Walking past Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao on Glenridge Avenue, I was immediately sucked in by the stark Zen beauty of the place.  Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao, which opened two weeks ago, is part tea shop, art gallery, and oasis of tea culture. 

TeacannistersOwner Robert Scott travelled the world while cultivating a  passion for tea. Now, he brings Baristaville enough tea choices to last a lifetime. Listening to Scott describe teas – floral, full bodied, nutty, earthy – and discuss blends, growing regions and harvests – is like listening to a Napa valley winemaker.

Sit down for a pot ($4, and sold in bulk), but first look over the menu of 170 teas from all over the planet with names like Golden Nepal, All That Jazz, and Butter Truffle.  Don’t be put-off by the vast choices – Manager Miu Eng will guide you through the blacks, greens, florals, flavored, Oolongs, whites, herbals, chais and more.  Or you can start with a sniff test at the bar.  “If you like the smell, you’ll like the taste,” she says… We opted for a mild vanilla-kiwi flavored green tea. Mmmm…

The display case of exotic sounding gourmet sweets is tempting. We tasted tea cookies made with lemongrass-ginger, green tea, black currant and earl grey tea ($3/plate). Showing unusual restraint, we skipped the sinfully rich dark chocolate brownies with mandarin orange.

If you are into teapot collecting, there’s a lot of eye candy here. Many museum quality clay and iron teapots are on display (and for sale). The finest handcrafted pots are Yixing from China and Kyusu from Japan.  You may want to think twice about serving tea from these showpieces…prices range up to $300.


Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao means Ancient Tea and Horse Trail, a trail linking southwest China to Tibet, also called the southern Silk Road.  Each month, look for their tastings of up to six different teas ($12), discover the 5,000 year tradition of tea, and go home with a goodie bag of tea samples. On Saturday mornings, bring the kids to an hour long tea party ($4/kid) with pure fruit teas, cookies, music and a book reading. And that’s just the beginning…Scott promises more tea events in future months. Warm up and chill out at 212 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair. Call for dates and to reserve, 973-746-0975. — Annette Batson

34 replies on “Just Your Cup Of Tea”

  1. Oh my God. This place sounds like heaven to me, a huge tea lover. Will definitely make it there, though probably not on “kiddie Saturday.” Should kids be drinking tea anyway?

  2. The kiddie teas are fruit infusions – no acidity, no caffeine. But “infusion party” just doesn’t sound right…

  3. I am sooo excited…this is exactly what I have been wanting in Montclair.
    Wonder if they will have wi-fi access…

  4. I walked in there about a week ago..wow..it looks and smells great..and it’s really chock full of teas:)
    Best of luck
    ps..To all of those who had said to me
    ..’Wayne..get them on your cable show, everyone would love to see this new place’..well, I thought so too..but the owner wasn’t interested.

  5. I’m looking forward to getting over there…friends have been numerous times already, and love it! But I’m a bit surprised to see that there is a charge for tasting teas, as it’s commonplace to offer tastes for free. Walk in to Amanti Vino on a weekend afternoon, and they’ll offer you a taste of wine; go to most coffee houses, and they’ll let you try a sip or two of an unusual blend. $12? I think I’ll pass on that when I go, even if it’s presented as a ‘flight,’ it’s a little off-putting.

  6. If you love tea, don’t forget Montclair’s other new tea spot, Terra Tea Salon & Fair Trade Market, at 10 Church St. (where the health food store used to be)

  7. I do like Terra–except for the fact that it’s so ridiculously HOT in there all the time! I know they’re at the mercy of the heating system in the building, but honestly, I’d shut it off completely unless it’s below 10 degrees…it’s really not someplace where I want to hang around.

  8. Gail, you’re so right…Terra Tea Salon is a wonderful place…and the owners, Carla and Grace, are the nicest people…and you wouldn’t have to spend a weeks wages to take home some goodies.
    AND…one could then take a nice walk in, up , down, and around Church Street….with a little snow, it’s a great thing to do..(think it’ll snow this winter?)

  9. This confirmed coffee addict was struck by the space that housed the new tea establishment. I loved the space and immediately fantasized about how great it would be to live in a space like that etc.
    Then down to teas: so many!!! A friend and I settled on a fruity blend although I wanted a more smokey blend. It was good and the cookies were lovely and delicate. I looked for teas that might be medicinal and had an interesting conversation with the tea doyen–I forgot her name.
    However, my mystery goes unanswered…I am looking for a tea called Mu (no, not for my adorable orange cat Tang Poohzie) Tea; a wondrous blend that went so well with the marijuana of years ago. I do not wish to re-start that habit after decades. I just want my Mu Tea.
    Anyone hear of it?
    Yes, I hope this restful, unpretentious establishment can afford the rent it takes to stay there. If every Starseed client went across the street to imbibe at least one cup of tea a day….

  10. “Infusion Party?” Hell, no! Makes me think of good times while receiving chemotherapy at St. Barnabas Cancer Center a while back. (I am fine, now.)
    Was it a party? Hell, no–although the pre-chemo drugs left me stoned until I got used to them.

  11. In a general sense, as a long-time tea drinker, I’m heartened to see any new tea-oriented business open, and wish Mr. Scott, as well as the owners of Terra Tea, much good fortune.
    It’ll be interesting to see if Mr. Scott’s business model – offer lots of flavored teas & blends in a bid to siphon off some of the Starbucks crowd – is viable over the long term. I have to say that his offerings of Single Estate Black teas, though fairly priced, are slim and generally mundane. His shop may be a wonderful place to sit and enjoy a pot of good tea – I look forward to trying it – but I won’t be making any bulk purchases there until he gets some more interesting selections, which I hope he will do in the near future.

