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Seeking high-end loose teas -- PLEASE HELP

Hey all! I am looking to get my boss a nice holiday gift. I was thinking of getting her a nice high-end loose tea (with a french press and teacup) so she can brew some tea at the office. I'm still fairly uninitiated to the tea shops of LA and am in dire need of a recommendation for a tea that both looks and tastes incredible and is reasonably priced (I have no frame of reference for the price, but I would like to spend less than $25). I would love something incredible to look at while it brews (i have seen some flowers that open in the water), so if you have specific recommendations, I would love to hear those as well...


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  1. Have you checked out Peet's ? They seem to have quite a nice selection of loose teas, and paraphenalia to brew it with ?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikester

      I have been to Peet's, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Teavana (i think it's called that) in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, but I guess I was looking for something slightly more exotic... I know I saw something like this in a korean pharmacy adjacent to a market on Victory & Sepulveda in the valley. They had some cool loose teas that had entire flowers in it, but it was super expensive... If I can't find anything someplace else I will probably hit up the place in the mall by me, but I would love to discover something amazing.

    2. Did you try searching?


      Some valuable threads in there...

      1. I don't remember the prices, but the Palais du The on Canon Drive in BH has a great selection- 401 N Canon Drive. There's also Chado on Third Street just East of the Beverly Center

          1. Hugo's in the valley has some pretty exotic and pricey teas.
            There is also a chinese herb shop on magnolia near lankershim that has assorted teas. That was the only place my wife could find pure, loose sage tea.

            1. Try Elixer on Melrose in West Hollywood. They have lots of gift-worthy tea-related stuff in addition to many loose-leaf teas of high quality.

              I can also second Palais du The on Canon in BH. It is probably not the cheapest way to buy loose leaf tea...but it gets high marks for presentation & selection. (& the tea is good)

              3 Replies
              1. re: evans

                Sadly, Elixir's store is no longer (closed earlier this year), but you can still buy teas/elixirs online:

                I recommend Tea Garden Herbal Emporium, with two WeHo locations:
                9001 Beverly Blvd. (310) 205-0104
                8612 Melrose Ave. (310) 657-9300 (the old Elixir store

                1. re: evans

                  Can't beat Palais des Thes for presentation. They have expensive teas (they showed me a Japanese tea that sold for something like $170 for a minimum purchase), but they also have plenty of less expensive teas as well. I like their Rose du Chine tea -it's a scented black tea. I usually hate scented teas, but I like this one because it is subtle. It is also not terribly expensive.

                  Palais des Thes also has a very nice selection of tea cups and cannisters.

                  1. re: omotosando

                    HIghly recommend LPdT also. I love their Montagne Bleu, a slightly floral black tea. A variety of price points, but top-notch presentation (they are French, after all!)

                2. The kind that looks like an opening flower is jasmine and is usually available in better Chinese tea and herb shops. One of my favorite shops for Chinese tea is Ten Ren in Chinatown:

                  Ten Ren's Tea Time
                  727 N. Broadway Suite 136
                  Los Angeles, CA 90012
                  Tel: 213-626-8844

                  They have many great teas, some of which are really expensive, but you should be able to stay within your budget.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mistr

                    There are many Ten Ren branches in LA, and I noticed last time I stopped in they have new packaging that's more elegant than before.

                  2. Wing Hop Fung in Monterey Park has what you want. They have the ones/flowers that open.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: WHills

                      +1. And it's cheaper than Ten Ren, etc.

                    2. The tea you may be looking for is one of my favorites, Chrysanthemum tea. You can buy the whole flower and it does look pretty and taste great too. Not too strong, mild flavor. Taste good as an ice tea as well.

                      1. i loved loved loved elixir it makes me really sad that they're gone. other than that i would also highly recommend the herbal tea garden right next to the old chasens (bristol farms)....
                        they'll be helpful and keep you in your price range

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: jessiebelle

                          I believe the Tea Garden people took over the old Elixir space and made it a second location.

                          1. re: omotosando

                            i miss the hang over tea concoction they used to make. yum and happiness in a cup

                            1. re: omotosando

                              That location of Tea Garden changed to Dr T a while ago but is now about to turn over yet again. No idea what it will be, but its a beautiful space.

