Tea Houses and Loose Tea
I'm looking for a good tea house in Santa Monica. Though I may sit down and drink a cup, my primary goal is to buy loose tea. Any suggestions?
If you have a recommendation for some place outside Santa Monica, do tell so I know for future reference.
I can't help with SM, but for your "future reference," Tea Forest Cafe in Culver City, on Washington across from the Helms complex is a sweet little place. They have nice sandwiches as well as tons of tea selections. FYI, their website is lame, not much info there.
I highly reccommend Chado Tea-House. They have 2 shops in LA, one in Pasadena off of Lake St, and one near the Beverly Center.
Very nice and knowledgable staff, at least at the Pasadena shop. The owner Reena is a very nice lady, who adores all tea. A woman after my own heart!
To be able to sit at a table, and have them bring down the large metal tea-caddies..To let you smell how wonderful 99.5% of all they have there, will send you into a tea-gasam!! I swoon every time I walk into the shop.
Get yourself a few catalogues to take home.
I can give you recommendations on my fave teas from Chado, if interested.
I'd be happy to pass along my fave teas at Chado.
Mauritius: Very smooth black tea blend, that takes milk and sugar really well. If taken black, it's slightly sweet, with a noticable vanilla note. This is my go-to tea from Chado.
Boston Tea Party: Similar to the Mauritus blend, but without the vanilla note. A bit stronger in tannin, you can taste it on the togune. Takes milk and sugar great.
Ghengis Khan: A smoked tea that is very unique and not for everyone. I had one cup, and upon that first taste, declared I really disliked it. But...After mulling it over, and actually- buying- 2 ounces to take home, I have changed my tune. It's a tea that is a perfect palate-cleeanser from all those sweeter, flavored teas out there. I can't really say if this is a good tea for high tea, as the smokiness might clash with food. (then again, some might say quite the opposite..The contrast in flavors might be a real draw for others) This is the most unique tea i've ever drunk, and it's really grown on me.
Lavender Earl Grey: unique and really refreshing. One friend remarked though: "It's a little too much like drinking perfume for me" I can understand her point, but I still enjoy it quite a bit.
Rose Green Tea: Another unique one I get a kick out of drinking. Smooth and flowery.
Another "perfumey" type of tea, you may wish to give it a smell in the container before deciding on giving it a go. Adventerous, but not -too- weird. *LOL* Does that make sense??
For tissanes, I really love their Lemon-mint Cammomille. A perfect way to relax before bed, honey makes it perfect.
My one tea that fell short for me at Chado, I just recently had 2 days ago, on Friday. I ordered the Leopard's Blend, and was not thrilled with it. It really tasted to me like a very weak "Lipton's" type, with no complexity whatsoever. Just very boring.
If you end up going there, give yourself at least an hour, to relax and enjoy picking out some wonderful teas. The staff is knowledgable and pleasant, eager to help you find your "perfect" tea. They also sell some good tea equippage as well, if your needing anything. Let us know how it goes, and what teas you end up getting, wherever it is you end up going! Have fun!!
I just went into, but did not (yet) buy from, Lupicia in Century City, in the Westfield Mall:
Just a store, but big selection. Friendly sole employee says there are two (three?) in the US and "many" in Japan. They had one hot and one cold tea to try.
I bought some tea there last night for my wife. They had the tea that is the whole flower that opens up when you put it in hot water. That's always a crowd-pleaser. The rest of the tea selection was pretty broad and seemed pretty good, though I will freely admit that I'm not a sophisticated customer.
There's a quiet little tea and coffee place on Broadway in Santa Monica. I think it's called Funnel Mill Rare Coffee and Tea. The BF and I went there this weekend and it was tranquil.
If you're up for a drive, there's a new place called Tea Habitat in Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes that has sit down type tea as well as loose leaf tea you can buy.
Funnel Mill Rare Coffee and Tea
930 Broadway Suite A
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone: (310) 597-4395
21B Peninsula Center
(Hawthorne & Silver Spur)
Palos Verdes CA 90274
I highly recommand two places and their websites do a pretty good job at telling you what they offer:
1) Jin's Patisserie (www.jinpatisserie.com): they have great ambience and afternoon tea. JP is located in Venice - very close to Santa Monica.
2) Urth Cafe (www.urthcafe.com) - they serve a variety of loose tea from around the world. They have a store location in Santa Monica.
Please note that claiming Jin's provides "great ambience" is a highly controversial contention! There are at least two threads about this. Personally, I think the ambience is creepy, the service scary but the tea cakes fascinating and delicious as well. Worth trying perhaps, but unlikely to find it restorative. IMHO.