Homes & Design Photo Credit: Luis Valdizon

Design Crush: Cha Le Tea Cafe

Architect Michael Leckie built a tea house with a modern edge.

We’re suddenly in the mood for a tea party after spotting the gorgeous design of Yaletown’s Cha Le Tea Cafe, crafted by Michael Leckie of Leckie Studio.

“The idea was to create a space to support the client in presenting the culture and rituals of tea,” said Leckie. Given the small space—just 670 square feet—Leckie’s team decided to maximize the area where tea merchants and clients could interact. To accomplish this, a long, singular counter made of engineered quartz is the focus point of the cafe, allowing staff to educate small groups or individuals about the tea and every aspect of the brewing process.

Floor-to-ceiling windows let natural light flow in, so even on the cloudiest Vancouver days Cha Le Tea is bright; a monochromatic milwork adds warmth. Plywood was used to create a multi-functional grid —based on artist Donald Judd’s work—which covers the ceiling and hides lighting, and then carries down onto the wall to feature teas. “We wanted the design to transcend current trends,” said Leckie. “The installation was meant to be minimalist and abstract; we wanted the tea to be the focus.” Other recent project of Leckie Studio in the neighbourhood include Karameller and Small Victory.

Leckie’s team decided on a long singular counter to maximize the space where the merchants can educate and share their passion of tea. “The clients have a very deep understanding and appreciation with tea,” said Leckie. “We used teas sourced from China, some used for only festivals.”
Leckie said the tea brewing system, Alpha Dominche, was very important to the clients for brewing tea and they wanted it in a location where customers could watch the process taking place. Cha Le is the only location in B.C. with the newest Alpha Dominche tea brewing system, where the water is steam-heated. Every type of tea has a different brewing time and temperature to ensure tea tastes the same each time.
Plywood was made into a grid as a spot to hide lights on the ceiling; it spills onto the wall as an open space to show teas.

Plywood continues on the walls, keeping the cohesive look of the grid. The food menu was created by local Chef Darren Brown to bring a local Pacific Northwest inspired snack menu to compliment the international teas.

Cha Le Tea

1207 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
Monday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
chaletea.com

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