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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.


      5 Replies
      1. re: Honeychan

        For tea house recommendations, I like to consult: www.teamap.com

        You can also check my list for afternoon tea recommendations at http://www.yelp.com/list_details?favo...

        My favorite tea room is Tea Upon Chatsworth in San Diego.

        1. re: Honeychan

          Thanks to all for your replies. Honeychan, I'd be interested in your Chado recommendations. Fire away...

          1. re: SPAndrea

            What kind of tea are you looking for and what kind of tea do you tend to like?

            1. re: will47

              I like black tea (English breakfast and Earl Grey) and green tea. But, I'm willing to be adventurous and try anything. :)

            2. re: SPAndrea

              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!!

          2. 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.

            2 Replies
            1. re: gadflier


              I've tried the following: Sakurambo, Apricot Hojicha, and Apple Berry

              1. re: gadflier

                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.

              2. 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

                Tea Habitat
                21B Peninsula Center
                (Hawthorne & Silver Spur)
                Palos Verdes CA 90274

                1. Hi -

                  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.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jeebo

                    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.

                    1. re: aliris

                      I second that the ambiance at Jin is creepy and the service scary. The only thing I disagree with is that the tea cakes are delicious - I didn't like them.

                  2. In addition to the other suggestions (esp. Tea Habitat), you could check out Le Palais des Thes in BH. May be a little on the expensive side. I haven't tried it myself, so can't speak to the quality.

                    1. Chado is a wonderful respite. I live going there for high tea. Both locations have been consistent. The food is lovely.

                      Hugo's in the valley has an extensive and eduactional menu. The food is more health conscience / vegetarian.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gaylenwaydelich

                        Chado is lovely. I prefer the Pasadena location, but the Beverly Hills one is closer. Their tea service is so yummy. The Rose Sencha and the Cherry Sencha are my favs!

                      2. I followed Jeebo's advice and bought some tea at Urth in Santa Monica. I haven't tried it yet. But, this shouldn't end the discussion. Please keep making suggestions! Thanks.

                        1. I love, love and super love the teas at Les Palais de Tea on Canon at Brighton. They have beautiful blends and the staff is very helpful. It is my go-to place for a hostess gift (for my friends who love tea...I don't bother wasting this lovely commodity on those who wouldn't appreciate it.) they have a fantastic selection, though no place to sit and enjoy. For that, you can go to Jin Patiserrie, where they serve the Palais de Tea stuff!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: laura w

                            Hi, laura w.
                            Does Le Palais des Thes no longer have a tea bar set-up?
                            When I had family visiting last summer, on a rather hot day we wandered in, sat at the bar and enjoyed some interesting berry iced teas. It was so refreshing, and I thought that they really had something going with this tea bar. Is it no longer there?

                            1. re: liu

                              i was at le palais yesterday and it is still there.....while i was shopping i noticed the lovely Renee Russo shopping there and enjoying a cup at the bar!

                          2. For a relaxed experience, you can try Hwa Sun Ji, a Korean tea house in Koreatown - they offer a tea ceremony for a $10 reservation as well. I posted a review last week at:

                            1. Hi everyone. So glad to see this discussion is ongoing. I tried Tea Habitat in Palos Verdes, too. The tea is very good and the knowledgeable owner, Imen, is thoroughly devoted to Chinese tea. She teaches classes on tea and has a booth at Palos Verdes' Sunday farmers market. She serves high tea every day with reservations. She also stocks a good selection of Chinese tea servingware.

                              Tea Habitat
                              21B Peninsula Center
                              Rolling Hills Estates 90274
                              (across from TJ Maxx)
                              (310) 921-5282

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SPAndrea

                                Thanks, SPAndrea, for this report. I love to hear about tea places with passionate and knowledgeable owners. I will keep her address with me so that I don't pass it by when I am in that part of town.

                              2. You can order high quality Chinese tea through 1001 Plateus. They are local and will arrange for a tasting.

                                  1. Tudor House is SM tea room on 2nd just down from Broadway. I think they're owned by Ye Olde King's Head owners since they have British specialties retail shop also at YOKH. Check them out.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: wykkedwilly

                                      I've only been to the Tudor House, but it's cute and is a nice place for lunch. Try the Lapsang Souchong (a smoky-flavored tea that's great with milk).


                                    2. Oooo! I love that this discussion has the Energizer Bunny spirit. It keeps going and going and going -- all the better!

                                      On your collective recommendation, I visited Funnel Mill. Absolutely delightful!! The tea was delicious. The service and presentation were top notch. The staff is happy to explain anything and everything you could want to know about their tea.

                                      The only drawback was a lack of seating I find comfortable. They have only high stools and couches. I prefer standard tables.

                                      But, it's a small sacrifice. I'll definitely go back. Free wifi is an added bonus.

                                      Thanks, all, for the pearls of wisdom. Keep them coming!

                                      1. I love tea discussions as well! How about tea sandwiches? Where are these served well please?

                                        I've been to the Huntington's tea a zillion times and it's a crowd-pleaser with kids. But frankly, tea sandwiches are not tea sandwiches when the bread is thick and spongy. It's supposed to be teeny, thin, compact, tasty....also not globs of thick cream cheese, etc. It's not a big complaint; the Huntington is what it is and the price for AYCE (considering it is, after all, a full lunch) is fantastic -- however...can someone tell me whether anyone does better in the tea sandwiches-and-scones (*snack*) department?

                                        1. I found the best online tea distributor in The New Yorker one day. The address is <http://www.uptontea.com> They have many, many teas with reviews and the best part is you can order samples for about $1.00. I'm a Fortnum and Mason Breakfast blend fanatic and I was able to find even better Assams at Upton. I highly recommend them.