Paper & Tea

by James Glazebrook

Paper + Tea Berlin exterior

We were surprised to learn that there’s a dearth of good, exotic tea here in Berlin. We’ve always been impressed by the array on offer, varied in colour, origin and purported healing properties; it seemed to us that you can get everything except the bog-standard black stuff that we Brits think of as tea. But that’s before we were given an education by Jens de Gruyter of Charlottenburg boutique Paper & Tea. Inspired by his Asian travels, the French Canadian is on a mission to bring fine and rare teas to the German capital, and to break down the barriers around the beverage.

Paper + Tea Berlin interior

The P&T store is a dramatic step beyond the traditional apothecary model, as teas are no longer hidden behind a counter but presented in an open and informative setting. Tea fanatics can browse the beautiful boutique at their leisure, choose to consult one of the many friendly experts, or indulge in a demonstration at one of the tasting stations inspired by the traditional Chinese GongFu ceremony.

Paper + Tea Berlin tasting station

De Gruyer introduced us to a China White (Pu Er Bai Ya) picked from 2-300 year old trees, which lend it a resiny “salad” taste, and a Taiwan Oolong (Oriental Beauty) which is something of a national treasure – produced by the first of their farmers to go organic and oxidised on the leaf by the bites of an insect called the green leafhopper. As well as a new-found appreciation for the beverage, we learned some interesting facts: did you know that the water used to steep tea need not always be boiling, and can be as cool as 50°C for some Japanese varieties?

Paper + Tea Berlin  white tea

Before Jens sends you away with your new favourite tea in a plain packet (“you’re buying the tea, not the packaging”), be sure to browse the pottery and paraphernalia produced by Asian artisans, and a stationery section to rival RSVP in Mitte. You don’t need to accept that both paper and tea are “agents of culture” to appreciate cards, calendars and other items made by Korean manufacturers and Berlin artists, some commissioned by P&T themselves.

Paper + Tea Berlin stationery

While we’ll remain those rare Englishmen that prefer coffee to tea, we think that Paper & Tea does for its commodity what Frau Tonis Perfume do for theirs: elevating appreciation of the product and its production, and creating an enjoyable, enlightening shopping experience. Take your mum.

Paper + Tea Berlin equipment

Paper + Tea Berlin green tea

Paper + Tea Berlin equipment close-up

Paper + Tea Berlin high mountain

Paper + Tea Berlin James

Music Montag: Booka Shade

by James Glazebrook

"BS_003.jpg" by eike koenig under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

“BS_003.jpg” by eike koenig under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Booka Shade are back! One day, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll tell you about how the Berlin duo were the soundtrack to our first visit to the city; how listening to them now takes us back to so many precious times and places; how “Mandarine Girl” reminds us of countless stellar DJ sets (including mine); how “In White Rooms” and “Regenerate” are still among our favourite tracks; how the strings version of “Night Falls” was our wedding march. Some other time… for now I’ll just tell you that their excellent new EP Haleshop is out today, on limited edition hand-stamped white vinyl, and that they’re announcing new live European dates all the time – go to bookashade.com to find out about both pieces of great news!

Vinyl Giveaway: Win Wax from Tolcha

by James Glazebrook

Neustadt still

[EDIT: this competition is now closed. Click here to see if we’re running any open competitions] 

Kraut Dub: has there ever been a sweeter combination of words? How about: free vinyl? Tolcha, the Berlin-based acoustic/electronic four piece, have given us two copies of their new album, on limited edition vinyl, to give away. They describe Neustadt as “an ever evolving future-vintage sci-fi movie score with a hint of film noir and a heavy dub signature.” And, as if that didn’t sound awesome enough, the music also inspired a film noir short (shot by the Polacos film collective) which can only be seen in full during Tolcha live shows. Watch this sneak peek, and scroll down for details about how to win the soundtrack on wax. If you’re not lucky enough to win a copy, find out where to buy it (and the digital release, out tomorrow) on tolcha.de.


Leave a comment below, telling us who you’d like to play you in a film noir about your life.

You have until 6pm tomorrow, Tuesday 15th January, to enter. Good luck!

The Boring Bit (yawn, RULES):

1. You must be 18 years or older to enter.
2. We will keep a record of each comment in a database and then a random number generator picks the winner.
3. We will announced the winners via our Facebook page on Wednesday 16th January.

Sexpat and the City: The Part Time Boyfriend

by Guest Blogger

Sexpat and the City logo

New year, new Sexpat. This time, we’re taking the novel approach of getting a woman to write about the trials and tribulations of dating in the city… So let Lucy vs. The Globe be your wing-woman as she trawls the bars, clubs and caffs of Berlin, looking for fresh meat! Or something. First up: she explains the concept of the Part Time Boyfriend.

