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Are There Any Non-Asian Restaurants in Los Angeles That Actually Serve Tea Brewed With Tea Leaves?

Had a holiday lunch today at La Cachette.

Nice ambience, nice waiter, food fine, if not particularly memorable.

After lunch, I ordered tea. Waiter brings by big box with bags of tea for me to choose. This is my absolute pet peeve with so-called upscale restaurants. Would they serve packets of instant coffee?

Anyway, took a bag of jasmine. Waiter brings cup and pot of lukewarm water. Jasmine tea undrinkable (do they make a Grade F tea?). Replaced with Darjeerling. Better than the jasmine, but not much (think Grade D, not F).

Really sour finish to the meal. Made me feel like I was in Peoria, not L.A. (most nicer restaurants in New York like the Four Seasons, for example, actually serve real tea).

So my question is does anyone know of any non-Asian restaurants in Los Angeles that actually serve anything other than insipid bagged tea?

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  1. Indian and Iranian restaurants usually do.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hrhboo

      I guess I meant are there any Western cuisine restaurants -- i.e., not Middle Eastern, not Asian, not Indian subcontinent? Somebody at lunch mentioned don't even think of trying to get tea in Sweden. Should the same be said of 99% of fine dining establishments in L.A.?

    2. 26 Beach Restaurant sells loose leaf teas, they have this pieapple/mango or something that is reall good

      5 Replies
      1. re: Burger Boy

        Omotosando has a point. Why are LA restaurants not able to acknowledge that teas are as sophisticated as various types of grappa, whiskies, cheeses, chocolates, etc?

        To have a teabag ... or a fruit flavored tea offered to you is an admission that they are not trying to offer the best. Yet I do not have an answer to the original query.

        For those interested, a wonderful site to Google for a huge selection of teas is Upton Tea.

        1. re: SilverlakeGirl

          26 Beach has about 12 teas, i just happen to like flavored teas, blackberry/currant, this chocolate tea. etc. I really like the Green/Orange Bergamont tea from Trader Joes, it rocks !

          1. re: SilverlakeGirl

            Believe me, if a restaurant could charge $15 for a tea like they can a whiskey, grappa or dessert, then the business would certainly start to offer more choices like these...

          2. I believe that Grace serves loose tea - they get their tea from Serendipitea. The last time that I was there I had the Earl Grey which was very nice.

            http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

            1. I remember having wonderful darjeeling at Spago one time, but then I would hope that for the price of Spago, they could at least have good tea.

              1. I haven't been there in a couple of years so I can't vouch that this is still the case, and I'm far from a tea expert, but the lounge in the main lobby of The Beverly Hills Hotel (and perhaps the other dining establishments at the hotel, e.g., The Polo Lounge) used to serve tea with unbagged leaves in a brewing strainer atop the cup.

                1. Haven't seen a lot posted on this board about T on Fairfax. They claim to have 100 loose teas and while I haven't counted, it is the biggest list I've seen and have had some awesome teas there. I understand you're inquiring about loose leaf tea served at upscale American/French restaurants and I'm right there with ya...a polite comment at the end of the meal might get the message across.

                  Check out T on Fairfax. The food is good too, a little on the healthy/bland side but everything fresh and tasty. Reasonable, too. My only complaint is they don't steep it or time it for you, they just say, "Let this steep for about 3 minutes or so..." so bring a watch or something for the Royal Pu-ehr.

                  1. This is why I started ordering coffee in restaurants. I can't bear to be handed another teabag and lukewarm water.

                    Some tea rooms also have good food - another option. Chado is always fun, but don't go on weekend afternoon - it's baby/wedding shower day and the place is packed with large parties.

                    http://www.chadotea.com/tearooms.asp

                    I'd love to hear any positive responses to the original post!

                    1. The Restaurant at the Getty uses loose tea, bagged to order.

                      1. When i had lunch @ Literati II within past year, they brought loose leaf tea in a french press - it was great and there was a lot of it.

                        1. i wouldn't call it a 'fine dining establishment', but caffe latte on wilshire and crescent heights offers loose tea and has a full menu. it seems to be more of a cafe/sandwich place thing, because so do doughboys and mani's bakery. urth cafe also has loose tea, served in an individual french press (which actually, while charming, is kind of a bummer, because you can't remove the leaves when the tea is at your desired strength).

                          1. I had lunch with my mother at The Vintage Tea Leaf in Long Beach not too long ago. Excellant tea served well, but the food was pretty high-priced tiffin kind of stuff--scones, little sandwiches, some good soups.

                            1. well, the cafe part of borders has loose leaf tea, the selection is not that great but you can get it in a china teapot and everything. a very nice surprise.

                              1. Well, I wasn't aware that the cafe at Borders served loose tea, but my question was really aimed at actual restaurants (and upscale non-Asian restaurants in particular) - not tea shop/cafes. When I want to go out for a fine non-Asian meal or entertain clients at a fine non-Asian restaurant (not everyone is as crazy about Asian food as I am - I could eat it 24/7), it won't be at Borders or at a tea cafe.

                                But for the fact that they think it's okay to give someone an inspid bag of tea and a pot of lukewarm water, La Cachette would be exactly the kind of upscale restaurant where one would feel comfortable going for a fine dining experience or entertaining clients.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: omotosando

                                  I'm racking my brain, but like you I've never (almost never) seen loose tea in a Western restaurant in LA. Perhaps people in these parts order tea so rarely they would be faced with stale tea? I know, it doesn't really make sense because tea keeps so much better than coffee does. But I do think stale drip coffee is about the same as instant coffee in a packet, so most restaurants are serving both bad tea and bad coffee, not just bad tea.

                                  Jar had Mighty Tea leaves in a bag. Not fantastic, but one step up from packets in a box!

                                  Too bad I can't think of a place like Oola in SF, where after dinner the server brings out a compartmentalized box with a glass lid, with a different loose leaf tea in each compartment. You're walked through the day's selections, and the tea is served in a clear glass teapot so you can see the leaves unfurl. Any restaurant like this in LA?!

                                2. Peet's serves loose leaf. As does Coffee Bean, but I'm not a big fan of their's.

                                  So far, best tea in L.A. for me, at the Huntington Library's Tea Garden. Loose leaf amazing tea! My brothers are coffee drinkers and I like only savory, strong loose leaf tea. Well, they were serving raspberry tea that morning and we each drank about 7 cups! It was that good.

                                  It is hard to find loose leaf. Look for independent tea and coffee houses. It's a real disappointment, I agree.