Teatime in the Bay Area
The Food Section in today's (12/8/04) S.F. Chronicle has an article about the growing interest in tea and afternoon teatime in the Bay Area. The article includes a list of a dozen or so places in SF and the Bay Area that serve afternoon tea. You can find is at www.sfgate.com. Maybe someone can link it.
I thought it was an odd article, mixing apples and oranges (or crumpets and plums). The places you go to pour milk in your blended tea with white-gloved hands while music plays in the background aren't the same places you go to expand your knowledge of China greens. I don't think it did justice to either genre.
The link wasn't hard to find, though.
re: Gary Soup
I agree that the article lacked focus However, it had some good info.
It is good to know that Michael Mina is having afternoon tea through the holiday season. It might be a fun way to check out that restaurant.
And while not comprehensive, it had a good listing of the major places.
It was good to hear that Alice Cravens, former assistant to the late Helen Gustafson, the Berkeley tea lady who started Chez Panisse's tea program. Cravens continues to supply tea to Chez Panisse as well as Zuni Cafe and Delfina.I was wondering about that.
I've been curiuos if DynesTea was hanging in there. I'm glad to hear that they are.
The problem was mixing English and Chinese Tea and then not being clear about which was which.
I was about to ask if anyone has tried Teavana. From the article, I'm still not clear if they serve English or Chinese tea. With the mention of the mug, I'm guessing English tea.
re: Krys Stanley
Personally it feels like a recycled article that they run this time every year, for the ladies who lunch who need a break from Christmas shopping with their daughters and want hotels near Union Square...or something like that. Didn't the Compass Rose have some champagne brunch priced teddy bear tea for $50 plus champagne? For that kind of thing, the Ritz and the Sheraton Palace have better atmosphere.
Teavana is okay, neither Chinese nor English. It's a chain, and their tea is brewed decently, but the prices are higher than warranted. They seemed to be promoting lots of flavored options--peach mango darjeeling, ginger berry rooibos, trendy white tea--more than their high end Indian or Chinese teas.
Their aspirations seemed more Starbucks than Peet's or Samovar. I preferred the tea place that was on the same block of Polk 5 or 6 years ago, with the amazing tea ice cream flavors.
I was recently the guest of honor at a tea shower at Lovejoy's, on Church in Noe Valley. While this isn't the most elegant location in the area, you can't beat it for service, they were very accommodating and this seemed to be true for smaller parties as well as our larger one at the back.
The tea sandwiches were particularly good, with much more variety than one sees at the hotel teas. I really enjoyed the chicken salad with walnuts, the roast beef with horseradish, and an asparagus cream cheese sandwich. I also enjoyed the petit fours and the crumpets, although the scones were of the puffy variety that have been lamented here.
Amazingly, at the end of the shower they carefully boxed up every leftover, including the fruit, which turned out to be much more and much tastier than a mere garnish. They even draped damp papertowels over the tea sandwiches so that they wouldn't dry out.
They also made sure that those who preferred decaf had a pot of their own to avoid confusion. I loved their vanilla roobois so much I didn't try any of the more traditional teas.
I can't speak to cost as I was a guest -- and this was my first visit although it's been in the neighborhood for quite a while. I would return for a leisurely visit with a friend, it was an enjoyable place to be.
I also agree with the apples and oranges. One thing that I have never understood after living in the Bay Area for 13 years, is what is considered teatime. I am an East Coast transplant (DC/NYC)who wouldn't dream of having tea (the British mini-meal, not the beverage)before 3:30pm, yet I run across countless places that serve at 11:30am. Is this a West Coast thing?