Stunning building, great tea
158 Tha Pae Rd, Chiang Mai
T: (053) 234 518, (053) 234 519
We’re not specifically targeting the blue-rinse brigade, but since we regularly review the more interesting coffee shops in Chiang Mai why not a tea shop for a change? And the excellent Siam Celadon is certainly one of Chiang Mai’s finest. So for the low down on Earl Grey and cucumber sandwiches in northern Thailand… here goes.
What’s outstanding about Siam Celadon and what for us makes it well worth a visit is not so much the tea — which is good and which we’ll come to later — but the superb building itself. A stunningly restored old Sino-Thai, two-storey teak mansion house, it dates from 1915. The princess of Thailand actually bestowed an award in recognition of the outstanding restoration upon its completion in 2003.
The interior, including the tea shop/restaurant and gift shop area, has also received an immaculate make-over and there’s a great secluded garden area out the back. The central atrium houses a display and showroom for the celadon ceramic wares from which the tea shop derives its name. (Celadon is a pale green pottery glaze originating in China, also popular in north Thailand.)
The tea shop offers a bewildering array of organic teas originating from owner Raming Tea Company’s plantations in Mae Taeng district north of Chiang Mai, though we couldn’t actually find any Earl Grey as such.
Needless to say there’s also a complete range of coffee offerings and plenty of interesting juices and smoothies including a thoroughly enjoyable and unusual Hurricane (see below) which combines ginger, pineapple and peppermint (85 baht).
Siam Celadon is a restaurant as well as tea/coffee shop, bakery and ceramics showroom, with an eclectic selection of food offerings, from the mundane to the highly original, but all pretty reasonably priced. Rather uninspired Western offerings include a range of breakfasts, afternoon teas, sandwiches (okay no cucumber, we lied about that as well as the Earl Grey), salads and burgers, which are nonetheless well prepared and inexpensive considering the plush surroundings.
Salads, using organic vegetables, sandwiches and even burgers go for 90 to 110 baht but the more interesting items are, not surprisingly, to be found among the Thai offerings. Skipping over the uninspiring generic Asian starters of sate and spring rolls there’s an interesting curry (beef or chicken), which manages to combine tea and longans in the sauce or a pad thai with shrimp and signature tea sauce (yes, you’re starting to see a theme here). There’s not a huge range of choices but 10 out of 10 for originality and prices — 90 baht for a pad thai through to 130 baht for the beef curry isn’t too bad considering, as we said, the five-star setting.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 20th September, 2013.