Tea is an ancient tradition enjoyed throughout the ages across places and cultures. Luckily, today in San Francisco, we have wide selection of tea styles to choose from. Here are some of the best places in San Francisco to get a proper cuppa.Read More
A Guide to Drinking Tea in San Francisco
1. Asha Tea House
Asha Tea House is a soothing oasis among the bustling Market Street where you can grab a cup of globally-sourced, organic tea that ranges from traditional cups like oolongs and tisanes to more playful and indulgent options like a matcha affogato or pumpkin chai latte.
2. Boba Guys
Initially a kickstarter, Boba Guys has morphed into a Taiwanese tea shop with multiple locations across San Francisco. The founders aspire to a bold claim: to serve the highest quality boba in the world. This means the regular roster of milk teas, plus premium loose leaf teas like muscat oolong, lychee green tea, and Hojicha. You choose the sweetness and amount of milk for each cup you order.
3. Craftsman and Wolves
You might know Craftsmen and Wolves for its now iconic The Rebel Inside — a perfectly-cooked soft-boiled egg with runny yolk nestled inside a savory breakfast biscuit. But what you might not know is that the bakery also has a thoughtful tea selection to wash down its artful pastries. Choose from a lightly-sweetened matcha latte, oolong tea by Naivetea, and a market-inspired tisane made from fresh herbs in-season steeped in hot water.
Michelin-starred Mourad offers a soothing cup of traditionally-inspired Moroccan tea by seeping together gun powder green tea from Red Blossom Tea Company, lemon verbena, orange blossom water, and white sugar, and all in an incredibly luxe setting.
5. Palace Hotel
Treat yourself to a British-style afternoon tea by visiting the Palace Hotel's ornate Garden Court, an inside courtyard with soaring ceilings first built in the Victorian Era then remodeled last year. Tea and snacks are available a la carte or as full tea service, starting at $68 to $75 with a glass of bubbly.
In the growing trend of gourmet tapioca milk tea in the city, Plentea consistently draws lines that snake out of the door. Unlike other boba shops, Plentea's drinks are served in glass bottles, which — when brought back — give you a 10 percent discount on your next purchase. The shop showcases a wide menu of boba using the tea of your choosing (oolong, green, and black) and various toppings like taro pudding, egg pudding, chia seeds, red bean, and aloe — a surprisingly delicious combination popular in Asia.
7. Quickly 快可立
Located across the city, Quickly is something like the Starbucks for Taiwanese-style milk tea with chewy tapioca. The shop is what the name implies: an inexpensive pit stop for a quick cup of boba.
8. Red Blossom Tea Company
Red Blossom's high-quality tea is so popular among restaurants that you may have tried the brew without ever stepping foot into its Chinatown shop. Its brick and mortar, however, offers shelves and shelves of more leaves, sold by type of leaf, region, and year. Passionate sellers will talk to you about the tea's tasting notes that are so specific and subtle, it may remind you more of wine than tea.
9. Samovar Tea Lounge
Samovar has cafes across the city that offer a comfortable and calm place to sit back and enjoy one of the many teas on their menu. There are a variety of tea styles more accessible to a mainstream audience, with traditions sweeping from Indian Chai to Japanese matcha, from Chinese pu er to Ecuadorian cacao husks. Of note is the Japanese Gyuokuro, a thick and savory green tea, served green as grass.
10. Song Tea & Ceramics
Song Tea is a boutique shop that works with tea growers and artists to curate a rare selection of leaves and ceramics. You can stop by the tasting room in Japantown to try a sip and learn more about the deep growers' tradition of tea.
11. Ten Ren's Tea
Ten Ren is a Chinese tea chain available in select cities across the world. In addition to buying tea off the shelf, customers can also grab made-to-order teas and milk teas. Of note is the creamy and savory almond milk tea with tapioca.
12. Vital Tea Leaf
If you're walking through Chinatown, you're bound to stumble upon one of Vital Tea Leaf's three tea shops, ushering you to step inside and take a seat at the tea bar. Staff workers will enthusiastically present a free tasting and educate sippers about Chinese tea, which they source from China and Taiwan. Sales tactic? Perhaps. But still as fun as it is educational. Their Blue People Oolong offers a solid coffee alternative, using an added kick of sweet ginseng in the tea.