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Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar, Charlottesville, Va

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Friends, let me save you the trouble.
You're welcome.
The Twisted Branch is located off a pedestrian mall that is the social center of downtown Charlottesville: Down a hallway, left then and up the stairs, so the name is apt. Once there, I saw a sign for ordering, (no table service I guess) So I asked about the shisa they had in stock. The "Take your order" employee didn't know much (ie.. anything. washed/unwashed or brand?), so he handed me the box to read....Nothing says "Service" like tossing an empty Al-Waha box to the customer. My spider-sense was tingling at this lack of knowledge, but I desperately wanted to find a local hookah hangout, so I doggedly forged ahead. There were very few other people there; I guess most of Charlottesville is much smarter than I am.

They had small selection of flavors in stock, I settled on a pretty basic Roman double apple and a pot of White Monkey tea.

Pay up front, tip up front. (I love being asked to tip before any service is actually rendered, btw).


I sat down to wait, trying to read a local paper and soak up the "ambiance". For "Music", they were playing a recording of the sounds a cat makes while being skinned alive slowly using primitive bamboo tools, while someone read Vogon poetry out loud. I wish I could find that CD for my next Halloween party, or if I ever have an emergency need to induce a vomiting in a vulture.

My ears still hurt. The sounds were so bad my ancestor's ears hurt. (Sorry, Great-Uncle Josephus).

The tea showed up first. I say "Tea", in that it was hot water in a pot with a bag-o-leaves. That is where the similarity to "Tea" ended. It tasted like hot water. I let it steep for another 15 minutes while I waited for my pipe, and it amazingly, but not too surprisingly began to taste like luke-warm water. Good thing I shelled out $10 bucks for warm flavorless water, I'm so glad I'm enlightened. I wonder if it was my fault? Did I order "White Monkey Pee"?

Finally, the hookah arrives. The pipe itself was well over 30" tall, very nice, clean pipe. Maybe things were looking up? You wish.

My first draw resulted in a hot, harsh burning sensation on my palate: I checked under the windscreen and sure enough, there was one, single, rectangular block of coal, smack in the center of the screen. I tried to get the attention of the cooking droid, but evidently her duties were exhausted by bringing me the "tea" and she was now on "ignore" mode. Sans tongs, I tried to break up the coal, unsuccessfully, with the windscreen and salvage what I could from this "$18 pipe plus $1 per coal experience"

The remainder of my visit consisted of me drawing harsh, hot coal-flavored air from a very nice pipe with a very bad packing job, which I now knew was designed to, or via the hired help, facilitated the complete ruination of tobacco. After 30 minutes of not seeing any staff, I abandon the device and the cold "tea" water, and beat feat to the Second Street Brewery nearby, to try and cool my burnt mouth parts with copious amounts of "Devil's Pony", a much better way to spend my time and money. It would be three weeks and hundred of dollars worth of professional counseling before I'd go near a hookah again. I still can't look at a cat the same way used to.

In summary: Unfriendly, unpleasant, unknowledgeable, and expensive.

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I have no clue why you stayed at a place that charges tip up front. Thats the craziest thing ive heard in a while. sucks tho but hey how long can they really stay in business. entertaining write up tho!

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