Many moons ago (over a year, obviously it’s almost an eternity) I wrote about the concept of having a Part Time Boyfriend. This mostly came out of frustration for the dating “scene” in the United States and the comparative ease I felt when wanting to roll around with someone in Australia.

Having just moved to Berlin, I am finding that I want to revisit this concept and it’s proving to be equally as confusing/finicky here as in the US. You see, the problem is – the Germans, they aren’t biting. I arrived into Deutschland with a mostly Part Time Boyfriend. This, however, very quickly turned into a no-time boyfriend. And over six months later I’m still struggling to find a semi-permanent solution to singledom.

The major differences I am finding with the Berliners:

  1. The Deutscher dudes don’t care – Germans are more asexual than the typical San Francisco hipster. It’s not that I want to roll around all the time – but you would think that Germans never do. To be honest – they either masturbate a lot or don’t like rolling. I think the difficulty of this comes from the fact that casual chit chat in a bar is a foreign concept, which obviously makes the pash-and-dash frightfully difficult. I am a reasonably attractive femme, I don’t seem totally crazy upon first encounter, and I’m kind of interesting… YET! It’s somewhat of a laborious task to find a guy on the semi-regular to get around.
  2. German Guys consider their options. Something about them screams, “I don’t throw caution to the wind, I want to hook up with the person I am eventually going to settle down, have babies, buy a stroller, get a sausage dog, and move to Prenzlauer Berg with.” I’m 28 – I don’t want any of these things (lies – I want the dog, I will call it Howard). To be honest, I just wanna kiss your face for an evening, and possibly repeat 2-3 times a week. So stop questioning if kissing me is a good idea – it’s only temporary. It’s not, like, forever.
  3. You only meet guys through friends and then you are friends for like ever until something happens – fuck this. I mean, this is a really good vetting process for the more Full Time Boyfriend vibe – but I just moved here, I don’t have that many friends and I only want you Part Time. I really need for you Deutschers to step out of your comfort zone, talk to a random stranger (me) and be available for a few hours a week, or for an evening.

My answer to all of this is a Part Time Boyfriend. I’m not interested in meeting you through friends, being your mate for like two months, finding that it’s passed that point of jumping each others’ bones, and has become a bit like kissing your sister (if we took it there) and we are better off staying mates. I can’t get those less-than-sexy two months back and it’s all because of the German non-throwing-caution-to-the-wind faff. I just want to find someone who is fun, likes to do cool shit and only wants to hang out a couple of times a week, while kissing on park benches and in the dark corners of bars.

The reasons I am not shooting for a (full time) boyfriend is because I really don’t want to have to answer to someone as to where I am, what I am doing, how my day was – unless I really want to. And to be (Anne) frank that level of commitment is not in my vocabulary – at all.

"Wonder, Stevie - 30 - Part Time Lover - D - 1985" by Klaus Hiltscher under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

“Wonder, Stevie – 30 – Part Time Lover – D – 1985” by Klaus Hiltscher under Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

When I’ve spoken with people about all of this the first thing that comes up is: So – you want a fuck buddy? (Sorry Mum if you are reading this). Friends, readers, people that are still unsure as to why they are reading – that is the exact opposite of what I want. A Part Time Boyfriend is not a fuck buddy – this is a crass phrase and it deserves very little attention to start with. But secondly a Part Time Boyfriend needs to cover a few extra bases:

  1. You need to at least sort of like a Part Time Boyfriend/want to hang out with them. If you are solely going into this because you only want to roll, full stop – go to Sexpo. This is about box-ticking – it’s about having a mate to get brunch with and it’s about rolling > at the same time. Obviously – not at the EXACT same time, but you know what I’m saying.
  2. With point 1 in mind, you really don’t want to have to run your entire life by this person. The reason they aren’t your Full Time Boyfriend is so you can have a life – be a onesy, live a somewhat selfish existence, run to the beat of your own drum. With all the benefits of a twosy.
  3. This brings us onto our third point – the benefits of a twosy. The ones you want in a Part Time Boyfriend are: Having a +1 for concerts. On a Sunday – having someone to get food with when everything is on lock down in Europe and all your mates are hung over/still at Berghain. On occasion, having someone think you’re pretty – infrequently, but often enough that you feel special.

There is no real downfall to the Part Time Boyfriend – unless:

  1. You fall in love. Then that really ruins the part-time element of it all. There are (however) a handful of upsides to being loved up, so it’s sort of a win-win… If it’s mutual.
  2. You get herpes. This is a less than an ideal result.

It is entirely possible that I’m a shallow bitch that really just wants an almost-boyfriend for all the worst reasons – but doesn’t everyone..? I mean come on – no one thinks they want a mate so that they have a BFF all the time, everywhere they go – all of that just develops. What we all (initially) strive for is a handsome handbag that socially validates.  However – if you are in fact going into this process of looking for dudes with the wedding dress, the babies and the stroller at the forefront of your mind – is it surprising you are still single?

