.

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