Happy international tea day!
Everyone has their favorite neighborhood boba spot, but sometimes, you want something a little more elegant. Maybe you’re planning an upcoming tea party, or just want an excuse to don your new kimono or ao dai. Whatever the occasion, these 10 traditional tea houses across the United States will have the perfect, piping-hot pour ready for you.
Read on to find out where to schedule your next tea time!
Purchased by Reena and Devan Shah in 1993, Chado is a local favorite for afternoon tea with a South Asian twist. Munch on souchong chicken and tea-marinated-egg sandwiches while sipping their ample tea offerings, which include Mauritius black tea and Reena’s chai, at any of Chado’s four Los Angeles locations.
The stunning botanical gardens surrounding Tea Pavilion provide plenty of reasons to drop by this cozy cafe. Located in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park, the Tea Pavilion boasts an extensive tea menu featuring just about every flavor imaginable, from orange blossom oolong to Japanese cherry green tea to Darjeeling badamtam.
Tucked inside the Ferry Building, the Imperial Tea Court is an updated counterpart to the traditional Chinese tea shop and salon. The shop sells an assortment of handmade teaware and over 100 bulk teas, but many drop by to enjoy a cup at one of the rosewood tables inside. If you happen to catch owner Roy Fong, make sure to ask him about his teas for an unforgettable history lesson.
No trip to the Bay would be complete without a stop by Golden Gate Park. To keep the chill off, tourists and locals alike grab a brew at the Japanese Tea Garden, a holdover from the Japanese Village exhibit created for the 1894 World’s Fair. After enjoying the Zen gardens, visitors can sip their drinks seated around the irori-style table or watch koi swim in the nearby South-facing pond.
You may already be familiar with this San Francisco company’s artisanal tea, which is sourced from Chinese growers during peak harvest season and served in restaurants across the country. Tea-ficionados can tour Red Blossom’s showroom and enjoy some dark roast tieguanyin or heritage beidou in S.F.’s Chinatown, where the Luong family founded the brand back in 1985.
As the name implies, Chiya Chai has all your chai cravings covered. The spices used in Chiya Chai’s tea come directly from India, Nepal, and other South Asian regions, meaning that the restaurant’s 150+ chai combinations are both delicious and authentic. With so many options it can be tough to know where to start, so bring some friends along for a top-notch sampling experience.
First Sip Cafe is a local staple for a variety of reasons, including its plant exchange days and being LGBTQ+ friendly. But sister duo Gigi and Erin Hoang offer a robust tea menu, with fruit, herbal, and classic options sure to satisfy even the pickiest of tea connoisseurs. Although not exactly in keeping with the theme of this list, the Vietnamese coffee at First Sip is also a great choice for those seeking a stronger caffeine boost.
Houston might not be the number-one tea destination that comes to mind, but Richard Lin of Ten Yen Tea and Herbs is serving up highly rated pu’er and matcha cups in the city’s Little Saigon district. After sampling the tea, take a moment to peruse the impressive selection that lines the shop’s walls — you might find a new favorite drink to take home.
New York City:
Swing by the tasting room at 29 Avenue B to sample teas you can’t find anywhere else. Owners Stefen Ramirez and Shin Won-Yoon specialize in rare-i-teas (see what we did there?), including sparkling tea and batches that date back to the ‘90s. Feeling snacky? Pair your drink with ochazuke (fish soup) or some rosemary-flavored Marcona almonds.
Setsugekka is here to kick things up a notch. Located in the East Village, this tea house stands apart for its one-of-a-kind tea ceremonies and lessons. If you prefer to leave the tea-making to the pros, Setsugekka has an on-site tea master, Souheki Mori, and the menu offers numerous iterations of matcha, including iced and affogato options.