Tea in the Bay Area…

We’ll be there next month; I’ll have to check out at least one of these!  Have you visited a tea place in the U.S. that you’d recommend?

Golden_Gate_Bridge,_San_Francisco_and_Sutro_Tower

Guide to Tea in the Bay Area

Since I recently moved to the Bay Area (for a job in tea), it’s only appropriate that I post a guide to the area’s rich tea culture. You may not be aware, but the Bay Area is a hotbed of tea culture, nowhere else in the states can seem to support such a slew of high-end tea shops. What set the stage for such a great tea-scene? Well nearly a quarter of people in the Bay Area are of Asian descent and in the 1990s, David Lee Hoffman and Roy Fong began importing Chinese teas, the likes of which Americans hadn’t seen. Since then, specialty tea has spread across the United States but the Bay Area still has the largest collection of high-end tea shops. Let’s dig into the list. If I’ve omitted any that you believe should be in the list, please let me know.

San Francisco

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Red Blossom

One of the most well-known tea shops in the Bay Area, Red Blossom sources all of their tea and tea ware directly from a community of growers and artisans in China and Taiwan. There is no formal sit-down area in this shop, but they will do gongfu samples for you of their teas before you buy them. 831 Grant Avenue San Francisco, California 94108 Website.

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Song Tea and Ceramics

Song Tea and Ceramics was started by Peter Luong who used to source teas for Red Blossom. Song Tea and Ceramics takes the Red Blossom concept to the next level with higher quality tea and a larger selection of artisan tea ware. There is no formal sit-down area in this shop, but they will pour samples for you of their teas before you buy them. 2120 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA Website.

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Imperial Tea Court

Imperial Tea Court was started by one of the pioneers in the US tea industry, Roy Fong. His first shop opened in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1993. His flagship is now located in the Ferry Building and serves food (try the hand-pulled noodles) as well as his fantastic Chinese teas. In The San Francisco Ferry Building 1 Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA. Website.

samovar

Samovar

Samovar was founded by Jesse Jacobs and quickly expanded around the San Francisco area. Each shop is a bit different, but each one serves tea and light meals. There are now four locations in San Francisco including their new concept shop in the Mission featuring a row of Alpha Dominche Steampunk Brew Machines. Website.

 teaoasis

Tea Oasis

Posted with permission from the owner, Tea Oasis is an underground membership-based tea house and community space. The space has several stations where you can pour your choice of tea gongfu-style. Be sure to check out the manifesto before you go. Website.

North Bay

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Western Gate

The Western Gate is a non-profit, community-centered Teahouse and Book Commons located in the San Geronimo Valley of West Marin County, California. The teahouse features a small sit-down area where you can enjoy gongfu style tea. Lagunitas Station 7282 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Lagunitas, CA. Website.

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Desta Tea

This tea and art gallery features the many teas both single-origin and flavored as well as art from artisans around the world. 417 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo CA. Website.

East Bay

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Far Leaves Tea

This Chinese style tea house in Berkeley has a comfortable urban vibe. There is a large sit-down cafe serving tea (mostly gongfu style) and light snacks. Far Leaves also has an area for musical performances so if you are lucky, you’ll catch one. 2626 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702. Website.

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Teance

Founded in 2002 by Winnie Yu, Teance is known for their beautiful tea bar in the back of the shop where you can sit and enjoy a gongfu service with many of the teas in the shop. This shop is definitely a must-visit if you are in the Berkeley area. 1780 4th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. Website.

imperial-tea-court-berkeley

Imperial Tea Court

Imperial Tea Court was started by one of the pioneers in the US tea industry, Roy Fong. His first shop opened in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1993. He now has two shops, one in San Francisco’s Ferry Building and this one in Berkeley that serves food (try the hand-pulled noodles) as well as his fantastic Chinese teas. 1511 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709. Website.

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