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Best Tea in Los Angeles

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So I just finished reading the "Best Coffee in Los Angeles" thread and the mention of Peets made me curious. I don't drink coffee (got sick on it as a child) but as an avid tea drinker I have to say finding good tea is IMPOSSIBLE. I start just about every morning with a cuppa Irish Breakfast from Peets, but aside from that, I haven't really found a place (chain or no) that really knows how to serve a good cup (or pot) of tea. Any recommendations out there?

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  1. what part of town are you located in? I can offer several recommendations but I'm not sure how far you're willing to drive for a cuppa, or if you're going to be purchasing for at home consumption too.
    :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: peanut112

      I am in the Pasadena area, work in Downtown and travel all over heck and gone for work...so suggestions anywhere would be more than welcome. And home consumption is good, but I am not at home enough to really sit and enjoy a pot.

      1. re: magerber

        One good thing about Chado in Pasadena is their printed tea menu. Yes, they have a lot of the frou-frou blends, but they also have a plethora of other teas I'd never heard of. If you take the time to read through the tea menu, you learn a lot. (They let me keep mine, and I was able to expand my knowledge base) I then was able to get the kind of teas there that they don't often serve at the multiple wedding showers:-)

    2. Hmmm, so you may get to enjoy all LA has to offer.
      Tea Garden in Beverly Hills has a variety of the world's best loose leaf teas, but depending on what you want, you will pay through the nose for it. The owner is more than happy to sit and educate you if you have the time to sit down and chat.
      www.teagarden.com

      Elixer Tonics & Teas on Melrose is pretty good too, but that's more of a scene and more for frou-frou drinks.

      In Pasadena, there is the Bamboo Tea House at 700 E. Colorado which has around 100+ loose leaf teas for purchase, but you can't drink tea while there...at least not in a retail style setting.

      There's a lot of 'tea talk' recently in various publications like Food & Wine, so check those out because several LA places are mentioned, I just can't recall them off the top of my head.

      2 Replies
      1. re: peanut112

        Elixir is exactly the kind of place I don't want...this is the kind of "tea" store that isn't really tea-flavored tea as my mom likes to call it. I am looking for something that really is more like tea and less like weird herbal mixtures in hot water (not that there is anything wrong with that :-) )

        1. re: magerber

          i concur. It's very difficult to find a good pot of tea with a heated china cup and milk and sugar. paddington's is pretty good in that department. Urth cafe has a wonderful selection - my favorite is Monticello Afternoon Tea.

      2. Chado in Pasadena on Raymond is the best tea place around, both for loose tea and sit down. Tek is very knoweldgeable and friendly.

        1. Les Palais des Thes in Beverly Hills has the best selection of French teas for you to buy and take home. Jin Patisserie in Venice uses their teas in their chocolates. The shop has a small bar area where you can enjoy a cup of tea, but probably not the kind of place for hanging out in an extended period.

          For Chinese teas, Ten Ren runs several cafe-style shops under the name Tea Station or Cha For Tea. You should be able to find them in Alhambra and San Gabriel area.

          I don't like Chado tea room. Went there once, they made our tea too weak and watery.

          7 Replies
          1. re: WBGuy

            Ten Ren is my all-time favorite. My favorites include taro milk tea (they use fresh taro), apple green tea, and also the plum green tea. I always ask for my drinks with half the sugar, so it's not overly sweet.

            1. re: WBGuy

              I wasn't a big fan of Chado when I went there either. That is part of the reason I am asking here, because anywhere you read about tea Chado seems to be called out as the Mecca.

              1. re: magerber

                I will never go to Chado again.

                It's too hot for hot tea now anyway. For great iced tea, try Kelly's house iced tea at Kelly's Coffee Tea and Fudge at the mall in Arcadia(great sandwiches too!)

              2. re: WBGuy

                Oh, don't just try Jin Patisserie for the chocolates (they're not really chocolate as it was explained to me - they only look like chocolates, but they do have tea in them) go there for their Tea. It's has a nice garden. I had breakfast there once. I was the only customer there at the time. The trickling water was very inviting so I stuck around and leisurely enjoyed my tea and read my book for a spell. It's the kind of place you eat and drink in, not hang out in like say, Peete's or Starbucks. Things change over quickly on Abbott Kinney, but if this place is still there, and they were so good that I can't imagine they'd be gone, for tea lovers, this is a must. Fantastic Teas!! Amazing combinations - you gotta try this one.

                1. re: WBGuy

                  I posted earlier about finding a particular French The', and I hope you may know. A floral blend of violet & rose petals against black tea. Apparently Laduree' doesn't import, but would Palais have such a blend? JET

                  1. re: Jet

                    chado's has a rose tea that's very nice.

                  2. re: WBGuy

                    did you ask them to make it strong? did you ask the waiter to recommend a strong tea? did you let the waiter know you weren't satisfied? i was in chado recently with two friends. one friend ordered chai tea, not realizing it had milk, and when the waiter saw she wasn't drinking the tea, the waiter offered to get her something else. (she was too polite to complain.) she didn't like the next tea she ordered, so he offered to change it out for something else again. he ended up bringing her 3 different teas, and only charged her for one, even though he had made no mistake in processing the order. the waiters at chado's know the dozens of teas they serve and sell, and can recommend a tea for you. they use timers to steep the tea, and then remove the tea from the pot so it won't get "too strong". i tend to like my tea to get stronger, adding more water, so i've often asked them just to keep the tea in the pot. conversely you could ask them to steep it longer and make it stronger.

                  3. Scarlet Tea Room
                    18 W Green St, Pasadena, CA 91105
                    626 577-0051

                    tahitian blck tea is amazing!

                    1. I have to second the Les Palais des Thes (though it IS on the pricey side... being a France-based tea boutique in Beverly Hills) -- Jin Patisserie ( www.jinpatisserie.com ) uses this brand of teas in case you want a tasting ( they sell them there too, if you tasted something you like ).

                      Chado's also has a good selection, but go early since the tearoom is usually bustling in the afternoons and you probably won't get as much attention.

                      On-line, Island Rose ( www.island-rose.com ) has unbelievable vanilla rum tea (though it is bagged and not loose, which may turn off some tea-philes.

                      )

                      And Irish Breakfast is my favorite "traditional" blend too-- I love that extra maltiness.

                      And yea, Elixir's teas are a bit too modernized and the setting felt way too snooty/health-nuttish for me.

                      1. Magerber -- I posted on the General Boards: "Green Tea." I, too, am in Los Angeles and do not like most of the teas in the local shops. So, I decided to search on-line (with the assistance of some wonderful chowhound recommendations), and I have been ordering teas on-line from various tea companies around the country.

