The food: Half teahouse and half restaurant, the Dupont Circle Teaism (other branches are in Penn Quarter and Lafayette Square) draws influences from Japan, Thailand, and India. For breakfast, try cilantro-scrambled organic eggs and tea-cured salmon or Irish oatmeal with apricots and raisins. Lunch offerings include sandwiches, rice-and-tea soups, and four bento boxes ($8.75) with centerpieces such as grilled vegetables or teriyaki salmon. To go with the tea are confections such as salty oat cookies, jasmine crème brûlée, and coconut rice pudding. There’s a selection of hot and cold drinks, loose-leaf teas (black, white, oolong, green), and tisanes. Afternoon tea ($20) is available British style (scones, sandwiches, tartlets) or Asian (tea-cured salmon, mochi, ginger ice cream).
The scene: A small Japanese garden, with simple wooden benches and a stone sculpture, makes a peaceful entrance to the cafe, just off busy Connecticut Avenue. Inside, teapots, ceramic bowls, and packaged tea are for sale; drinks and food are ordered at the counter. Snag a window seat downstairs or wander up the wide, worn staircase to find a perch in the quieter upstairs room, where many customers are settled in with a book or laptop.
What’s nearby: Teaism is about two blocks north of the Dupont Circle Metro stop (Red Line). Along Connecticut Avenue are boutiques, bookstores (such as Kramerbooks), restaurants, bars, and clubs. The Phillips Collection, a modern-art museum, is about three blocks away.
Insider tips: Among the three Teaism locations (including Lafayette Park and Penn Quarter) there are changing art exhibits and meetings. Look online for event listings. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday between 9 and 2:30.
Customers can buy two-ounce packages of tea to brew at home.