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Tea Time

TeaJean Wu came to Columbus in 1998 on a ROTC scholarship with the United States Navy. Her husband was an international student who graduated from OSU and was working with Accenture-managing consulting firm. Together, they started working on an entrepreneurial concept back in 2000, and two years later they executed the idea – ZenCha Tea Salon.


ZenCha Tea Salon was created as a hub for people who have an international background or have an interest in cultural commonality among diversity. “The drive for the concept really derived from a bunch of friends who were international students at the time,” Wu says. They all saw the same niche for Columbus. A city that lacked tea/coffee shops or casual eateries where they could hangout and chat.


“All the places available at the time (1998-2002) either were too expensive, too corporate, or too loud. My husband and I started to expound on that idea [opening a tea salon] and wanted to create an inviting, yet affordable casual hangout that reflected our cultural heritage and connected the international community with the main stream community in Columbus,” Wu explains.


ZenCha has now been a staple for Columbus as an inviting space for conversation and tea lovers. The store’s success in the Short North also led the way for a second location in Downtown along Gay Street.


IMG_3752Wu talked about how her favorite part of developing ZenCha has been using the business as a platform to engage Columbus’s international community. “Compared to the East Coast where I grew up, and West Coast where I worked with USN, Columbus seems like it was lacking in cultural diversity at first. But with the business you quickly realize how diverse Columbus is and the opportunity to work with the cultural community on events has been quite rewarding,” Wu says.


It’s that sense of community that allows ZenCha to host diverse events. Coming up, the tea salon will collaborating with organizations like Columbus Soup and Carpe Diem String Quartet.


Still, the heart of ZenCha is its impressive tea list, which offers an array of Eastern and Western teas. As well as food options and a notoriously popular weekend brunch menu. And while ZenCha’s best sellers are chais and bubble tea, Wu gave Cbus Chic some recommendations that’ll keep you feeling great – especially during this fall and winter.



Wu tells us, “From a health perspective, teas and herbs (tisanes) are always good for you. But exclude milk and sugar, of course. As the temperature gets cooler, I recommend teas with ginger and cinnamon for their warm properties.”


ZenCha’s community and tea selection makes them a hub of conversation and culture. Stop into either of their two locations or visit them online at Be sure to follow the tea salon on Facebook and Twitter: @ZenChaTeaSalon.

And if you can’t stay for a cup, you can always brew at home; retail teas are always buy 3 get 1 free.