The stretch of Mass Ave between Central and Harvard Squares is hallowed ground for sophisticated drinkers — whether their expertise is in wine, coffee, or a good pour. So far, however, tea — that is, serious tea that involves more than plunking a tea bag into a cup of boiling water — has been underrepresented. Dado Tea, inconspicuously settled into the ground floor of the 955 office building, fills that void ably, rewarding tea drinkers in their quest for ceremony with edible goods that meet high standards.
The menu at Dado (the name is the Korean pronunciation of the Chinese characters for " tea ceremony " ) seems to grow with every visit we make. It offers a handful of made-to-order sandwiches ($4.75–$5.25), available with hearty ingredients like a smear of hummus or organic mesclun mixed greens. The house specialty is vegetable bi-bim-bap ($7.95), the traditional Korean dish served with rice and hot bean paste. Dado’s baked goods, although not made in-house, reflect the café’s emphasis on quality: the breads come from Iggy’s, and the pastry is made by Somerville’s own G. Case Co.
But the real emphasis at Dado is obviously on the tea. With its soft papered walls, hardwood tables, and soothing music, the place cultivates an atmosphere of calm where one can truly enjoy the presentation and taste of the exotic drinks. Specialty teas reflect a Pan-Asian influence and include Indian chai ($3), Korean ginseng ($3.50), and Tibetan suma ($3.50), a brick tea served with butter, milk, and salt. Order loose tea by the pot ($3–$4) and receive not only the tray with the necessary hot water, bowl, cup, and teapot, but also a lesson for the uninitiated. Or, try a bubble tea ($3.50–$4), made with tapioca pearls, milk, and syrup.
The café also boasts a complete coffee bar for the less adventurous, but once inside Dado’s cozy environs, it’s hard not to be inspired by the shelves of tea artistry and the encouraging smiles of the staff.
Dado Tea, located at 955 Mass Ave, in Cambridge, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and on Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (617) 497-9061.