                        Most of these companies have sample packets that they will put together for you so that you need not make a major commitment until you learn what you like. I usually order about 15-20 sample packets (1 or 2 ounces each) and then taste and compare. I have found some wonderful teas this way.

                        I am glad to share further specifics with you if you wish. Let me know.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: liu

                          Hi Liu, I hadn't received much response to my post about where to obtain a certain tea. This lovely floral blend was a black tea with a complement of violet & rose petals. It was a gently sweet blend I drank at Laduree' in France. Thus far, no one is known to import it. May I get the names & contacts for these great tea importers/producers you have mentioned? In the meantime, I can still taste that poetic cup of tea like it was yesterday. Best, JET

                          1. re: Jet

                            Hi, Jet!
                            If you will, let's take this off-line. You can find my email on my "My Chow" page. Please mention Chowhound in the subject line so you won't get deleted.
                            See you there!

                        2. I love tea. All varieties of earl grey, chinese oolongs, etc. One of the best and most unusual places I've been for a real tea-centric experience is vintage tea leaf in long beach.
                          http://www.vintagetealeaf.com/
                          the place is strange, especially for a man. they are always having ladies tea parties (you can pick out big hats) and everyone gets to pick out what china they want to drink their tea out of. The teas are OUSTANDING. They make a couple funky blends - I seem to remember an earl grey with a dallop of jasmine, and serve trad. finger sandwiches etc. I hate mayo so those aren't really my thing, but the environment is great. I think youre supposed to call ahead. Sometimes they have more extensive food menus too, especially around the holidays.
                          the Tables have like five tablecloths on them and the owner is VERY stringent on how long tea should be brewed for and proper ways to make/serve tea etc. Even if you don't adopt her methods, her passion is admirable and EXACTLY what i want when i go into a food/ drinking establishment.
                          -----------------
                          more for purchasing tea than sitting and drinking it are shops in chinatown: some very nice oolongs available; i think it's a taiwanese co. that does the importing.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mr mouther

                            Good call, Mr. Mouther; another hidden gem in the near-Sahara that is Long Beach (hey, kidding about the Sahara part). I do think Vintage Tea Leaf is open without appointment some days, but the hours aren't regular.

                            1. re: Mrs Fang

                              I love Vintage Tea Leaf, infact, I'm drinking the Cherry Sencha now. They have a great selection of loose leafs sold by Oz. Another favorite off the beaten path Tea shops are Gourmet Essentials in Diamond Bar (She really knows her teas and has a great gourmet shop in general!) and Bamboo Teas in Claremont (although they also have a shop in Pasadena)

                              --Dommy!

                          2. I am a life-long tea drinker and have tried most varieties. The tea I love the best for my all-around brew is the loose Chinese tea called "China Lichee Black Tea" found in Asian markets in a red tin. It has wonderful flavor and no matter how long I let it brew, it never gets bitter or acidic tasting. I've also had good teas at Auntie Em's in Eagle Rock. There is also a tea room I discovered on Wilshire, about a block west of Western on the north side of the street. I did not try the tea there, but it seemed like a wide variety of tastings of green teas and a very charming shop.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: hpcat

                              Thanks, I bought to Lichee tea and I love it.

                            2. hpcat.....I too am I life-long drinker, but couldn't possibly claim I've tried most varieties, seeing as though there are over 10,000 teas that all stem from camelia sinensis :) but if you are close to that amount, I praise you! :)

                              The China Lichee Black is divine!

                              There are tea rooms/tea cafes all over K-town that are well worth the exploration, but I'm not familiar of the one on Wilshire you're speaking about.

                              I'm on the prowl.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: peanut112

                                Er, you're right about that...I have a long way to go in tasting all 10,000 varieties...but I've made a dent in it!

                              2. My BF was at Fashion Square aka Westfield in Sherman Oaks a few weeks ago and came across a new store that opened up called TEAVANA. They've got tons of teas, from white, to black to herbal to oolong, etc...and they also sell these pot things where you can brew 1 to 2 cups of tea. You put your boiling water in the pot w/your tea and it brews the tea for you. then you place the pot over your mug and voila!

                                anyway, he bought the peach white tea which is delicious! I love it! they let you sample the teas as well.

                                enjoy!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: coco puff

                                  I really didn't like Teavana. The prices are D: and the tea really... isn't that great. It isn't a place that I'd recommend to the straight tea drinkers because they emphasize too much on health benefits and "blends" and all those things. I personally prefer Ten Ren and the various shops in K-Town.

                                2. I think I may have found the best tea spot in LA (if you like Japanese green tea). Inspired by this thread, I was checking out http://www.teamap.com/ (a google maps mash up) for any tea places I wasn't aware of; I have always been hard pressed to find a places that served good quality Japanese or Chinese or Taiwanese green teas. I'm always suprised that even high end asian restaurants tend to serve mediocre teas. Anyway, I saw a place in Westwood called the Green Tea Terrace: http://www.greenteaterrace.com/ - not much info on the website unfortunately. The name was enough to motivate me to check it out. I ordered a Sencha, and was pleased when they offered some fresh 2006 harvest. It was prepared well (i.e. not too hot, so not at all bitter), grassy/earthy, and an awesomely deep green. They also had Gyokoru, genmeicha, matcha, iced greens, and some green tea boba concoctions that I am a little skeptical of. But the traditional tea selection was super. Only downside is that parking is a big pain in westwood. It's at 1037 Westwood Blvd.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: MrShoop

                                    This is always one of my stops when I am even vaguely in the area. I like their green tea lattes, iced or hot, with soy and no sugar. Their tea is so thick, "grassy/earthy" (as you so well describe, MrShoop) that it is almost like a meal in a cup. It is very distinct from anywhere else.

                                    For many years they have been talking about expanding, but it has yet to happen, and they are very secretive about their prospective location sites. I do hope they do!

                                    They do have the cards that they stamp each time you purchase, so that eventually (10 or 12 later) you will earn a free order.

                                    Indeed, it is a very worthwhile destination for anyone who enjoys green tea.

                                    1. re: liu

                                      Green Tea Terrace closed down.........this near killed me since I am a matcha fanatic. But I just found it again at Pasquale's Cafe at 5616 San Vicente Blvd. (at Hauser Blvd.) in the mid-wilshire/fairfax district area just south of the Grove and Farmer's Market.

                                      This is THE matcha -- high quality, bright green, fresh, thick, stone ground stuff-- not some powder/elixir fake!!

                                      1. re: cali_1

                                        cali 1 -- I, too, am still upset by the closure of Green Tea Terrace in Westwood. For me, their matcha with soy milk latte was a meal in a cup...quite delicious and unique. But I lament enough...let's talk more about Pasquale's Cafe. Is it a walk from the Farmer's Market?

