Q: Where to Purchase "Gourmet" Tea (OC)
I have a friend who seems to be enamored of fine teas, and I'd like to buy him something appropriately upper-class as a holiday gift.
My problem is that I'm a coffee drinker, and tea to me tastes like clove water. I just never developed an affinity for the brew, so I can't rely on my own experiences to select something.
I recall in the Chinatown area of S.F. various tea merchants with huge numbers of teas with varying grades, the most expensive of which made Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee look cheap.
I've bought stuff like "Republic of Tea" for my wife. But perhaps someone here can suggest a place to visit, ideally in central to southern Orange County. I'll go further if I have to, but let's see what's in this general area first.
I love both Coffee and Tea... so my first thought was Portola, they sell some really great blends and tea accessories.
For luxury loose leaf (things like Oolongs and Pearl Jasmine), Ten Ren has a location in Anaheim. It helps to know what you want and be clear about your budget, as everything is priced by the Lbs (For a good supply of tea, I am fine with 3oz)
Buying tea for someone who's a big tea lover is tricky in the first place. There is also not a lot in OC. Ten Li in Fountain Valley is probably your best bet; you could also check out Ten Lei in Westminster. But overall, buying online may be a better bet. Asking your friend what kind of teas he likes specifically, or to suggest a merchant he likes may also be a good idea.
How nice - with thanks to the other respondents, this is quite convenient. They have a nice website and online gift certificates. I could give him a gift certificate and even drive him over there on a weekend, as we often do the NYT crossword at a coffee shop on both weekend days.
You're unlikely to find any place like that in the OC - I don't know about LA.
My favorite teas are currently from Harney & Sons - you can order online and have it shipped: http://harney.com/
The blended black teas rival what you can get in the UK and in fact, is used at at the Dorchester. The sencha green tea is quite nice as well. Buy the silk satchets which are filled with the tea leaves - they are beautiful.