                              1. re: hrhboo

                                Did they close the Tea Garden by Doheny when they took over the Elixir space?

                                1. re: omotosando

                                  I don't know. All I know is that the one on Melrose was replaced by Dr T which is now being replaced by something else.

                          2. You can try Aloha Boba in Monrovia on Huntington (same plaza as Toys R Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc). They have a good selection of loose teas, and I think they do sell "display" or flowering teas. There is also a tea shop at Paseo Colorado (Leaf Forever?), but I have not tried their teas.

                            If you want to order online, you can try Harney & Sons or Adagio.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: dette

                              I will second Aloha Boba. They have a great selection of teas and they will make a great gift basket for you. They also sell an item called the ingenuitea that brews your tea and then strains out the leaves as it pours the tea into your cup. The small one brews 1-2 cups at a time and is a perfect inexpensive gift.

                              There is also a great tea shop in Claremont Village, but I don't remember the name of it. They have a HUGE selection of teas and all the things you would ever want to go with your tea. They have a lot of the more exotic stuff from all over the world.

                            2. You can find some flowering teas here: http://www.mightyleaf.com/searchresul... though i'm not sure if it would ship in time...

                              Urth Caffe also has some nice teas, though its more loose tea and not the ones that are flowering...

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jennp

                                I just received a e-letter from America's Test Kitchen and they recommend MAIL ORDER TEAS FROM UPTON AND STASH

                                My wife and I drink a lot of tea and use loose teas purchased from Upton. She loves a basic Ceylon or English Breakfast; I am addicted to the smoky, “stinky” as she might say, Lapsang Souchong. They also offer many samplers so you can try a wide range of styles without being stuck with a 500-gram tin. Sure, there are lots of places to purchase loose tea but we have always been happy with the quality and service at Upton. You can purchase tins or packets from 15 up to 1,000 grams. However, they don’t sell our favorite after-dinner tea, Linden Flower, which is available from Stash Tea. We serve it with a splash of Orange Blossom Water and a half-spoon of honey. Just the thing before “lights out.” Stash also sells cast iron teapots from Japan that are enameled on the inside—take a look at the Dragonfly Tetsubin Teapot. If you pre-warm them with hot water, they keep tea hot for a long time.



                                1. re: luswei

                                  I can also recommend Harney & Sons Fine Teas for mail order. www.harney.com. I've been impressed with their quality & variety; they do several of their own blends.

                              2. Also recommend Takashimaya. When my hubby worked for the Japanese consulate, many of his colleagues enjoyed the tea purchased here.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: luswei

                                  Thank you so much for your feedback on Ducky Life Tea!
                                  I am the Top Duck!
                                  We like to think that our teas are amongst the best in the world -- we work hard at it. But seeing it here -- is very gratifying!
                                  Please, send me your address, and I will send you a tin or two of tea!

                                2. A friend just introduced us via a gift to DuckyLife tea. I don't know much about teas, but DH does, and he quickly took MY gift of five tins and declared it some of the best teas he's ever had. They were packaged very nicely and they seem to have attractive gift sets.


                                  1. We gave similar gifts a few years back (We also added a 'bear' of our favorite local honey) and we used Urth Cafe Teas. They are just lovely in the french press (That is what they use too) and Urth still has that trendy cache... They also aren't crazy expensive either...


                                    1. I get my loose tea from either:
                                      1) Bamboo Tea House on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena (they have another store in Claremont); or 2) Lupicia Teas at Century City mall (have another location in Topanga Canyon mall).

                                      They've got several varieties of teas in a wide range of prices. Bamboo Tea House also has a variety of Japanese cast iron tea pots in pretty colors and designs.

                                      Bamboo Tea House sells loose leaves from canisters and you select the amount and they place in a bag and seal it up. Lupicia sells their teas already pre-packaged. You might want to consider this if your boss is picky about where she gets her foodstuff.

                                      1. Palais des Thes at Beverly Hills is the best overall loose tea, I think, and I've tried quite a few. They have a gift box of multi canisters sets of teas that makes a very elegant presentation, but I think its more than $25. If you go try one of their more well known teas - it is called du Hamman. You can get a bag of that for $12-15, I think.