                                        THE real matcha...I'm so excited! What exactly did you order? Do you know their hours?

                                        Thanks! I appreciate this find!

                                        1. re: liu

                                          Hi, liu - sorry for any delay in this response. I just got back over to Pasquale's to check things out a bit more. YES. They do have the matcha....They got a full order in this week, so I guess they'll have it regularly now.

                                          I talked to them about the quality and it's actually an ingredient grade which ultra conossieurs may not like but for ingredient grade it is definitely good and quite strong. Perfect coffee alternative and fitting for lattes and frapps. I know various grades of matcha by now and some of their qualities...this kind is a bright green with a little bite, full flavor, and strong buzz. They are keeping it in the refridgerator in an airtight container. That is a good sign.

                                          If you go in to have some you have to ask for it because it's not on the boards yet. They asked me how strong I wanted it, and then if I wanted a vanilla shot. I personally like it with half tsp. and yes with the shot of vanilla. So, just tell them what you want....like soy milk.

                                          From the Farmer's Market you'd have to go east on 3rd until Hauser (at the Coffee Bean), make a right go down Hauser till San Vicente and you'll see Pasquales on the south right corner, down from 7-11. You COULD walk it but it would take a little while.

                                          GOOD LUCK and tell me how it goes?!?

                                          1. re: cali_1

                                            Thanks for your update, cali 1.

                                  2. a great little place is aloha boba tea house. they carry over 50 loose teas brewed by the cup or pot. a real loungy hangout with free wifi and really good teas.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: sin

                                      Sin, Sin, Sin...sounds great...but where in the heck is it?

                                      1. re: magerber

                                        Aloha Boba Tea House
                                        666 West Huntington Drive
                                        Monrovia, CA
                                        626-303-2283
                                        http://www.teamap.com/tearooms/aloha_...

                                        In a large strip mall near Panda Express, Rubios, etc. They also serve Fosselman's ice cream.

                                        1. re: lileor

                                          lileor, please accept my apology - I knew someone posted re Aloha Boba in Monrovia; took their advice and went there today. Posted my experience before realizing it was you who guided me there. Thanks! P.S. the orange sherbet is yummy, next time the green tea ice cream.

                                    2. Magerber, another poster mentioned Boba Tea House in Monrovia. Stopped there today, was delighted with the selection of loose tea and Fosselman's ice cream and sherbet. This is in the Trader Joes/Mervyns/Bed Bath Beyond shopping center on Huntington Drive x Mayflower Ave. Parking is stellar and I live close by.

                                      Had a delightful iced black tea since I drink iced green at home and they have sample jars of various teas to smell. They have "Tea Tastings". Sign up and you get invited via e-mail to hot or cold tastings. Also took home a scoop of Fosselman's orange sherbet for later (they give samples) so I can sleep with heavenly thoughts on my mind. I'm not into the Boba since I ate Mom's tapioca pudding as a kid so someone else can be the judge of Boba's.

                                      Staff: A
                                      Tea Choice: A
                                      Cost: C+
                                      Experience: B
                                      Fun: B

                                      Thanks to the original poster of this tea house.

                                      1. I love the tea at guppy house. The milk tea is really good and their boba is the best.

                                        I also like the rose tea from TenZen Tea Station and the Almond Milk tea from tapioca Express, which there are an abundance in San Gabriel close to Pasadena.

                                        1. The scrumptious French-influenced patisserie and confectioners, Boule, located on La Cienega near Melrose carried what is, in my opinion, the very Ultimate in tea-- Mariage-Freres. Admittedly, I've been one 'spoiled' gal, first by Boule's wonderful selection, then by my first visit to Paris, i.e. shopping for tea at the Mariage-Freres shop in the Left Bank!
                                          I came back to find out Boule has discontinued the Mariage-Freres line, oh no! And just as I was planning to try the famed MF Marco Polo blend...
                                          But there IS this web site that I have been consoling myself with www.mariagefreres.com
                                          So practice your French and prepare to spend $$$$. But I promise, it's worth the money!

                                          Incidentally does anyone know of a place that sells Mariage-Freres in LA?!?

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: kyrienacht

                                            William Sonoma used to, I'm not positive if they still do. They did carry the Marco Polo blend.

                                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                              Williams Sonoma still carries Mariagefreres tea. I got a tin of the vanilla flavor there not long ago, but not sure that they have the Marco Polo.

                                              1. re: notmartha

                                                Saw that they have the Marco Polo at the Williams-Sonoma store at Newport Beach, CA. Call your local branch to check if still interested. It's $17 a tin.

                                            2. re: kyrienacht

                                              I see Mariage-Freres in odd places from time to time. Next time I see it, I will try to remember to post it here. I'm totally spoiled, because I was there in the spring and brought back no less than six different varieties, all of which have been superb. I'm normally not much for the fruity/floral blend things, but I have to admit that the "Pleine Lune" is really special. And if you like the famed Marco Polo Blend, they make it in a green tea blend now, too. There were two, however, that really stood out. One is called "Sultaine", and it is an unflavored black tea that is simply one of the best teas I've ever tried. I can't stop drinking it, and I'm going to have to pony up and pay thru the nose to get it on the website. The other was a special gift I bought for a friend, called "Fall In Love" tea, a special edition in this beautiful robin's egg blue tin. The closest thing I could describe it to is a mixture of vanilla and fresh pipe tabacco. Sooo wonderful. If you ever see it, by all means get it. (I think I may have just talked myself into another Paris trip...)

                                              1. re: french roast

                                                Pleine Lune is so good! I love Mariage-Freres teas. Try a google search-I think there's a website called markethallfoods that sells their tea as well as theculturedcup.com. I also really like (besides Marco Polo) the Eros tea.

                                            3. I'm sorry more people haven't suggested places for real tea conossieurs. I want a tea house that serves primarily chinese varietals and is formal in its presentation (yixing pots, aroma cups, etc.) For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_.... I would like a menu that has ten or more of each: oolong, black, green and perhaps white. Flavored tea or tea that is primarily drunk with milk (such as ceylon or orange pekoe) is a whole nother story.

                                              My hometown tea distributor is pretty darn good for another place to order online: http://harney.com/.

                                              1. I just ordered my Mariage Frères tea from the Pasta Shop in Oakland. They have the best selection I've seen in the U.S.

                                                http://www.markethallfoods.com/ and follow the "Teas" link.

                                                1. Hello everyone.

                                                  Thank you SO much, Tritip and BombayupwithaTwist for the very kind Mariage-Freres tips, you've saved me many euros in shipping!

                                                  I can't wait to explore the many different tea houses recommended above, as well. I'm tired of the Chado on Third street... and am needing something new.

