Siien-gwa Nongbu (시인과 농부) is a handcraft Korean tea cafe in Suwon.
Located down a maze of alleyways, the building itself is not that easy to find. Additionally, for foreigners, if you weren’t looking for the cafe, you could walk past it a hundred times and not give it any thought. Take a hard look at the photo above and commit it to memory.
Stepping past the entrance way, you’ll notice how this cafe is unlike any other. It is similar to a personal art gallery or an antique shop. The owners have collected (or either crafted) numerous pottery dishes and pots. Statues and busts welcome the guests. Everything seems so delicate that I felt like I should keep both hands and arms to my side. An expansive archive of cassettes, classical CDs and records aligns the walls. And, I imagine that the owner knows them all by memory. It is not just for show. This is uncommon from other independent cafes where magazines and books are only aesthetically placed around the shop for appearance. The owner may even ask you if you have any music preference.
My only criticism about the cafe is that it just so dark. Some people may enjoy the European movie posters and the classical jive. It is intimate. You’ll forget that you’re in Korea, because the shop is unlike any other place. However, it also reminds me of a dungeon. There just aren’t any windows for natural light or fresh air to breathe in. This cafe is a bit otherworldly and may be the kind of place to impress your friends.
During my visit, I particularly wished to sip green tea. The owner prepared all the teaware and gave me a demonstration of how to use it. The drinks menu consists of Korean hand crafted teas. These are the kind of root, petal, extract, and medicinal teas which I believe that most people aren’t familiar with tasting. In fact, you’ll need a Korean friend to explain the menu to you. Although, even if I were to hear them in English, I wouldn’t know or have a discernible taste to identify with them. The owner is friendly and accommodating. On my visit, she presented me with a sample of omicha (오미차), which is a vibrant red sweet cherry-flavored tea. It’s most common for the summer time heat. A glass of omicha can be over 6,000W at some tea cafes. And before I left, she prepared a take-home bottle of handmade jujube tea (대추차). Service!
Finally, when visiting Siien-gwa Nongbu, bring cash. Being the very definition of an independent cafe, they don’t accept debit or credit cards. Every drink is priced around 7,000W, but you’ll receive a plentiful amount to drink and serene atmosphere to lounge with friends
Finding Siien-gwa Nongbu is an adventure. It would be best to type the Korean name into the Naver Maps app and to follow it. It is located near the main road of Paldalmun rotary and the Hwasung Fortress. In the area, there are many traditional chicken restaurants, like Jin-mi Tong-dalk. The address of Siien-gwa Nongbu is:
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