kristy holland

C offee-house dates? Totally cliché -- not to mention that Boulder's coffee-house venues (I'm talking to you Laughing Goat and Folsom Street) have meat-market scenes comparable to some of Boulder's most-happening bars.

But the problem with the cliché is that things are cliché for a reason; sipping a hot cup of joe with a love interest is soothing-yet-energizing, intimate-yet-casual, inexpensive-yet-classy. In short -- a coffee-shop is a great setting for a date.

But how can you get all the good stuff about a coffee-house date without suggesting a ho-hum visit to a crowded café? Well, lucky for you, Boulder's plethora of upscale beverage joints doesn't just extend to coffee and beer. This hippie-chic town also has deep roots and cool venues when it comes to tea.

On this wintery weekend, head to one of these hot-water-infused spots with a girl you'd like to impress for a hot cup of comfort and some cool conversation.

For the tea spot with the most attitude, head to The Boulder Dushanbe Tea House (1770 13th St.; boulderteahouse.com). This tile-covered and carved-column-supported structure -- donated by Boulder's sister city, Tajikistan's capital city, Dushanbe -- serves an eclectic menu ranging from a duck salad with udon noodles ($13) to Mexican-style braised pork served with tortillas ($16), and a more affordable snack menu, too. In addition to 100 hand-processed teas they also serve herb-infused cocktails and put on a traditional English-style tea service complete with cucumber sandwiches that's a fun diversion if you're looking for an excuse to dress up.


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Want something a little more casual? Head to Pearl Street's Ku Cha House of Tea (1141 Pearl St.; kuchatea.com), which specializes in small-farm, Chinese-style teas like yellow "silver needle," blooming florals, mellow oolongs and the earthy-tasting fermented pu-erh varieties (as fun to look at as they are to drink, trust me). Alongside hundreds of tea-making trinkets and pots, you can mix your own blends of herbs to create something unique -- with the help of the knowledgeable staff -- or just sample tried-and-true varieties for sale. Stay and enjoy a cup, or take your booty (by that, I mean, the tea you purchased, not your date) home.

For more of a destination event, drive to the home-grown tea-industry giant Celestial Seasonings (4600 Sleepytime Dr.; celestialseasonings.com) for a tour of their 1.6-billion-bag-a-year production facility. The 45-minute tours start every hour (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday) and, though the experience is a tad hokey in a tourist-town sort of way, it's also a must-do for anyone who calls Boulder home for a semester (or eight). When you get to the tasting gallery at tour-end, opt for the Ginseng Energy, Morning Thunder or an energy-booster like the recently-introduced shots (I recommend the Pomegranate Xtreme ENERJI Green Tea Energy Shot), which have energy-enhancing ingredients like maté and ginseng that'll keep you conversing for hours.

OK, OK. So you want a more traditional coffee-shop, sit-down-and-chat vibe? Skip the meatmarket scene on Pearl and opt instead for a more relaxed vibe like at Pekoe sip house (there's one in the Atlas Building on Campus, but opt for the 1225 Alpine Ave. location instead; pekoesiphouse.com). The place is, after all, named for a grade of high-qulaity tea -- pekoe -- and with a handful of tasty brews including the jelly-ball-infused style called boba, this place has a hip vibe that's mellow enough to let your personality shine through on a get-to-know-you outing -- even when you're not wearing skinny jeans.

Kristy Holland writes about date-night ideas once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com.