Coffee is everywhere you look, so much so that coffee culture is practically embedded in pop culture. With such an emphasis on coffee, it may come as a shock that tea is in fact more popular; it is the second most-consumed drink in the world, right after water, of course.
As a coffee games journalist, I’m always keeping my eyes open for caffeinated games, now including games highlighting tea. Unfortunately, searching for the phrase “tea video games” brings up some dubious results (thanks, Halo players), when compared to searching “coffee video games.” There’s a distinct gap between the two and this is true in the number of titles revolving around tea. So finding a good-looking, worthwhile tea game can be difficult.
Thankfully, tea games are starting to sprout up across the indie scene. Known for its cozy games, Whitethorn Games, who published Calico, has also published the ultra-cute game for tea lovers, Teacup.
The Way of Tea
Teacup is a gorgeous narrative game about a shy frog on an adventure to find tea just in time for her tea party. Developer Smarto Club has blessed us with a sweet story full of wholesome moments. (Surprisingly, Teacup is their first published game.)
Coffee and tea games are typically relaxing (with the exception of this one) and Teacup follows suit. Playing as Teacup, our little froggy pal, you set off into the forest in search of tea and ingredients for a get-together with friends. Finding what you need is only possible by talking to the various characters found throughout the game. She’d rather stay home and read manga but wants to have the best tea party possible, so she musters up the courage to go outside. Giving major introvert vibes, you can tell Teacup is a little uncomfortable with talking to the townsfolk, but getting outside of her comfort zone is worth it in pursuit of delicious tea.
The game itself is relatively simple, letting you focus on the scenery and story. Equipped with a tea encyclopedia and map, Teacup must find various teas, herbs, and sweeteners. The order in which you find them is up to you. Finding each item requires you to help out townsfolk by trading favors in the form of fetch quests and mini puzzles. You help them, you get tea. From finding magic powder, taking a manga order to the post office, and running coffee to festival-goers, Teacup gets out of her comfort zone all in the name of tea.
Plus tea fanatics can feel good knowing Smarto Club knows their tea and slips in tea brewing methods and recipes in the game’s encyclopedia. I like that the recipes are not just filler text as in some games, but an actual guide to creating different teas and treats.
Simple Vanilla Cookie Recipe
Teacup’s tea guide includes a recipe for simple vanilla cookies, and as any good journalist would do, I had to investigate further. They were very easy to make, and I am happy to report the in-game recipe yields about twenty small and very delicious cookies. I pretty much followed the recipe as seen above, except for running out of vegetable oil and resorting to olive oil (don’t judge me, they are still tasty) and baked ‘em at 375F.
The cookies pair very well with tea, including my tea of choice: hibiscus rosehip (technically a tisane). Did I mention they are vegan? Well, they are! Kudos to Smarto Club. Now you’re set up for success to have your own little tea party.
If you want to learn more about the various teas from the game, you can do so by downloading Teacup’s Tea Guide from Smarto Club’s website.
There’s a lot to appreciate about this game. The beautifully illustrated scenery, character design, and the smooth piano soundtrack by Juan Ignacio Ferrari come together in a story about challenging yourself. Teacup at the end of the game is still the quiet, shy frog she was at the beginning, but I’d like to believe that she has grown all while staying true to herself.
Teacup holds a special place in my heart. Even though the game can be “beaten” in the span of two-ish hours, it’s a satisfying and relaxing play that I would recommend to those looking for a really chill game that appreciates the way of tea. I don’t usually replay games that I review, but Teacup has something about it that makes it a great game to play and replay when you want a calm video game that you can lose yourself in.
If you want more of Teacup you can play the prequel Little Pond here.