                                                  kN

                                                  1. So just to update you all on my experience...based on this thread I decided to give Chado another try. My favorite tea of all is Irish Breakfast (I know...boring, but you can't help what you like). So I decided to branch out and go for the Assam teas (the basis for Irish Breakfast). Walked in and when I told the waitress I didn't really know what I wanted, and gave a general wave in the direction of the Assam page, she said "I know exactly what you want" and turned the page to another tea. I read the description and said "Well, sounds good, but I don't like...blah, blah, blah" Anyway it was only then that she said, "Well I usually recommend that because people seem to like it enough. Let me go ask my manager what he would suggest." Once I got the tea it was great, but if I hadn't been proactive, I probably would have been disappointed. And I had to ask to find out what tea it was she brought me in the end...she didn't tell me when she brought it. Doesn't seem like the kind of service I might have wanted...

                                                    They did serve a really yummy Souchang Chicken sandwich though...

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: magerber

                                                      Strange, usually when we went the person up at the counter seems to be pretty knowledgeable about teas. We normally get the loose leaf tea to brew at home rather than having a cup there.

                                                      I like the assam silver tips there, and also the chado breakfast. I don't care for their flavored teas, only the traditional unflavored blends.

                                                      My husband's favorite assam a while back is with Peet's. I think it's Assam golden tips (don't know if they still sell them).

                                                      If you like assertive teas you may like Yorkshire Gold. They are god-awfully strong but sometimes when I am in the mood it hits the spot.

                                                    2. Have you tried Jin Patisserie in Venice? They have a nice selection of teas and great chocolates and pastries. They have green, black, scented, and organic teas imported from France.
                                                      The little patio area is a nice area to relax and have tea.

                                                      http://www.jinpatisserie.com/

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: sumo10

                                                        Jin sells and serves teas from Le Palais des Thes line, which is one of my favorites. You could also go to the Palais des Thes *store* in Beverly Hills, where there are sometimes events such as scheduled tastings.

                                                        I wish Boule still had Mariage Frere...or that Scent Bar finally got to work things out with that notoriously demanding company (Mariage Frere has apparently an extremely strict policy of being sold exclusively at stores).

                                                      2. I wanted to mention Four Seasons Beverly Hills Afternoon Tea was a total disappointment... spent over $80.00 on tea for two for my husband's birthday. I went there because I had a totally lavish and perfect Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons in Dublin this spring. But oh boy, the Beverly Hills version was a total disappointment in comparison! My Earl Grey was virtually unidentifiable by smell, and watery too. The macarons were stale and ridiculously hard, the only positive thing was the tea sandwiches which were great. But the sweets and pastries and tea -- total thumbs down.

                                                        1. Has anyone been to T on Fairfax yet?

                                                          T on Fairfax
                                                          435 N Fairfax Avenue
                                                          323-782-0695
                                                          http://www.tonfairfax.com

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: yinyangdi

                                                            looking at the menu , seems to have the regular crap = not good, real teas.
                                                            good thing theyre organic otherwise price might be lower...

                                                            1. re: S N

                                                              While I'll admit I'm not a tea connisseur like some, I do drink it every morning, and in T on Fairfax's defense, the monkey picked white, which I had just for the goof of it, turned out to be the most extraordinary subtle, different, and wonderful cup of tea I've ever had. Plus, they were extraordinarily nice. Not at all pretentious, like at Chado, et al. While I didn't eat anything, it sure looked good, too -- quite an interesting sandwich menu.

                                                            2. re: yinyangdi

                                                              I have been to T on Fairfax and I have to say I really like the place. The tea menu is very extensive IMO, I had a white tea which I enjoyed very much. I also had a fabulous french-press decaf (they don't make your usual drip there)

                                                              And the food? Very, very good. I had the tomato, avocado sandwich on ciabatta, which couldn't have been a more perfect combination of flavors and textures. Very well-executed. Also a very innovative and tasty red quinoa salad with thai tofu. I live in the Pasadena area, and I will most certainly make the trip to go back.

                                                            3. fwiw
                                                              ten ren is very good for oolong(wulong) teas from Taiwan which has the best oolong, and even for TieGuanYin.

                                                              As for yixing pots - my understanding is that one uses one pot for one particular kind of tea and that over the years, the pottery will be so infused with the oils and acids etc that simply pouring hotwater into the yixing pot will yield an acceptable tea drink. This would be impossible with a commercial establishment using the yixing pot as the variety would change with each usage. Yixing are for the connoisseur in a home environment.
                                                              I'm very simple inmy tea tastes. for the fancy chinese tea, I'll just buy a nice pricey jar of BiLuoChun and that's that. My understanding (limited seriously) is that the manner of serving tea in Fujian, in Taiwan, in Zhejiang (for dragon well), in Jiangsu province (for yixing potteries and biluochun tea) as well are all different and exacting. Then there are the historic teahouses by ancient numbered springs (for tea brewing, vs springs for straight drinking, Spring #2 under heaven etc).
                                                              ALl too complicated for little me.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Jerome

                                                                ten ren, yup - in chinatown.

                                                              2. Its kind of a distance for you, but my favorite tea room is in Upland on Central Ave, at the British Emporium. The cozy dining room has been carved out of a stripmall for an out of the IE experience. I think they serve PG Tips, nothing to exotic, but it is always a pleasant experience served in a proper tea setting. You can order a full high tea, with scones, or just the tea pot. I like to add something sweet like treacle or spotted dick.

                                                                1. I've tried Tapioca Express, Volcano Tea, Quickly, and Tea Station.

                                                                  TeaStation is my favorite, but i always ask for less sugar. TeaStation actually owns their own tealeaf factory in asia, so they use very high quality teas.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: henrychan888

                                                                    owning a factory doesnt automatically imply high quality.

                                                                  2. try serendipitea.com to order online. They have amazing teas. there is one with chocolate, mint and vanilla!

                                                                    1. For fancy afternoon tea, I highly recommend the Hotel Bel-Air--it is a beautiful place, the most awesome scones, and decent tea for a hotel. There is the added benefit of seeing stars--saw Ryan Seacrest there in Sept.
                                                                      I order my tea from Harney & Sons www.harney.com. Williams-Sonoma sells some varieties--Harney's Irish Breakfast & Earl Grey Supreme are really good. I think Barnes & Noble carries their tea as well. If you've ever been to Houstons restaurant, their Earl Grey is really good too. They buy it from Peerless Coffee in San Francisco.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: satilano

                                                                        Have you tried the Beverly Hills Hotel? I've been to a bunch of hotels/tea places for afternoon tea in the L.A. area-- BHH was my favorite. And as an added bonus for you there are definitely a lot of celebs there too.

