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Nov 18, 2007 08:48 AM

Restaurants with good tea service

Since serious tea drinkers are a neglected minority, I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of full-service restaurants (not tea shops or places that otherwise specialize in drinks), that have good tea service. And no, I don't mean bagged tea, no matter how fancy either the tea or the presentation box, I mean loose tea. Of course virtually all Chinese restaurants serve loose tea, so I'm also excluding the basic Chinese restaurant, but if you know of one that offers a good selection of teas, that would be worth a mention.

I'll start with a few:

Town Hall (a choice of loose teas served in iron pots)
Absinthe (I don't remember the pots, but they offered a selection of loose teas)
Lalime's (served in those glass pots with the plunger)

Town Hall Restaurant
342 Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94105

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

1329 Gilman, Berkeley, CA 94706

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  1. Koi Palace has the best tea service of any Chinese restaurant I've seen, with a choice of 8 complimentary teas or 10 premium teas.

    1. Bar Tartine serves tea in the glass pots with plungers, IIRC.

      Bar Tartine
      561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

      1. Funny you should mention--I was despairing this morning because most of the brunch places in my neighborhood serve bagged tea, a lot of which is Mighty Leaf (way too perfumey for my taste).

        Modern Tea in Hayes Valley specializes in loose leaf teas and has a full menu. I like the waffles for brunch.

        Modern Tea
        602 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA

        5 Replies
        1. re: pane

          I agree with pane's Modern Tea recommendation. Solid food. Their buttermilk cake (or was it pudding?) with a pot of tea is a great dessert. Gets busy with the pre-Opera/Symphony crowd at dinner.

          1. re: Philip

            I suspect, though, that Ruth was thinking of restaurants that happen to have good tea service, not tea rooms that serve food. Personally I would love a tea house specializing in Chinese teas with complementary (not necessarily complimentary) food, something like Imperial Tea but less precious and less formal. Chatea, the Taiwanese chain comes to mind.

            1. re: Xiao Yang

              Despite its name, Modern Tea is primarily a restaurant. Tea may be their inspiration, but their food is not precious or tea room like.

              Oh, and you might check out the new tea room at Teance in Berkeley, which has just opened on the weekends. They're serving snacks to complement their teas.

              1. re: Windy

                I bet Alice Cravens would tell you she's a tea proselytizer first and foremost.

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  I'm not disputing that. But Modern Tea meets Ruth's definition of a full-service restaurant.

        2. I think the teas served at Slanted Door are loose leaf. I've enjoyed the pueh erh (when available) and the Hong Kong milk teas there. The waiters who served the teas seemed knowledgeable about steeping times and food (at least dessert) complements.

          Does anyone know of restaurants in the South Bay which have good tea service?

          1 Reply
          1. re: sairuh

            Slanted Door has the best tea service of any restaurant I've been to in San Francisco. There's a good selection, it is all loose leaf, and the implements are top notch. Sadly, as the OP noted, good tea service in a restaurant is a rare thing.

          2. It's been a while since I've eaten there, but as I recall, Aziza had a really nice tea selection.

            5800 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94121