  12. I am just now noticing the date on Annette’s entry above. Has B-net somehow been able to warp the space-time continuum and obtain visions of future retail openings? Fascinating.
    IKW, if you google “Mu tea,” you will get over 600 hits & numerous places from whence you can order it. I love some of the marketing descriptions of this stuff – “No caffeine!” “Not irradiated or fumigated!” and particularly “NO CARBS!”

  13. This is a wonderful establishment with truly delicious teas. The “Hope and Memory” white tea is especially ethereal. The owner and manager are delightful, and no, you don’t have to “spend a week’s wages” here. Wayne, your comment sounds like sour grapes because they didn’t want to be on your show. Childish and unprofessional.
    Let’s wish both shops the best!

  14. Hi Play Nice….I wish both places the best too…I really thought it would help them to get some exposure, the place looks great, and I know people would like to see it, and it would be a good segment for the show..
    No sour grapes at all…I was trying to help them, I didn’t mind that they were not interested…really, plenty of neighbors understand the reasoning of being on local cable tv. So, I’m not Childish and unprofessional thank you.

  15. went there this evening and had a delightful cup of tea in beautiful surroundings. i also enjoyed talking to the owner, robert, and the manager, miu. i couldn’t decide which tea to try, so i closed my eyes and picked one. it was ‘best friends’ a lovely, smooth black tea blended with ceylon and one or two other additions. i also had some of the tea cookies–they’re lovely.
    and wayne and other posters are also right about terra tea, it’s another wonderful addition to the montclair “bistro’ offerings. the tea there is also delicious and it’s nice to have those tables to sit at. both places are great and i think that montclairions will embrace a chance to learn about all the tea varieties. and one more place worth mentioning for tea lovers–the london food company on bloomfield, next to little cricket (where i satisfy my vintage towel fix) which has also saved me from an unrequited tea craving on more than a few occasions. she showcases teas from all over the world, and is always friendly and welcoming as well.

  16. Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao sounds absolutely delightful – Can’t wait to try it out, and I wish the Scotts all the best of luck with the new shop!! I see a road-trip coming in my near future… Perhaps two (one sans kids).
    Good luck!
    PS – Coming from a wine enthusiast and frequent event planner in Napa, not to mention many other locations, it is actually becoming quite common for wineries to charge for tastings… Not surprised at all to see it here as well.

  17. Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao sounds wonderful!!! Can’t wait to visit and finally experience the joy of tea! Best of luck to the Scotts! I wonder who will be overseeing the children’s tea parties?….

  18. I am really looking forward to trying this new tea house. However, I also must put in my two cents regarding Terra Tea on Church Street–superb! My husband and I recently went for a late lunch. We shared a delicious pot of Ceylon while we feasted on scones with clotted cream, a crumpet with poached egg, cucumber sandwiches and more. Of special note is their shortbread, just perfect. The owners are also absolutely delightful.

  19. The folks at Cha-Ma-Gu-Dao treated my kids so well while Christmas shopping – they found the perfect gift for tea-drinking grandpa. Terra is also a wonderful place. I think the town can support them both

  20. My husband & I are truly delighted by this tea shop. The selections are plentiful and the staff pleasant and knowledgeable. Even my husband, a devout coffee drinker, really enjoyed the tea suggested based on his likes. The atmosphere is soothing and zen-like. We loved it and recommend you try it once; you will want to go back.

  21. Finally ,I could go to a peaceful,museum-like place to enjoy tea without driving to New York City. The staffs we very helpful the last few times that I have visited Cha-Mu-Gu-Dao. The very humbled and down-to- earth Manager- Miu is a delightful person to talk to.
    God luck to the owners and staffs.

  22. I keep going back to this tea house…there are so many different kinds to try! Their cookies have quite refined taste, too. Of course, as many people have already said, the people there are friendly and helpful 🙂 I can spend hours there!

  23. Congratulations to Robert on redefining the art of drinking tea! My husband and I love the minimalist design that gives the place such serenity. Plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy our tea and delicious cookies. The only thing I’m concerned about is my OCD like tendency to buy tea – it was easy when everyone else had the selection of usual suspects, but now that I have hundreds to pick from, I might just be in trouble!

  24. If you are looking for a nice place to sit and have a chat with a friend this may be it. The atmosphere is wonderful, the staff is informative and the cookies are special. Oh yeah, the tea is great too.

  25. Was so happy to find this place! I’m always looking for a nice, quiet place to plop down for a few hours to study. A friend and I went a couple of weeks ago with my law books and laptop and sat for 4 hours, drank 3 pots of tea, had some cookies, and really enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere. (And, yes, I too imagined how much I’d love to live ina place like that! The decor is amazing…love the bamboo floors!)
    Please go to this place – it’d be a shame if it doesn’t survive!

  26. Butch, you’re so right about this place…and they will survive.
    They are a featured segment on Inside Montclair on Tv – 34. You can meet Robert Scott, the owner, as he takes us on a tour.
    Mon. Wed. Fri. at 8pm.

  27. Stopped-in for a quick first-time visit just before closing on a Saturday night. Selection is impressive, but would like to see more decaf black tea offerings. The interior design is soothing but could use some New Age background music to make the place feel “alive.” Overheard another couple there suggest expanded hours to capture an after-dinner scene; the owner agreed and said it was a staffing issue. We will be coming back and hope to see some improvements.

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