                                                                      2. i have developed an expensive matcha tea habit, but the place i used to buy the good stuff is no longer in business. i've tried buying it at Japanese markets and other various places, but have never found one that matched the flavor and green...ness of the other more expensive one, which they were special ordering from Japan for me. without ordering online and not knowing what i'll get, anyone know where I can get the best matcha in LA? my whisk is waiting.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: shizzle

                                                                          I've never been, but Green Tea Terrace in Westwood may have it. They are run by Maeda-En, a major Japanese tea manufacturer. You may want to call and see if they have what you are looking for.

                                                                          Also, my favorite place, Palais des Thes in Beverly Hills probably carries it too, but they are on the expensive side, but worth it!

                                                                          http://www.palaisdesthes.com/eng/inde...

                                                                          http://www.greenteaterrace.com/index.htm

                                                                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                                                            thanks. i will try those and some of the others mentioned above. i just thought maybe someone had some special matcha dealer. i need a fix.

                                                                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                                                              The quality of the matcha offered for sale at Green Tea Terrace isn't the best. You're better off getting matcha at a store that doesn't cater to in-house drinkers.

                                                                              I will say this about Green Tea Terrace though: the matcha drinks are really great and can be "customized"-- that is, you can have it with soy, whole, skim milks and sweetened with sugar or honey (and to what extent) or COMPLETELY unsweetened.

                                                                              Zen Zoo offers that option as well, I believe. If you want a green tea latte sort of thing at T on Fairfax, the sweetener option might differ with the barista.

                                                                              To purchase a decent matcha, I'd actually suggest going to a Japanese or Korean market. If you're lucky, you might even have a Japanese or Korean tea STORE in your area.

                                                                              The closest to me is on Wilshire near...Wilton? It's called Chasaengwon, and the women there are super nice to customers (but I can't vouch for their English!). They currently have three pure powdered green teas, ranging from...I want to say $8 to $18. The most expensive tin has the most amazing color I've seen in a lonnnnng time, and it's made exclusively with very, very, very young, tender shade-grown leaves.

                                                                              Chasaengwon
                                                                              3839 Wilshire Blvd. Unit C
                                                                              213.380.3538
                                                                              www.hankooktea.co.kr

                                                                            2. re: shizzle

                                                                              When you walk into a tea store and buy something, you really don't know what you are going to get anyway, so why not just buy it online?

                                                                              Ito-en on Madison in New York has good matcha. Much better than what you will find at a Japanese market. They currently have four different ones available
                                                                              http://www.itoen.com/leaf/index.cfm

                                                                              If anyone else knows where to get good matcha in the U.S., I would love to know. A good matcha is a thing of beauty.

                                                                              1. re: omotosando

                                                                                Hey Omotosando,
                                                                                It is so much better to go into a store and look at your tea and discuss it with the people there than to buy on-line, especially if you are buying a particular tea for the first time. For one thing you can talk to the people in the store and you can smell and see the tea and compare it to various other teas in the same family.
                                                                                As for matcha that might be true as it comes in little canisters...but do you buy your fruits and vegetables on line?

                                                                                1. re: dotboy

                                                                                  Actually, if I could buy good fruits and vegetables on line, I would (no time for farmers markets and can't stand the mediocre stuff in the stores). I feel the same way about matcha - I'm not going to find the same breadth of selection of matcha at a tea store as I will find online; unless the store clerk is passionate about matcha, he/she is not going to be as knowledgeable as I am and since there is a limited market for expensive matcha, I think I'm more likely to get fresh stuff ordering online from a respected Japanese purveyer than at a local tea store.

                                                                                  By the way, I'm sure you will be horrified, but I actually make matcha in the blender for breakfast because I'm always rushed in the mornings. That's right - I heat the water, throw the hot water in a large tea bowl, dump the water from the bowl into the blender, add the matcha, blend and then return the finished blend back into the tea bowl. Works just fine. So much for "slow food." I know it's horrific, but it's better than not drinking matcha at all.

                                                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                                                    Well we do differ in how we like to get our stuff....but we seem to like the same results...I love a farmer's market.
                                                                                    I do agree with the selection of matchas not being great, however I agrree it is a small select group of drinkers that are looking for this one type of tea. And if you know what you want and have a good depth of knowledge than on line is a great way to go.
                                                                                    As for being horrified about your method of making matcha I am not. It sounds intruiging....kind of like a hybrid smoothie - hot tea. You may be on to something. I will try that this morning. I am not such a matcha fan - a bit bitter and way too caffeinated for me. I prefer to bake with matcha - I love the radioactive green color it makes the inside of a nice cake look! For me a nice mellow Gyorkuro or Silver Needles is just swell. And you know Matcha is great in a real smoothie....It blends well with bananas and soy....a real nice pick me up in the summer.

                                                                            3. I like the tea list at Hugo's in Hollywood.

                                                                              1. Hands down Le Palais des Thés has the finest teas in Los Angeles along with the best selection. I don't know what you consider $$$$ but you get what you pay for. As this is a site for foodies I am sure we can all appreciate the finer tastes of great products....why would there be a market for fine wines??? There are over 2000 types of tea - and from what I gather Le Palais has about 250, many are less than $10 - and you get 30 cups of tea for the price of two cups of starbucks! The great thing about that shop is they are willing to educate the neophyte and afficiando alike. As for the Tea Garden - talk about expensive - they sell the same Grand Jasmin for $10 unit that Le Palais sells for about $3 (although you do have to buy 1/4 lb).

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: dotboy

                                                                                  Hmmn, I always wondered why the tea was so expensive at the Tea Garden. I know good tea costs bucks, but it does seem way expensive at the Tea Garden. (Of course, you can bring your dog to the Tea Garden, which to me is worth a premium!) Are you sure it's the exact same tea at Le Palais des Thés that is $7 less?

                                                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                                                    Actually I think the tea at Le Palais des Thés is better.
                                                                                    And as for bringing your dog...you can bring your dog in the store???? Or are you talking about keeping him outside? I think that is a health code violation as they serve food and in LA County you are not allowed to bring pets in anyplace you serve food...I love my dog, but I cannot bring him into a restaurant...wonder why that is so? In NY and Paris you can...but then those cities are not paragons of cleanliness.

                                                                                  2. re: dotboy

                                                                                    I"m not sure that this is a site for "foodies" as such - with what that entails as far as high-end dining, raging about celebrity chefs etc. I think the demo is a little wider.
                                                                                    But the suggestion is good in taht Le Palais des Thes does have some things unavailable locally elsewhere.
                                                                                    Thanks for the reminder
                                                                                    (for those who don't know, it's on Canon in BH I believe).

                                                                                  3. no one is mentioning the persian teas. canary, while i'm not crazy about the food, has delicious tea, for example.