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Music Montag: Hasta la otra México!

by James Glazebrook

Can you believe this was filmed an hour north of Berlin? The sweet new video from Hasta la otra México! has got us longing *hard* for summer, and a little depressed that we’re months away from decent lake weather. Described as “Sigur Rós with a French accent”, Hasta… is the former solo project of Ansgar Rudolf, started in Berlin in 2007, that has since grown into something bigger and more collaborative. While you’re here, check out their former Vimeo Staff Pick, a time lapse video that was chosen by NASA as “Astronomy Picture of the Day”. Cosmic.

túrána hott kurdís by hasta la otra méxico! from Till Credner on Vimeo.

Boros Art Bunker

by James Glazebrook

Boros Art Bunker outside

Berlin is a city that hides its charms well, and the Sammlung Boros “art bunker” is one of its finest hidden gems. Behind an unmarked steel door set into the 3m-thick wall of a blank concrete cube, on an otherwise unremarkable street, is one of the best private collections of contemporary art in the world. The above-ground bunker on Reinhardtstrasse in Mitte, which once sheltered an estimated 3,000 wartime Berliners, now houses one-sixth of the art owned of Christian and Karen Boros, a rotating collection that is updated every four years. Photography is forbidden, except for in the reception area, so the only way to see inside is to reserve a space on a guided tour.

Boros Art Bunker neon light

While the Boros display impeccable taste in art, their bunker will delight history and architecture enthusiasts as well as aesthetes. Built in 1943, with 120 rooms across five floors, and a total area of 1,000 square metres, the building was intended for future use as a memorial to Germania – as evidenced by the superfluous detailing that decorates the exterior. During the Cold War, the GDR took advantage of its naturally cool (13°C) conditions and used it to store tropical fruit, earning it the nickname “the banana bunker”. And in the early 90s, the building housed one of Berlin’s most notorious techno clubs. The Boros’ five-year reconstruction left many telltale signs of the bunker’s past untouched, including glow-in-the-dark arrows intended to guide those sheltering from bombs and the flaking black paint that denotes the former club’s dark rooms.

Boros Art Bunker detail

Those who go to the bunker for the art won’t be disappointed either. Speaking entirely subjectively, the Boros’ second exhibition includes the best contemporary photography, painting and sculpture I’ve ever encountered. The current rotation seems handpicked for those preoccupied with death, darkness and other gothy themes (like us!), with highlights such as Dirk Bell’s intricate, amorphic drawings, Alicja Kwade’s experiments with material and noise and Michael Sailstorfer’s show-stealing installations: a racecar tyre constantly rubbing against a wall, filling the whole floor with the smell of burning blacktop, and myriad black rubber “clouds” originally designed to bring the Berlin weather to a Brazilian art fair.

Boros Art Bunker gold bars

If this enviable art collection isn’t enough to make you sick, just check out this Freunde von Freunden video of the Boros’ apartment on top of the bunker. While I’d happily kill the couple (and their son) to live like that, I’ll have to settle for visiting the building on a regular basis. One of the best things we’ve ever done in Berlin, and an ideal activity for these cold winter months. Go to there.

Boros Art Bunker telephone

Boros Art Bunker glass sculpture

Boros Art Bunker exterior detail

Boros Art Bunker exterior

Another Year in Berlin: überlin’s Highlights of 2012

by James and Zoe

Wow, what a year! It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Berlin two years – because it feels like we’ve lived here forever, yet sometimes it’s like we’ve just stepped off the plane. That’s the enduring freshness of love, I guess. Too sappy? Then maybe we’ll just skip to our highlights of 2012: our favourite moments and places, most awesome blog posts, and all the other (furry) little things that made the year our best yet.

überlin's highlights of 2012: January

The Loxx Miniature Railway version of Berlin is probably the city’s best-kept secret, or at least it was until our photos ended up on the front page of The Guardian website. Small world(!) – on our second visit to the mini-Berlin on top of Alexa mall, we ran into Dave from the blog Andberlin – who also named Loxx as one of his highlights of the year. This is the perfect place to go on a rainy winter’s day.

überlin's highlights of 2012: February

To celebrate Zoë’s birthday we went to Stockholm and Copenhagen and while we were there, visited the most beautiful and inspiring place we’ve ever been. Looking back at our post about the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, I feel like my words fail to live up to Zo’s stunning photos, and even those can’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the museum and its coastal environment. We thoroughly enjoyed our short time in Scandinavia, but the Louisiana was the hands-down highlight.

