REI-Vietnam News

Tea Talk Cafe Opens in Hanoi

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: Tea Talk Cafe Opens in Hanoi
Jacqueline Ong Enjoys High Tea With Friends

History and Development of the Project

Michael, a Social Worker from Singapore, first came to Hanoi in 2001 to help build a Social Work curriculum at the University of Labor and Social Affairs. While still in Hanoi in 2007 he applied for and was offered a full scholarship by the McDonnell International Scholar Academy to the number one ranked social work program in the U.S., the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He took the course on social entrepreneurship while in this program. To get Michael's perspective on how the idea germinated, click on the Blog tab above and scroll down to the blog, Express Your Soul: Time for Tea.

It took Michael a couple of years to garner a support team, develop a business plan, and flesh out all the details to make Tea Talk a reality. Friends from Singapore, the U.S. and other countries have contributed money, kitchen items, tea cups and saucers, wall hangings and other things to make Tea Talk Cafe happen. Michael said that one of the best things about the project was the support of so many friends.

The contract for leasing the building for Tea Talk Café was signed on March 1 of this year. In just five and a half weeks the business was up and running. In those short weeks there was a flurry of excitement and activity as renovations were made, the kitchen set up, furniture purchased, walls painted and decorated, menus planned, staff hired, food tested, and voila!...Tea Talk Café opened for business. It was an amazing feat by some dedicated individuals.( See the work of the core group at After viewing the video, be sure to hit the arrow to return to this page to continue reading.

With this background, let’s take a closer look at Tea Talk!

Looking through window

Girl at Coffee bar

Servers Around bar

The Food Offerings

Delicious, home made food is a hallmark of Tea Talk. Along with tea or coffee, if you are looking for a snack, you can select from a large variety of baked goods. Jacqueline Ong, Michael's wife, supervises the baking. If it is a meal that you are after, you can order from delicious set breakfast and lunch menus. A very special high tea menu is offered at select times. Items for high tea include delectable tea sandwiches, scones, and assorted mini pastries plus a choice of tea or coffee.

sample dish

cake at window


Social Service Dimension of Tea Talk

While excellent food is of course a big piece of Tea Talk Cafe, Michael’s vision for Tea Talk Café goes beyond food. He wants the café to provide a safe, comfortable environment where friends meet for good food and meaningful conversations, but also where relevant social issues can be addressed. Through the introduction of mini dramas, issues that might otherwise be too difficult to discuss can be made more accessible. As this occurs, the social work students working at the café will have an opportunity to develop their skills as they interact with café patrons on these issues.

Tea Talk Café is already fulfilling Michael’s dream in the social services dimension. One hundred thirty people have signed up for a Talk Show on “20’s and Crisis” on Saturday, May 11. Michael said that they are also beginning to counsel families and individuals. They have had to turn some away already due to lack of manpower.

kids at music program


Help for Tea Talk Cafe Still Needed

While Tea Talk Cafe is still in its fledgling stage, help is still needed and welcomed! Floor one of the café is open, but two more floors need to be developed. If you would like to help Michael make Tea Talk Cafe with a social service emphasis a success, he would be very appreciative. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By the way, if you are in Hanoi, stop in at the Tea Talk Café (House no:9, Lo 1G, Trung Yen 11C, Trung Yen, Cau Giay, Ha Hoi, Viet Nam) and enjoy some great food, meet some great people and who knows you might learn something about social issues in Vietnam!!!

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