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In Asian countries, a teahouse is an establishment which primarily serves tea and other refreshments. In the context of the Himalayan regions of Nepal, teahouses are mountain lodges that provide meals and accommodation along the trekking routes. They resemble alpine huts equipped primarily with private rooms and a variety of local foods. The Everest base camp trail is quite famous for its teahouses and the services they provide.
What is a teahouse?
Simply, a guest house or hotel in the mountain regions is called a tea house where trekkers can sleep and eat their food. Tea houses provide basic accommodation with limited meal items. In recent years, teahouses in the Everest base camp trek route are well facilitated that offer hot showers, western toilets, internet and charging facilities for travelers.
What is teahouse trekking?
The term “Teahouse trekking” is very popular among the trails of the Himalayas. It simply refers to a style of trekking that involves going from teahouse to teahouse.
After a long day of strenuous hiking, resting in a comfortable place and refueling for the next day are very much a necessity. You don’t need to bring a tent or carry your food on routes with a sufficient number of tea houses. The Khumbu Region is very popular for its teahouses. Along with the beautiful scenery of the tallest mountains in the world, the culture of the Sherpa people living there is well encapsulated in the form of teahouse trekking.
What can you expect from a Teahouse?
The quality and availability of teahouses vary between the Himalayan regions of Nepal. The Everest region, the Annapurna range and the Langtang Valley tend to have a lot of well-maintained and decent teahouses.
Teahouses along less explored trekking routes are more basic and one might anticipate sleeping in a communal area. As a general rule higher in altitude, the more basic the lodge.
Here are the accommodations and facilities provided in a teahouse:
Each tea house has one sizable communal dining room with a wood stove in the middle. Some places even use yak-dung as a burner as it provides a great heat source. Trekkers usually meet in the place to eat, share stories and have personal time.
Private Rooms, Electricity and Wi-Fi
Teahouses provide rooms for the trekkers to unwind after a long day of the hike. It is rare to get a single room after Namche Bazaar. Most of them have a similar setup featuring two or three beds with a mattress along with pillows, blankets and sheets. Sometimes, it may get very cold at night, particularly at higher elevations, so a sleeping bag is necessary. The walls can be thin and fragile so it is highly recommended to carry earplugs to get a sound sleep as well.
The majority of tea houses will have basic electricity access for lighting and centralized plug points in the communal area for charging electronics. Most tea houses will charge a small amount to charge your devices.
Some teahouses have an internet connection and provide wifi hotspots at an extra charge. However, the speed of the internet may be quite slow and it is often recommended to purchase data plans on mobile phones. Mobile Network is fairly cheap and available in most of the regions on the Everest Base Camp trail.
Typical Foods in Teahouses
A wide variety of substantial foods and drinks are offered by tea houses along the most well-known trekking routes. A warm cup of black tea with sugar is often the first thing you’ll be offered at a tea house. It’s the ideal way to unwind if you’re hiking in the rain, snow, or wind.
The owners commonly cook meals over an open fire in the kitchen. While much of the food is delicious, particularly Nepali staples like Daal Bhat, the quality of Western-style dishes varies greatly.
In most of the teahouses, the breakfast menu is quite simple. It includes tea, coffee, hot chocolate and juices as drink options, eggs, sausage, toast with butter/jam, corn flakes, porridge, and pancakes.
The lunch and dinner menu includes noodles, pasta, sandwich, soups and some typical Western dishes like pizza may be found in lower altitude areas. The most common Nepali food is “Dal Bhat” which roughly translates to lentils and rice. However, it also includes curry, some form of meat, vegetables and pickles. It is considered the national dish as most Nepalese people consume it every day.
All the food ingredients in the EBC trail are transported from Lukla or Phalpu through mountain yaks or porters. The food is scarce in upper regions and hence it is quite expensive compared to normal restaurants.
Toilets and Showers
All teahouses are equipped with either western-style toilets or squat toilets which is very common in Nepal. The higher the altitude, the more likely it is to be a squat toilet. Typically the toilets don’t have any flushing mechanics so one has to rely on a bucket of water. It is highly recommended to carry toilet papers and hand sanitizers.
Showers with hot water are only available at lower altitudes. At remote teahouses, one can pay money for a bucket of hot water to clean up.
Famous places for Tea Houses on the EBC trek
One of the famous destinations along the EBC trail, Namche bazaar, is full of teahouses. Some even compare it to Thamel of Kathmandu. It is the largest Sherpa town with rich cultures and traditional teahouses. One can even get hot cappuccino and pastries in this region. The Hotel Everest View is a luxurious five-star hotel that costs up to 350 USD a night. The view of Everest can be seen from the window of this hotel and it boasts being the highest-altitude hotel in the world. This place also features a lot of budget tea houses with quality accommodations. However, it may be very crowded in the prime seasons.
The tea houses at Tengboche are quite famous for their surrounding monasteries and hospitality. While staying in Tengboche’s local lodges, you can attend morning prayers at the monastery. Also, listening to Buddhists humming in the morning will undoubtedly enchant you with new vibrations and peaceful feelings.
As you traverse upward towards Dingboche and Lobuche, the number of tea houses drops significantly. Almost every tea house will have a double-bed room with basic accommodations
and services. They may get crowded and you may have to share a room or even sleep in communal areas. As you go higher, the food options are limited and the halls may get crowded.
After reaching Gorakh Shep, the last accommodation place in the trail of EBC, only a few teahouses are available. The choices of food sharply decline as well. There is an option for expensive rooms with electric blankets and private bathroom facilities as well. As all travelers have to stay in a limited number of tea houses they might get crowded.
Some beneficial tips
The unique experience of trekking through tea houses in Nepal adds to the welcoming warmth that permeates the entire nation. Here are some useful tips regarding teahouses:
- It is highly recommended to trek with tour operators as they have detailed knowledge of the availability of teahouses and prior bookings.
- Power banks and solar chargers are necessary as teahouses may often have power outages.
- A lot of the tea houses have a “first come first serve” policy. So, if you want a quality room and food it is essential to reach the destination as early as possible.
- It’s fun to pass the time with cards and books, so make sure to bring some on your journey.