Top Tea Times
in San Francisco Bay Area
article and images by Carole Terwilliger Meyers
“Tea urges tranquility of the soul.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In England, a proper afternoon tea (sometimes called cream tea) is an elegant affair served in three stages, or all at once on a tiered tray. High tea is early supper and not at all special–perhaps a boiled egg and some toast. However, in the U.S. high tea refers to afternoon tea. Hope you aren’t confused. A few rules go with afternoon tea. Eat the scones first, then the savories and sandwiches, and the sweets last. Pinch the teacup handle raising your pinkie in the air, and never leave your spoon in the cup.
It is interesting to know that all tea types come from the same plant. Leaves receive different amounts of oxygen during processing, which is what makes them black, green, or oolong (in between black and green). Black teas get more oxygen, green teas get less. Unprocessed leaves make white tea.
I’ve personally enjoyed many of the tea times in this compilation. I hope you’ll get to try some of these yourself in your own travels.
Some of these tea times are more modest than a full-on afternoon tea; they are noted with **.
Top Tea Times in San Francisco
As the King said in “Alice in Wonderland,” let’s “begin at the beginning.” For me that is tea times in my home town, San Francisco. From here, we will expand into the immediate Bay Area and the rest of Northern California.
San Francisco Tea Times That Will Take You Around the World
Five Places: Tea Rooms
Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon
Laurel Court Restaurant
In the Fairmont San Francisco hotel.
Imperial Tea Court**
In Ferry Building.
Japanese Tea Garden teahouse**
In Golden Gate Park
Lovejoy’s Tea Room
In Noe Valley.
On Market Street.
In Neiman Marcus, Union Square.
Top of the Mark
In InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco. In December this is iconic bar turns itself over to Holiday Teas. But never fear, cocktails are also still served.
Top Tea Times Around the Bay
Tyme for Tea & Co.
In Niles area.
Lisa’s Tea Treasures
On Main Street.
Sophie’s Cuppa Tea**
In Montclair village.
On Ramona Street.
Top Tea Times in the Rest of Northern California
COLUMBIA STATE HISTORIC PARK
Columbia Kate’s Teahouse
On Columbia St., back from the main street.
Green Gulch Farm**
A Sunday Tea Gathering occurs in a tea house built in the traditional Japanese style.
Top Tea Times Around the World
It’s Always Tea Time Somewhere
These are all places I’ve personally visited.
Top Tea Times in the Rest of the U.S.
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach
At Veranda at the Beachhouse. The banyan tree here came from India and is older than the hotel.
High Tea has taken place in the parlor for more than 100 years.
Emlen Physick Estate
In the Cafe.
Top Tea Times Abroad
Fairmont Banff Springs
The Rocky Mountain Afternoon Tea is taken in the Rundle Lounge.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
In the Lakeview Lounge with a view of the lake and Victoria Glacier; within Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel
In Lobby Lounge.
The Butchart Gardens
Special vegetarian and children’s tea menu in summer.
Shu Feng Ya Yun Teahouse**
Enjoyed while watching Sichuan Opera.
Originally in The Lobby.
●YAN’AN, in Shaanxi Province
This video depicts a Chinese tea ceremony. The way the lady makes the presentation is like a little dance.
Yak Butter Tea**
Served in various shops and restaurants in the remote Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province.
article: 2 Spot-On Teas for 2 Near London’s Hyde Park
On Park Lane.
Kensington Palace Pavilion Tea Room
Afternoon tea service runs from noon to 6 p.m. in this this elegant Georgian structure (it was once the palace’s citrus house) built in 1704 for Queen Anne.
The Lanesborough, London
Across from Hyde Park.
The Langham, London
Afternoon tea at has been a tradition in the Palm Court here since 1865. In fact, the hotel claims it is the site where afternoon tea was invented.
The Montague on the Gardens
In Bloomsbury. The hotel is a joining of nine Georgian houses dating to 1815 that were once part of the Duke of Bedford’s estate. It was the 7th Duchess of Bedford who gave afternoon tea its name in the early 1800s. A pianist plays on Sundays.
The Original Maids of Honour
Near the main Victoria Gate entrance Kew Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Ritz London
The most expensive tea in London. Reserve 4 weeks ahead.
Yew Tree Farm**
Once owned by Beatrix Potter, this farm’s Herdwicks Cafe tea room is now restored and reopened and is decorated with Potter’s original furnishings. The terrific clotted cream and scrumptious housemade wild Damson plum jam are to-die for.
Belinda’s Tea Rooms
Near Amberley Castle. Everything is made in house at this 16th century tea room.
In Salon Proust. A refined tea is served on white Limoges porcelain by Havilland. My tea of choice is the fragrant and divine Ritzy Earl Grey.
This video depicts an informal tea at Skorrastaour farm in the valley of Nordfjordur.
Served in the magnificent, yet casual, Drawing Room lounge of Ashford Castle.
The Merrion hotel’s famous Art Tea is served in the Drawing Rooms lounges.
I visited this facility to learn about geothermal dyeing. After completing our project, we trekked through the snow to a warm shop where we sipped tea while our hankies were ironed.
Chun Shui Tang Cultural Tea House**
Cold pearl milk tea—also known in the U.S. as bubble or boba tea–originated at this Taiwan tea house in the early 1980s. Now you can take a do-it-yourself workshop that teaches you how to make both that and the original cold Chinese tea.
(www.berkeleyandbeyond2.com; copyright Carole Terwilliger Meyers)