                                                                                    1. Clearly I'm a neophyte about types of teas. However since reading this thread back in July, I'm now enjoying Irish Breakfast tea--an English brand that I bought at Tudor House. It's lovely.
                                                                                      Anyhoo, last week I was taken to tea at the Bel Air Hotel and they had a lovely DECAF speical blend holiday tea. It was very, very nice. If you read the review under the thread Tea at the Ritz Carleton Pasadena you'll see that I'm not the only one who enjoyed it. I'd love to know where to buy more.
                                                                                      I also remember a lovely tea at the Peninsula that was a Pear and caramel tea from a few years ago. I've tried others with similar blends, but none compare to theirs.

                                                                                      1. Wow, this ended up being a pretty negative post. Sorry...

                                                                                        I'm no hardcore connoisseur of tea, but I've had good luck finding things I like (I like tea to be tea, and not some random assortment of chemicals layered onto bad-quality tea leaves) at the tea shop in the Glendale Galleria (it's got some horribly cutesy emasculating name like Lisa Wisa's Tea and Tiny Treasures or something like that).

                                                                                        I don't like Teavana. They don't know how to brew tea, and the $7.50 an hour kid behind the desk isn't exactly a connoisseur either.

                                                                                        Then there's Ten Ren in San Gabriel, where the teas are good but you have to watch like an eagle as they weigh it -- I told them a quarter pound, they tried to give me 0.18 lbs. and charge me for the quarter pound.

                                                                                        I haven't tried Le Palais des Thés -- I prefer Chinese tea to Indian, have they got Chinese?

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                          Le Palais has some basic Chinese teas, nowhere near the selection of Ten Ren. They have some really good blends and scented teas (not herbal), such as my favorite Thé des Songes, an oolong blend with a subtle tropical scent. It's not so offensively pungent as to be confused with potpourri. The floral aroma makes it a nice choice in the summer for making iced tea.

                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                            hello, we drink chinese teas almost exclusively, and are planning to visit le palais des thes on our holiday trip, based on the descriptions on their website: the content likely(I'll defer judgment until sniffing,looking, and tasting) reflects a pretty serious attitude about very high quality Chinese teas, some of which in the ooloongs and organics, I would not characterise by 'basic'(no offense intended, WBG). At least they are trying to communicate info on the teas, which I would not rely on TenRen to do. I have found some top quality stuff at TR, but not because the staff was particularly helpful, and I expressed my overall view on them on your other thread. regards

                                                                                            1. re: moto

                                                                                              Hey moto
                                                                                              You know your stuff.....as for Le Palais des Thés...I was just in yesterday...they have about 12 Chinese Green (try Ancient Snow Sprout....subtle dut divine) and about 18 Chinese Black (Qimen Imperial is my current favorite) as well as a few rare White teas and several Taiwanese and Chinese Oolongs....your point about basic is on the mark.
                                                                                              For me however I just discovered an amazing Gyokuro (rare Japanese shade grown tea) that is out of this world...costly but worth it...especially on a cold morning like this when I can savor three cups from just one teaspoon.
                                                                                              Glad to see there are so many knowledgable tea people on this site...most people think good tea is a favorite blend that might be cloying sweet. I am sure as more people are exposed to finer quality tea they will understand your comparison to fine wine. Enjoy your visit to L.A.

                                                                                              1. re: moto

                                                                                                I have to add props for Palais des Thés. Just be sure to take your time and really go thru the teas. The ones they have on the walls are the "best seller" types, many in pretty tins. This is nice for some, but of course you pay more for that. For the real deal, you'll want the behind the counter stuff. There you can find some truly amazing tea. The staff there gives such amazing service. If they can tell you're really interested in tea, they will spend a lot of time with you and make great recommendations. You can drink tea there, too. Have fun!

                                                                                              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                Lisa's Tea Treasures is no longer there at the Glendale Galleria (perhaps it had something to do with men not wanting to appear emasculated when going there? ;D). I think it's a clothing store now.

                                                                                                There is a Teavana on the first floor, though.

                                                                                              3. Just to shed a little light on why one tea vendor sells 'the same tea' at a higher price than a different vendor:
                                                                                                *within the same classification of tea example Japanese Sencha, there are various grades of tea.
                                                                                                *with Darjeeling's for example, you can always ask the seller of the teas the estate information, as well as the specific grade information for that particular tea. Example: A Darjeeling FTGFOP1 is better than a FOP1 and as such, would command a higher price in the market place.http://www.palaisdesthes.com/eng/leth... for more information.
                                                                                                *Teas are produced at various times of the year based on the region of production and depending on whether the tea is a 'first flush' (for example a Darjeeling first flush is a Spring tea) may command a different price than a 'second flush'
                                                                                                *the region of origin of similar teas are going to command different prices also. A single origin black tea from Vietnam is different than a Sri Lankan and is different than Indian. Even within India, an Assam may not cost as much as a Darjeeling.

                                                                                                I hope that sheds some light on the matter.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: peanut112

                                                                                                  hello, you've made some useful distictions. In other words, the teas in question are *not* the same tea. The most highly prized teas have a similar place in their market as the great Bordeaux chateau and Burgundy vineyards--limited production, high demand, lots of buyers competing for small amounts. But even when I pay the equivalent of $200/lb, infusing the tea 4-5 times gives me many more servings than a $100/btl wine and is something I can enjoy much more frequently. Some tea purveyors impose a high markup because of the way they package and market the product, and I try to have my own cannister filled from a vendor's, or get it in the same vacuum pack which gets imported and passed through customs. cheers

                                                                                                2. how is lady effie's?

                                                                                                  1. Moto...you bring up a great point that I forgot altogether. With a high quality tea, you can brew as many as six times, enjoying the richness and complexity of flavors that continue to evolve through each flush (not to be confused with flush-meaning the time of year the tea is produced).
                                                                                                    In Japan, for example, in many homes it is considered discourteous to even serve a first flush, or brew to guests, instead pouring out the first brew and rebrewing to serve to guests.
                                                                                                    I personally have had some Darjeeling single origin black tea that is incredibly expensive yet well worth the expense when you get to the 4th or 5th flush....very deep, malty, tippy in taste, amber or even darker in liquor and infusion shows the full quality of the leaf.

                                                                                                    1. I think getting a good cup of tea outside home is hard because there are so many variables in making good tea:

                                                                                                      - obviously it starts with the tea leaves
                                                                                                      - then the appropriate water temperature for the tea leaves makes a difference (we finally got a thermometer for that purpose)
                                                                                                      - putting in the correct amount of tea leaves (can't be too stingy here)
                                                                                                      - steep no longer than the required amount of time for that type of tea leaves

                                                                                                      We kind of did the lazy approach in the past and recently find out that if we did all the above steps correctly the tea was so much better! What we thought was bad tea leaves was actually bad brewing on our part.