                                        Another suggestion is Lupicia at Century City Mall. It's from Japan and they had a set of flowering teas like you described in a gift box - at least about a year ago when I was looking for Xmas gifts they had them (got it for my Dad). I think the set is $25-30. Individual pre-packaged teas there is about $8. Another one I liked there is strawberry champagne.

                                        Another commonly loved tea is Mariage Freres. You can find their most popular flavor Marco Polo at most Williams-Sonoma stores. About $15 a can.

                                        Uptown is OK, but the packaging is a bit utilitarian.

                                        Chado has a big selection and a lot of teapots and accessories. But so far I still have not found a tea there that I like. They do have the flowering tea though, and I think they have a set.

                                        Anyway, $25 doesn't go very far if you include french press, tea cup and tea. You may want to look for mugs that have strainers and a lid instead of the french press and tea cup. If you are set on flowering teas the best display for them are glass cups. They looked nice but personally I don't find them too incredible in terms of taste.

                                        1. I know that it may be too late, but found this website for loose tea and other stuff...

                                          1. Ten Ren is all my DH drinks. Cheaper than Palais du The, too. Not as trendy/ pretty, but good and authentic.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bicoastalfoodie

                                              I actually think Ten Ren is superior for all Chinese teas, especiall high mountain oolong from Taiwan/Formosa. Palais is great for European tea, but their Chinese varieties don't pack enough flavor for me.

                                              1. re: Pei

                                                The problem with Ten Ren is that you MUST know what you are doing. It's too easy for them to cheat you if you're a novice. If you're looking for something to brew in your pot at work to keep you going, you don't need $120 a pound top-quality long jing.

                                                Also, you must watch them weigh your tea -- if you ask for a quarter pound, they have tried to give me 0.19 (which included the bag!!) and a very loud, insulting fight in Chinese resulted. This was in the store at the Great Mall of China -- the store in Anaheim is much less difficult but the warning about the upsell still applies.

                                            2. Too late for the OP, but anyone looking for a glass teapot with the tea that opens up in the water (valentine's day coming up..), the recent Sur La Table catalog featured one from Teaposy:


                                              1. Also too late for the OP, but for posterity, I'll make my usual plug.... if you can make the trip, check out Tea Habitat in RPV. See http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416979 and http://www.chowhound.com/topics/310655 for some other threads on good tea places in LA (and online), and general information about tea. The owner, Imen, has a good selection of Chinese and Taiwanese teas, especially Phoenix Mountain Dan Cong. She also has occasional classes (there was a recent Pu'erh class there, taught by Jason F. of the Livejournal Pu'erh tea community. http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/200... has some pictures, and http://tea-obsession.blogspot.com/200... has an agenda.

                                                Ten Ren mostly has Taiwanese stuff (though the one on Valley has a Ten Fu, the mainland version of Ten Ren, on one half). Most of the ones in the LA area are kind of pushy, and the tea is just so-so from my limited experience. If you like a certain style of Taiwanese tea, it's Ok, and probably better than a lot of other stuff around, but not the greatest.

                                                Wing Hop Fung has a few good teas; however, the people who brew there do not brew to my taste, so I have a hard time finding anything there. But it's a great place to get cheap tea utensils, electric kettles, etc. By the way, they (Wing Hop Fung) are opening a couple of tea houses in the area (one in Pasadena, and one somewhere else) called Bird Picked or Bird Pick or something. The gf's mom (who does some work for them) got some advance samples of some of their stuff, and seems like they're going to be selling a lot of teabag type stuff; hopefully they'll also have some whole leaf teas at the actual teahouse.

                                                The flowering teas are really mostly for show, and do not really taste that great - most of them taste like generic jasmine black tea. Personally, I think most whole leaf tea leaves are beautiful, and should be appreciated, but I'd rather have a tea that tastes good than one that looks good. That said, you can get the flowering tea balls a lot of places.

                                                1. i agree with the above posters on WING HOP FUN. phenomenal tea selection. also LA MILL COFFEE carries very lovely teas and supplies tea to their buds at INTELLIGENSIA (no pun intended).