I just recently discovered Bean and Leaf Cafe in Royal Oak, which I must begrudgingly admit (only because it's Royal Oak and I still remember the days of the Coffee Beanery and Brazil) I love. Their pastry case is barely a grade above Starbucks's but their coffee selections are phenomenal, and they also host photography exhibits so it's got that whole artsy vibe thing working for it. I was in Royal Oak once again last Monday and was tempted to stop in for another Vietnamese coffee (it has evaporated milk in it--perfecto), but something kept my feet moving until I stumbled across Goldfish Tea.
Goldfish Tea is a wonderfully unique cafe brimming over with authentic Chinese furniture and accessories. They sell ONLY premium loose leaf Chinese teas--there are no herbal teas, no blends, no freakin' chamomile. Chinese loose leaf tea. That's it. And that's brilliant.
(I can appreciate a healthy stubborn attitude in business--and for this business's sake, thankfully so can Royal Oakites who love a good exclusive cultural experience.)
I spent some time chatting up the very knowledgable clerk and discovered the owners actually lived in China for awhile, so all of the items inside are all actually from China--including the nearly immovable had-carved wooden couches and fixtures, all made from reclaimed wood in China, as well as the ridiculously cheap glass and stone jewelry on sale (I bought a sweet necklace of a heavy green glass leaf on a leather cord for $8.00)--apparently the owners, while living in China, would send all sorts of cheap jewelry to the States which would then be re-sold in flea markets, and now have this surplus of extra jewelry on sale in the store. There is also a variety of tea accessories (wooden tea boats, porcelain and clay serving sets) available to purchase.
The overall effect is a lovely, warm and welcoming space saturated in Chinese artifacts for you to enjoy your (albeit pricey) premium tea that you simply will NOT be able to find elsewhere (these aren't teas you can buy in a box at the grocery store), with a knowledgable and friendly staff willing to assist you in your selections and complimentary Wi-Fi access so you can relax and get some work done. And if you're hungry, Goldfish Tea sells a variety of delicate cookies and pastries that pair well with tea brought in daily from the Pinwheel Bakery in Ferndale.
I fell in love with this place immediately, as I'm sure you will too. Although walking around Royal Oak usually saddens me as I see so little remaining of the city it was 10 years ago (a quick mental inventory reveals about 10 original businesses that have withstood this last decade of change), it is new additions such as this that make me believe maybe it's not all that bad.
Golfish Tea is located at 117 West 4th Street, and is open daily 9:00AM-10:00PM.
All photos by Sean McClelland.