Feb 23 2009

Day Two in San Francisco


On my second day in S.F. my personalized tour continued. My friend Wendy McPhee, of Longevite Tea, picked me up in the morning and we proceeded to enjoy tea at three very different tea establishments.

First stop was Imperial Tea Court in the Ferry Building. Owned by long time tea guru, Roy Fong, this reminded me of the tea houses in China. Dark wooden tables and chairs in a quiet atmosphere of good tea and accompaniments. We shared an order of dumplings to tide us over which were superb. The tea service was gaiwan style, the waiter quite knowledgeable and thorough in his explanations. Browsing the assortment of teas and accoutrements before we moved on made me want to return to this interesting shop later in my stay.

After touring a bit of San Francisco, we headed to the Mission District for our 2 o’clock reservation at Lovejoy’s Tea Room .

me-and-wendy-at-imperial-tea-court.JPGThis was traditional afternoon tea, Scottish style. The tea room is an eclectic jumble of western style tables covered with linens, with a mix and match assortment of china and place settings, three tiered servers, tea pots, and accoutrements. Lace curtains swept to the sides of the windows. British sideboards were filled with tea wares and gift items for sale. The room was filled with parties of one, two, or large celebrations. We shared the three tiered tea service which included finger sandwiches, salad greens, scones, and cookies. Our own pots of tea were hot and well prepared. The server was cheerful and friendly. All together a lovely, pleasant respite for the late afternoon chat, followed by a browse of Lovejoy’s Gift Shop located in a separate building across the street.

Our third tea adventure took us across the Bay Bridge to Berkely. Our destination here was  the tea shop and tea bar Teance. This contemporary space is a study in serenity and art. A carefully planned and designed establishment, located in a very busy shopping strip, one is greeted upon entering by the calming water feature just inside the entrance with a small garden statue, trickling water and gold fish swimming in the large ceramic pot.

The walls are lined with open shelves filled with an array of fine teas, teapots, pitchers, trays, cups, scoops, and all manner of other fine wares. At the back of the shop is the bar where one sits and for $5.00 can have a gaiwan serving of any tea on the menu.This includes many re-infusions of the leaves for as long as they hold their flavor, which can be through 5 or more infusions. The bar itself is a tea lovers dream. Designed of pigmented and formed cement with a metal grid, it allows spilled water or tea to drip through to the built in drains. Our tea server was extremely professional, knowledgeable, and efficient. I enjoyed a superb 15 year old Pu-ehr which was vey smooth, bright, and still going strong after 5 infusions. The other teas I saw people enjoying appeared equally well prepared and of the finest quality. 15 year old Pu-ehr Cloud and Mist, Gaiwan Style

This was another perfect day in San Francisco, thanks to good friends, the smile of the good weather spirit, and a beautiful city!

Next up, the Tea Class!