Lupicia Tea Room at Century City Mall
I passed this store for the first time today and stopped in for a looksee. Has anyone else tried it as well? What's their reputation?
Short version: it's a fun store, the tea's okay, but I'm not clamorning to go back.
As far as I can tell, they have a lot of tea from Japan, China, and Taiwan, and smaller numbers of tea from other places including England and Africa.
I bought a muscat flavored oolong from China because it smelled incredibly enticing. They somehow got the tea to smell like those big expensive Concord grapes you find at Korean markets, or like Japanese grape candy.
The actual brewed product was a less exciting. I'm drinking it hot right now and it's okay, but the muscat flavor suffers because the oolong it's paired with is mediocre. I'm going to try it iced with some sugar next, hoping that will bring out the flavor. Some other flavors I had a hard time passing up:
-muscat black tea (instead of muscat oolong)
-pineapple oolong (with a more expensive oolong that comes in rolled balls instead of shards, smelled better, and was from Taiwan instead of China). Smelled like Taiwanese pineapple cakes.
-strawberry black tea
That's just what caught my eye today, and I was in a fruit mood. There are at least a hundred choices, likely more, both simple and complex.
I found this photo of Lupicia on Flickr: it's of the San Francisco store. The one at Century City has the same setup but is smaller.
People are nice if not terribly knowledgeable (still getting used to things, I assume), there are a few brewed samples to try, and it's a fun store to look at. I wish they would sell weighed amounts. They currently only sell 1.7 oz. bags, so you have to make a $5-10 commitment to one flavor.
Website (Japanese only): http://www.lupicia.com/
I guess I'm the sole dissenting voice on standing up for Lupicia vs. Palais...I do like the teas at Palais (Rose de Chine and The du Hammam are exquisite) but I think Lupicia does a better job with fruit-tea flavors. I find the cherry flavoring of Palais' Fleur de Geisha to be too weak and overpowered by the green tea flavor (just IMHO), whereas the flavored teas I've gotten at Lupicia are more balanced and DELIGHTFUL.
The Grapefruit Green and Apricot Houji are lovely ways to start the day, their "Miss Jasmine" tea is so aromatic that my co-workers asked me what I was brewing from ACCROSS the kitchen, and their fresh Mint Green tea is crisp and refreshing (and is the only way I can get my boyfriend to drink something "healthy" like green tea, LOL).
In sum, I love tea from both places, but I wouldn't necessarily count Lupicia out. Maybe (fruit + green), which I've tried, is a better combination than (fruit + oolong)?? (I haven't tried any of their oolongs)...
So, give Lupicia a try! Dotboy, like you, I used to give all of my gifts from Palais, but have since switched to Lupicia for friends I know that like fruit-infusions (and I'll be sure to try out the Immortal Green next time I'm in Palais....).
Happy drinking, everyone!
I agree. Now having tried Palais finally I think they both had their strong points.
I absolutely loved du Hammam at Le Palais but I also like some of the Lupicia tea still. We got through about 1/2 of the 50 bag sampler we got before Xmas and the grapefruit green tea really stood out. Also liked the one with rice and beans.
I think the sampler is the best way to figure out which teas are good. We did the same at Palais and got a few good ones that I wouldn't normally have tried.
Thanks Pei....I was tempted to try Lupicia, but the name is a real turn-off (sounds like a skin disease). I am a die-hard Le Palais des Thés fan - they have the finest assortment of teas, the nicest looking store and the most knowledgable staff.
While they do have some rare and expensive teas the majority are $10 - $15 for a 1/4 lb. Be sure to try Immortal Green and Thé du Hammam- these are by far the fruitiest and most delightful teas I have ever tasted. Plus they have a great assortment of gift sets and wonderful cast iron teapots. I can do all my holiday (well most if not all) shopping at this great emporium.
As for the comments about caffeine free teas - those are really not teas - they are herbal infusions and you are better of looking for them at an herbalist or Whole Foods. Would you go to a wine shop and look for grape juice? The really good tea shops cater to tea afficianados and provide superb tea that you cannot find at your supermarket or Trader Joe's.
Well, I finally stopped by the store on Friday after Thanksgiving. It is the same as L'Epicier that I visited in Oahu, so I was pretty happy to be able to restock my favorites without having to pay the shipping fee.
There's a store opening special of 30 bags good for 2 cups of tea each for $20, or 50 bags for $30. Seems like a good way to sample a lot of the teas without having to pay for $5-10 per bag, so we got a couple of boxes of those for ourselves and as gifts.
I like their flavored teas; I think they smelled very true to the description. As with most flavored teas, I don't find the taste to be incredibly strong, and I tend to stick with vanilla/caramel type of flavors.
My favorites there were neptune, rum raisin, haru poro poro, and momo. They have a decent lychee that smells like lychee. Haven't tried the 'traditional' tea before, but I am guessing that for those maybe TenRen is a better bet.
The store clerk was very helpful. Turned out she transferred from the Oahu store to the LA branch.
Thanks for the review, Pei. I dropped in to Lupicia today and had a similar reaction--lots of stuff, but nothing knocked my socks off. I tried the strawberry tea but didn't love it. They have little in the way of caffeine-free choices; the few they did have on hand are rooibos-based, including an Rooibos Earl Grey that was the best-smelling thing I checked out. Unfortunately I am personally more interested in fruit infusions and 100% herbal blends, so there's not much I was driven to buy.
Although Lupicia's website is Japanese-only, they do have a rather nice English-language catalog available at the door; it's pocket-sized, 50 pages long, studded with little infobits about tea, and well worth picking up if one is near the store.
I've been more impressed with the tea at Le Palais des Thés in Beverly Hills, although I think it's even more expensive than Lupicia. If you're still in a fruit mood, check out their cherry-scented green-tea "Fleur de Geisha," which manages to be very strong in both cherry and tea qualities at the same time.
But Le Palais des Thés also doesn't sell fruit infusions and herbal blends either, so I don't go there so much either.
I've looked around, but never found a fruit blend I loved more than Adagio Tea's (online) blood orange tea. I even posted on the LA board asking if anyone else has blood orange tea. If you like fruit infusions, consider ordering some. It's fantastic mixed with rooibos and is easily my favorite caffeine free tea blend.
Chado on 3rd's blood orange tasted more like hibiscus tea because of the high concentration of hibiscus and cranberries. Very disappointing.
Lupicia's orange blends didn't smell very strong at all.
Thanks for the heads up on Le Palais de Thes, now I'll know to stop in when I pass by.
Pei -- I was so happy to see your report of this tea store. There is also one going into the new Westfield Topanga Canyon Mall, and before your report, I was looking forward for that to happen. We were there a couple of weeks ago, and while the tea store name was on the directory, there was no sign of the store. Perhaps they will come later or have un-committed. In light of your report, I won't care so much now.
I went to Topanga Mall Saturday. And i passed it with my friend. IT caught my attention so i decided to take a few steps back.. And BAM! i was sucked into the store. They got me Smelling all types of herbage. Lol. Different types of things. Green teas to black teas. I spent over $50 there. I guess i'm a fanatic when it comes to tea. Thinking about throwing a tea party.