Trendy tea for 374 years and counting

Continuing on my quest for what would be considered a traditional Dutch tea, I visited & Zonnetje on the charming shopping street, Haarlemmerdijk. I had read that this tea and coffee shop dated back to the 17th century. So they should know!

The shop was a quirky mix of the old and the new. As if nothing is ever removed, but new things are layered on top of the old. Dented tin canisters of loose tea were tucked away on the highest shelf, or along the baseboards, freeing the accessible eye-level shelves for colorful boxes of contemporary teabags. The selection of tea pots, French presses, coffee grinders and tea cups of every shape and size was surprisingly vast for what felt like a tiny space.

The shopkeeper confirmed that Sterrenmunt, which mixes licorice root, with fennel, anise seed and mint, is a traditional Dutch favorite. He measured it out from one of the dented tins on the floor while gently pointing out that, in the Netherlands, hot cocoa is a respectable alternative to coffee or tea. He nodded towards a counter that held an assortment of Dutch cocoa powders. American cocoa powder has a slightly acidic tang, but “Dutch processed” brands such as Droste and Van Houten, make a smoother cup of cocoa thanks to an early 19 th century Dutch discovery on how to chemically neutralize the acidity of cocoa.

I waffled for a minute between the Van Houten Cocoa in a practical tin sporting Delft blue tones and the vintage red box featuring a Mona Lisa-esque nun in a white wimple. I bought them both.