überlin's highlights of 2012: March

The first of our articles to appear on The Guardian, 5 Apps Berlin Really Needs, was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the buzzy, bubbly startup capital of Europe. Our iProtest app concept gamified civil disobedience, while Angry Berliners turned German bureaucracy into an addictive platform game. Our Buskamatic app aside, March was a great month for music – Modeselektor released the iconic video for their “Berlin” anthem, and we discovered Big Stu’s comedy rap tributes to Hühnerhaus and Kottbusser Tor.

überlin's highlights of 2012: April

Our personal highlight of the year has to be getting our hands on this little ball of cute. In fact, Olive is probably many readers’ main reason for visiting the blog – we might be better off training her to work a camera and a laptop and leaving her to it! The unofficial überlin mascot, Big Ö is recognised way more frequently than we are, and has turned up in the unlikeliest of places – including an Instagram tutorial video and a conversation with a Bully-obsessed stranger at my cousin’s wedding (“you own Olive the dog?!!!”). Apart from welcoming our fuzzy daughter to the fold, we also ate the meal of the year (with matched cocktails!) at Rollin Restaurant.

überlin's highlights of 2012: May

If our May pick was a movie it would be the überlin prequel, Escape from Newcastle. While our home toon stands for everything we hate (or is that the other way around?), we still have a soft spot for the football-loving Stella-downing lads and lasses we grew up with – something we hope came across in our “origin story”, From Geordie Shore to Germany. Back in Berlin, visiting friends introduced us to the Ramones Museum, the only such institute devoted to the Detroit proto-punks in the whole world, the personal collection of a Berliner who must be their greatest fan.

überlin's highlights of 2012: June

It might seem obvious, but our What I Know about Germans post is like David Hasslehoff’s “Looking For Freedom”: ubiquitous, infectious, and every German loves it ;). Credit for our “greatest hit” actually goes to writer Liv Hambrett, for her keen observations about her adopted countrymen, and illustrator Mischief Champion who’s busy bringing them to life for WIKAG – the book! Photo op of the month (year?) had to be Berlin Gay Pride 2012 – so many queers! So many colours!

überlin's highlights of 2012: July

It seems like a long time since Zoë spent a boiling Berlin Fashion Week maximising her time in the air-conditioned tent, and occasionally popping outside to photograph slebs like Fashionbloggerin Miggy. Lucky for us, she braved the heat long enough to get these impressions of Berlin Fashion Week SS13.

überlin's highlights of 2012: August

While Peaches was never exactly a reason for moving to Berlin, we’ve never been able to think about the city without picturing her merkin. Since we arrived, we’ve been lucky enough to see her twice: “doing herself” live on stage and orchestrating a protest/video shoot in support of Pussy Riot. We weren’t the only starstruck fans following this freak parade into Mauerpark, and it was impressive to see Ms Nisker whipping up a storm to publicise an important – and still ongoing – cause. Less colourful, but no less eye-opening, was guest blogger Russell Dornan’s look behind the closed doors of Berlin’s Natural History Museum.

überlin's highlights of 2012: September

You Know You’re a Berliner When… you pose for a photo pretending the TV Tower is your penis, which then becomes a lightning rod for critics of hipsters, expats and archisexts (I made this one up). Having regular “Berlinergasms” was just one of 11 sure-fire signs that you’ve become a Berliner, along with dancing in a U-Bahn station and witnessing at least one daily act of crazy. Zoë saw more craziness at London Fashion Week SS13 – here is just a taste.

überlin's highlights of 2012: October

October was a month of light and dark. The gloomy nights provided the perfect backdrop for the Festival of Lights and (we think) our animated GIFs were the perfect demonstration of the event’s kaleidoscopic displays. Far less joyful was Berlin Crawling: 10 Halloween Horror Films, a list of creepshows shot here in the Haupstadt, ranging from the slick (the neo-Giallo short Yellow) to the just plain sick (corpse love story Nekromantik).

überlin's highlights of 2012: November

We’re so glad Phia agreed to be the first subject in our series of Berlin portraits. We’d heard the Australian singer/songwriter/thumb-pianist at an intimate concert in a fellow musician’s house, and loved her stories and songs about her granddad, a Berliner, and what it meant to live in his hometown. We spent a beautiful, crisp day discovering her Berlin, and sharing our love for the creative, open city we now call home. Oh, and we celebrated two years of überlin/living in Berlin!

überlin's highlights of 2012: December

As we entered our third winter in Berlin, we thought we should share the survival skills we’ve picked up with expats who’ve recently arrived from warmer climes. With the help of Josh Bauman’s awesome caricatures of us (and Olive!), our more-or-less practical tips about How to Survive a Berlin Winter helped to restore calm among the panicky sun-botherers freaking out at the first sight of snow. I wonder if anyone’s quit their job or grown a beard on our advice? And giving away €250 of Berlin-themed swag was a great way to end another awesome year of überlin.

Join us in 2013 for more Berlin love and LOLs. Happy New Year!