                                                                                                      I think chado has a decent brewing/tea leaves. Like I said before, I think their strength are the higher end (read: try the more expensive ones) non-flavored tea leaves.

                                                                                                      Recently I discovered a new favorite - uptontea.com Their vanilla tea beats Mariage-Freres by a mile. They had tons of varieties, including machas, and herbal tea and best of all, you can get sample sizes good for 2-3 brews for very low prices (useful for the $30 teas that you don't want to invest too much money for trying out).

                                                                                                      My other favorite is Betjeman & Barton from Paris, especially the Le Classique. I used to be able to get them at Williams-Sonoma, but can't find them anymore, so the only option is to get them mail ordered from Europe or stock up when vacationing there.

                                                                                                      I also liked Lupicia for some of their flavored teas, since their flavors can be pretty unusual and more catered to Asian palates. This is one of the ones whose flavors doesn't come through when we brewed incorrectly.

                                                                                                      Still have to try Le Palais de Tea.

                                                                                                      1. Hi, I'm a graduate industrial design student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. My class is doing a semester long project on tea in hopes of improving the "tea experience" for anyone that drinks tea.

                                                                                                        Our first step is to understand the world of tea drinking so if anyone here considers themselves a tea connoisseur or an avid tea drinker, I would love to do an in-person interview session with you.

                                                                                                        This interview would purely be for educational purposes and you will not be compensated for your time... :) But we certainly will appreciate your unique perspectives on tea and hopefully, that will guide us to some innovation solution in the future!

                                                                                                        We are looking for tea lovers in the Pasadena area so we don't have to travel far to do an interview. If you would like to help, please contact me at pshan@artcenter.edu. Thanks!

                                                                                                        1. My understanding is that most of the teas provided in the high end tea shops around LA are sourced from Steve Schwartz the Tea Master from Art of Tea or Artoftea.com who directly goes himself to places around the world to source the teas. He is the underground voice and teacher behind most of these shops...FYI
                                                                                                          I used to get the tea from other shops but I find the experience of talking to the staff really enlightening. They are warm, friendly, and I usually get what I order shipped directly the next day! Has anyone else heard of them?

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Teahound

                                                                                                            He's a pretty nice guy; I've run into him at tastings before...

                                                                                                            Art of Tea is what is sold by-- at the very least-- Alcove Cafe, Susina, and Mendo-To-Go. If you ever see a curlicue design on/near the tea packaging, it's probably from Art of Tea-- basically any place that doesn't serve Palais des Thes stuff will be serving Art of Tea.

                                                                                                            1. re: PseudoNerd

                                                                                                              I've heard really good things about Tea Master Schwartz. I've seen his website and it looks informative and comprehensive. His prices are really good too, if you buy his teas from some of the shops around town he sells to.

                                                                                                          2. A third vote for Green Tea Terrace in Westwood. They take their tea quite seriously and their training of theis staff quite seriously. I always liked to order their iced ocha latte with skim milk and half sweet (no whip) and with boba (their boba was always cooked perfectly, al dente and not mushy with a consistent doneness from outside to inside). But just a straight cup of matcha green tea hits the spot (unfortunately, I don't think they served traditional manju sweets to go with that). Very good quality.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: ctowngal

                                                                                                              But Green Tea Terrace doesn't have actual tea cups, not even a nasty cheap mug - they serve everything in wax paper cups. I was shocked when I went there because I didn't expect that. I don't know how you can savor the taste of a fine green tea in a wax paper cup. I can't imagine ever driving into Westwood again, hunting down a parking space and paying $5.50 for a cup of tea in a wax paper cup.

                                                                                                              1. re: omotosando

                                                                                                                touché omotosando.

                                                                                                                if i recall...we only tried the hot matcha in a sample cup. maybe that's why i've only stuck with their cold drinks!

                                                                                                                1. re: ctowngal

                                                                                                                  I understand it isn't the classiest expereince - it is a casual place, but I don't think that a waxpaper cup is going to ruin, or even affect the flavor. Oversteeping or overheating has a much bigger effect, and they tend to be good about that.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MrShoop

                                                                                                                    Yup, it ruins the flavor. For one thing, tea in a wax paper cup doesn't stay hot. There is a reason that traditionally green tea is served in small ceramic cups which retain heat. I mean I guess if you are in Westwood and desperate for tea, it's okay, but the idea of actually driving into Westwood Village to have tea there is laughable.

                                                                                                            2. i'm anxious to try tea garden since i have been vastly dissapointed with the tea house selection, or lack there-of, in los angeles. i spent a year in china, in zhejiang province (home of some of the finest teas in the world) and fondly recall spending hours in the tea houses there sipping and snacking away. even in des moines, iowa (yes iowa) i have found a better tea house than any in l.a! it was a low key place where you could sit for hours without getting glares from the workers, and they have quality loose leaf teas. i still order teas from them online:

                                                                                                              www.gongfu-tea.com

                                                                                                              they have a wonderful selection of teas from all over the world, including an great yame gyokuro, and an amazing dragon’s well ming qiang.

                                                                                                              1. To buy loose tea, gotta be TEAVANA in ShOk Fashion Square and Glendale Galleria, you'll have to check for other locations...http://www.teavana.com If you have them brew it, the quality varies - it just depends on who is working at the time -
                                                                                                                For high tea, you can't beat the Peninsula. For a place to sit and have a nice cup of Tea - how about Boule?

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: truefoodie

                                                                                                                  I found the "high" tea at the Pennisula highly mediocre. It is not a place for serious tea drinkers.

                                                                                                                2. Go to Palais Des Teas(sp) on Canon Dr. B.H. their tea is awesome!!! I have probably 10 different teas from them in my cupboard. They sample. The teas are from all over the world.

                                                                                                                  1. Have you tried "Lupicia" in Century City Mall??? It is not a cafe but their tea is ORGASMIC to me

                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: miffy

                                                                                                                      The quality of their teas are sub par and expensive. It's a trick though, they put it in these tin cans and the packaging is fun so most people get fooled into thinking they're getting a deal or the quality of the tea is high, when it isn't. Miffy this thread should be good for you, read it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: hazelnutty

                                                                                                                        If you had purchased tea at Lupicia you would know that the cans are extra cost unless it's a specialty prepackaged item. When you buy the tea it comes in a sealed foil bag, standard is 100g.

                                                                                                                        I've been buying tea at Lupicia and while some are not to my taste, I strongly disagree that it's 'substandard'. Substandard are those broken leaves tea bags in those fancy cans by Republic of Tea that's nothing but sawdust.

