Affluent Athenian shopping district Kolonaki may have suffered its own downturn during the Greek financial crisis, but it has begun showing signs of a defiant cultural renaissance, with a number of new cafes, boutiques and creative institutions springing up on its steep streets.
One prime example, on Alexandrou Soutsou, is To Tsai, a small but perfectly formed teahouse that recently underwent an interior overhaul by architectural firm Georges Batzios. The calm, minimalist space, inspired by traditional Japanese tea ceremony architecture, features pale wooden furnishings, including a tea island, and a laminated timber framework, backlit to create shadows and lines.
'The ornament-free minimalistic details of the interior spaces, combined with the wonderful odour palette of the teas and the soft music, are creating that 'Zen' universe (where) the artsy residents and tourists can retire (while within) this noisy part of the city,' says Batzios.
The teahouse has two distinct spaces: a serene lounge, perfect for escaping the hubbub of the city and a retail space, stocking around 500 varieties of tea.
A constant source of relaxation and renewal for many of us, tea, as Batzios puts it, 'works like a remedy'.