It’s a challenge to think of many communal places in the city where one can find absolute calm, and good luck finding peace and quiet at anything resembling a coffee shop. Someone’s inevitably going to waltz in and play some bad folk music or talk well above normal conversation level about their Master’s thesis in who-the-hell-cares. Enter the newly made-over Ran Tea House. Once mainly dedicated as a private event space, it’s now a very grown-up co-working space by day and venue by night and weekend, complete with a fine selection of teas.
Our visit to Ran was totally zen: we sipped a tall glass of cold-pressed oolong tea, and sat for a minute at one of the long wooden tables, soaking up the bamboo flute music and natural light. General Manager Li Tang gave us a rundown of what’s changed at Ran since the grand re-opening on June 20.
Maybe they took note of the lackluster Yelp reviews by people complaining the place was “NEVER open,” because now Ran is a full-service tea house open seven days a week. The biggest change, however, is the shift toward a small but fully equipped co-working space while becoming a more active event space. “The idea is that people can come here and work during the workdays and then showcase their work during the weekend,” Li explained. “It’s a more closely-knit workspace.”
There’s plenty of seating to get stuff done: long communal tables, a bar, wicker floor pillows, lounge chairs, and, of course, regular desks for co-working members. The space was renovated earlier this year, and basically has nicer finishes, and fewer shades of white and beige.
Ran’s also selling a large selection of traditional tea gear that Li said was sourced from China: fine pots, trays, cups, saucers, and runners in hues like robin egg and charcoal. Like fine tea, it ain’t cheap: one admittedly lovely hand-held beige pot will cost you $250. If you’re in the market, remember you’re also going to need to purchase a hammer so you can wack anyone who drops it.
For co-working space members, Ran offers individual desks, wi-fi access, professional printers, and basic studio equipment for photography including lighting and backgrounds. Oh, and members receive unlimited tea.
Li hashed out the different options for people looking to spend entire days at Ran getting work done. Day passes will cost you $19, full-time monthly passes go for $250, and there’s also a part-time pass that costs $180 for 10 days.
“But it’s also fine for people to come in and order a tea, sit down, and read for a couple hours,” Li said. We wondered if non-members could get away with buying a cup of green tea and loiter for several hours while avoiding eye contact with the workers, the classic broke-ass freelancer’s move. “We hope they’ll buy more than one tea,” Li said cordially.
Ideal clients for Ran’s co-working model, Li said, are “creatives, designers, young artists, and freelancers.” So far, a few photographers have signed up. But to attract more members the tea house is offering day-long free trials for anyone who’s on the fence about signing up.
While Ran will be co-hosting some events, including a concert at the end of July (stay tuned for deets), they’re also open for booking private and semi-private happenings. “All kinds of events are welcome,” Li said.
Ran Tea House is located at 269 Kent Avenue and is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 am to 8 pm, Friday till 10 pm, and Saturday & Sunday from noon to 10 pm.