                                                                                                                        The best for me is Palais, Mariage, and Bjetleman, and they are MUCH more expensive than Lupicia.

                                                                                                                    2. Best Tea is only served by Persian Restaurants! If you really want to experience TEA , freshly brewed with a fantastic aroma then step into one fo LA's great Persian restaurant... as for Tea in the branded store (bucks and CBTLF) they are bastardized versions of Tea, all about branding

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: barcelona

                                                                                                                        I share in the tea frustration, having just arrived home from the Boston area where the tealuxe makes real chai (six kinds!), not some crap powder from a mix. Does anyone know where they actually steep leaves in milk rather than throw powder into a waterered down milk in the socal area? I went to URTH and asked them to do this, but they def. used a pre-sweetened powder.
                                                                                                                        argh.
                                                                                                                        I am also hard-pressed for a black blend to replace the Harrod's ceylon that I was drinking (a gift from someone who had just visited the UK). I might get some blackberry /black from URTH. I haven't had it in ages.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Bugg Superstar

                                                                                                                          The Bombay Cafe on Pico used to make a good chai. It is definitely not pre-sweetened. Don't know if they use fresh leaves or not, but I don't think it is from a powder. I wouldn't exactly count on Urth Cafe for good tea - I find everthing there highly mediocre.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Bugg Superstar

                                                                                                                            I just found this thread so you may have discovered a steeped-leaf chai joint yourself in the last 2 years, but just in case... try Casbah Cafe in Silver Lake. I'm no connoisseur, but I find their from-leaves-not-powder chai delightful. They also have nice pastries and salads, a relaxed atmosphere (though it can be difficult to find seating at peak hours, even at the sidewalk tables), and an excellent playlist. Long hours, too... usually 6am - 11pm, I believe.

                                                                                                                            Casbah Cafe
                                                                                                                            3900 W. Sunset Blvd.
                                                                                                                            Los Angeles, CA 90029
                                                                                                                            323 664 7000

                                                                                                                        2. I've had 2 great afternoon teas at Rose Tree Cottage in Pasadena, owned/operated by an English couple. Last time I was there, though, they mentioned they might be squeezed out of the neighborhood because of development plans.

                                                                                                                          1. It's out of the way, but try "Tea Habitat" in Rolling Hills / Rancho Palos Verdes has a great selection of Chinese and Taiwanese teas (oolong, pu'erh, green, white, etc.). The owner (Imen) will be happy to brew tea for you if you stop by. They have occasional "open bar" tastings where you can come try a ton of different stuff. They also brew 3 or so different iced teas each day.

                                                                                                                            If you want to do a more formal gong fu tea session, call ahead, and they can set something up.

                                                                                                                            Full disclosure - I am friends with the owner and she is in a small tea-drinking group I'm part of, but have no financial interest - I would just like to see a good tea shop succeed in LA.

                                                                                                                            1. Best place to buy tea in Los Angeles: Wing Hop Fung, on Broadway in Chinatown. Tea section is upstairs, and is 100% as good as Palais du The or Tea Garden, and around 1/4 the price. Just as an example, the cheapest tea at the Tea Garden is like, what, $12 an oz? At WHF, the top-shelf stuff is $200...a pound. Which works out to about $12 an ounce. And no, it's not because the worst tea at the Tea Garden is as good as the best at WHF--it's because the Tea Garden robs its customers blind. Same with Palais (and bear in mind that I'm friendly with the management at both places, so I would never say this without good reason). And, at WHF, you can sample any of their teas for free. That's right: you sit on a low stool, one of the women working scoops out a cup's-worth of any tea you ask, and brews you a one-cup pot on the spot. For free. So this is how you learn about tea at WHF--not by being overwhelmed by "Dr. Tea"'s zealotry, not by being cowed by the surroundings at Palais into spending $100 an ounce on something you know nothing about...you try for yourself, and then you buy. My favorite oolong--Supreme Wu Yi "Big Red Robe" (misspelled at WHF to read "Rope" but there's a discussion I would just rather not try to navigate) goes for around $70 a pound, so 2 ounces, a serious tea-drinking week's supply, is about $10. Best pu-erh I've ever had? $80 a pound. By far the best dragonwell? Same.

                                                                                                                              If you're looking for rarefied atmosphere and native English-speakers, look elsewhere. If you want the biggest and best selection of teas in Los Angeles for the absolute best price, Wing Hop Fung, my friends. Just try not to swarm it when I'm there, please--it's the least you can do, in exchange for this tip.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: dwg

                                                                                                                                I have to agree, if you're buying loose leaf for home consumption, Wing Hop Fung in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown is the way to go. My chinese is horrible, but the tea ladies were very nice and helpful. This was the best way for me to learn, to sit and taste the tea before I buy it, and watching it being prepared so I can emulate it at home. An overwhelming selection, I tried 3 different teas with multiple steepings. The only bad part would be having to pay for parking, but I believe that plaza has underground parking with validation.

                                                                                                                                The problem I have with places like teavana is a salesperson trying to upsell you a cast iron kettle or other accessories. Oh, and getting suckered into paying $7 for a 1lb capacity airtight canister. -_- My experience at WHF was all about tea, and that's what it should be about.

                                                                                                                                1. re: evilbeefchan

                                                                                                                                  Wing Hop Fung, both the downtown location and the Atlantic Boulevard location in the San Gabriel Valley, has a great teaware selection. Beyond their dishes, I especially like all their cups and teapots. I recently just purchased a small glass teapot there that I have been enjoying.

                                                                                                                              2. algabar on la brea.
                                                                                                                                this is where the montage in bh gets their terrific tea.

                                                                                                                                1. Teavana. A chain but good.

                                                                                                                                  1. This is going to sound really pedestrian and is not meant to compete with the tea experts and tea specialty shops out there but for what it's worth I've been pretty impressed with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf teas. the Genmaicha is so much better than what I picked up at the Korean market, anyway, and there's a tropical tea and one other one I've tried. They have those silky triangle teabags and the scent and quality of the ingredients seems respectable. You know, in the morning around the corner on your way to whatever real tea place you had in mind.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cinnamon

                                                                                                                                      I don't know about the Genmaicha, but Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's Moroccan Mint and Japanese Cherry both contain artificial flavors.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dogbite Williams

                                                                                                                                        Japanese green sencha, roasted rice, popped corn

                                                                                                                                    2. try AU79 Teahouse in Arcadia. They brew their tea with whole leaves as opposed to grinded ones (like TenRen and other big chains)

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: ClarissaW

                                                                                                                                        Thanks, ClarissaW!
                                                                                                                                        I am always searching for good brewed tea -- with whole leaves. AU79 is now on my list!