Braving the Mancunian winds with arms full of Black Friday shopping, my friend and I entered the doors of Chaology. A friendly server greeted us with a bow and guided us to a chalkboard counter on which was displayed an impressive range of sweets, matchas, and teas. What was most striking, however, was the atmosphere. The quintessential Japanese décor, neutral colours, and minimalist aesthetics lent the teahouse a sense of absolute tranquillity. In order to maintain the decorum, the staff spoke in whispers and even encouraged customers to not use the flash on their phones.
After giving us a few moments to settle down, the server explained to us all the items on the menu, took our order and showed us to our seats. The seating area – in typical Japanese style – comprised of a raised wooden platform with a low table, flat black cushions and a basket to store belongings. Within moments of being seated, our food was brought to the table. First, we tried the kuri mochi (sticky chestnut rice cakes filled with red bean paste) that had the Goldilocks amount of subtle sweetness. Next came my personal favourite, a jar of matcha tiramisu, followed by a slice of unexpectedly creamy houjicha (roasted green tea) cheesecake.
All three desserts were unquestionably delicious but it was the tea that stole the show. We had ordered two loose leafed green teas: the sencha (an umami-rich deep steamed variety) and the houjicha (a milder roasted variety with traces of almond and coffee). Our server demonstrated the simple yet meticulous tea preparation process that involved the use of several utensils including a kettle, water cooler, kyusu (teapot), and a teacup. After preparing the first infusion, she left us with detailed instructions on how to prepare the second and third infusions. Each subsequent infusion required a shorter steeping time and lower water temperature, resulting in tea with a more bitter taste and stronger colour.
In retrospect, the teas and sweets were brilliant but what made Chaology truly memorable was its serenity. As you bite into its gastronomical delights and listen to the soothing music, you are compelled to take a break from the mundane and appreciate the little things. If, like me, you dream of experiencing Japan’s unique culture or crave a break from the buzz of the city, Chaology is the place for you.