The Tea Drinkers' Guide to Los Angeles
It’s easy to feel like everyone drinks coffee in the United States, but tea’s pretty popular, too. Not in the same way it is in the United Kingdom and other countries, of course. But you can still find plenty of tea drinkers on this side of the pond. That might be because, as it turns out, tea is pretty healthy for you, and it still provides that caffeine pick-me-up you’re looking for.
If you’re more a tea drinker like myself, and you’re looking to branch out from the standard selections at your local Starbucks/Coffee Bean/Peet’s, consider this your guide to finding the best (hot or cold) cup in Los Angeles.
Bird Pick Tea & Herb - Pasadena
Bird Pick Tea & Herb’s Pasadena flagship store pledges to bring health and well-being to customers through natural products. And while they’re at it, they’re looking to help visitors discover tea in new ways. The tea bar features a host of drink combinations and a long list of possible varieties to choose from. For the adventurous, it can be an experimental experience as they help you find the perfect drink match.
Cafe Giverny - Koreatown
Koreatown’s Cafe Giverny is more of a formal tea experience, with Victorian decor, classical music, and vintage china. From the outside, it may appear to be a hole in the wall. But inside, the quiet space is full of hot teas, cakes, and fruit to transport visitors far away from the daily grind of LA right outside the cafe’s doors.
Chado Tea Room - Various
There are numerous Chado Tea Room locations throughout LA (and one in India), but the Pasadena locale is perhaps the best. The space has over 300 teas to choose from and a knowledgeable staff to help navigate the menu. It’s also a popular venue for small gatherings, with its old-fashioned decor and relaxing atmosphere around afternoon tea.
Hi SocieTEA - Hollywood
Hollywood’s Hi SocieTEA lives up to its name with a formal atmosphere and traditional high tea arrangements, including lengthy menus for teas, sandwiches, and desserts. Reserving a table ahead of time can also shorten your stay, as they prepare the food in advance for you. The level of detail is the highlight, however, so best to stick around awhile.
Pearl’s Finest Teas - Beverly Grove
In Beverly Grove, you’ll find Pearl’s Finest Teas to be a bit of an Instagram spot, but that’s due to the elaborate list of tea drinks they make — lattes, bubble teas, milk teas, and your more standard fare as well. Among the most photographed include the Chamango (blended mango with Mexican spices) and the Horchata Milk Tea (your typical cinnamon and rice, plus black tea).
The Living Room - Beverly Hills
Right across from the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills is the Peninsula, and inside, you’ll find the Living Room, a reasonable substitute for the type of formal, afternoon tea you’d find in London. Finger sandwiches and pastries come with the modest list of teas amid comfortable chairs in the bright room. The ambiance has gained such a reputation that reservations are now required nearly a month out. It’s also among the priciest tea spots in LA, at $60 apiece (to start).
The T Room - Glendale
Surrounded by the various mom & pop shops in Montrose (Glendale), the T Room provides a variety of meal options for lunch, afternoon tea, and even more kid-focused tea experiences. The loose leaf teas come from all over the world, bringing with them a story of how they became popular. Blended options also create numerous customized teas all their own.
Tea Master Matcha & Green Tea Shop - Little Tokyo
Hopefully, you like green tea because that’s what Little Tokyo’s Tea Master Matcha & Green Tea Shop sells, albeit in various forms. The menu includes hot or cold teas, lattes, and matcha options. But also, tea bowls, tea ice cream, and smoothies. It’s really a salute to doing the most with green tea, in terms of both beverages and desserts.
TeaPop - North Hollywood
TeaPop is loud both inside and out (there’s also seating both inside and out, too). But the tea/art pairing works for the space, which boldly trots out a collection of beverages ranging from milk teas, blends, lattes, and a variety of fresh brew/syrup combinations. Check out the outdoor art, or take in the musical chaos indoors. It’s an experience befitting of the North Hollywood Arts District it butts up against.
Tres by José Andrés - Beverly Grove
Tres by José Andrés in Beverly Grove is known for its chic dining areas to fit all kinds of occasions. But in the afternoon, that occasion is probably high tea, which runs from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The relaxing atmosphere lets you pick from a number of teas while enjoying the traditional fare found at afternoon teas around the world. Tres also brings its own sensibilities to the meal, including the Rice Crispy Bon Bon.