Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA


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Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby brose » Dec 15th, '12, 21:04

I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for tea vendors around Los Angeles and San Francisco. I will be visiting there for a couple of weeks and would like to find a few nice places. In my mind a tea shop it not a proper English tea place and has at least one or two sleections of full cakes of puerh. I know theres some good ones there, I just don't remember which they are and the Tea Map is chock full of english tea places.
Thanks
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby debunix » Dec 15th, '12, 21:25

Wing Hop Fung (two stores in LA, one in Chinatown, and one in Monterey Park) has a large selection of puerh. The labels are generally quite brief, not really enough for this pu newbie to really figure out, so my buys there have been occasional, but aside from one 'flower' puerh that seemed more about pretty than flavor, I've enjoyed my discoveries from there. I've not seen a large selection of puerh at the other handful of shops I've checked out--chadotea, ten ren, a couple of others whose names I can't remember, or that are no longer in business. I did get a nice, reasonably priced shu pu from Ten Ren, but it was one of only a handful of options.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby victoria3 » Mar 18th, '13, 19:37

I just found out Bird Pick has a big new location here on the west side in Santa Monica, one block from the ocean. They served me several oolongs gong fu style so I could taste them, very nice. It's a big place selling many teas out of glass bins and tea accessories. Knowing the owner is Chinese I focused on Chinese teas. I'm glad there is a location that I can take a stroll to. I've also found some good Japanese teas in Los Angeles at; Nijia, Matsuwa, and Marukai Japanese Markets.
Erik serving Oolong at Bird Pick.jpg
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby BioHorn » Mar 18th, '13, 20:00

brose wrote:I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for tea vendors around Los Angeles and San Francisco. I will be visiting there for a couple of weeks and would like to find a few nice places. In my mind a tea shop it not a proper English tea place and has at least one or two sleections of full cakes of puerh. I know theres some good ones there, I just don't remember which they are and the Tea Map is chock full of english tea places.
Thanks

If you like Phoenix Dan Cong, be sure to touch base with Imen at TeaHabitat.
http://www.teahabitat.com
Last edited by BioHorn on Mar 18th, '13, 20:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 18th, '13, 20:08

victoria3 wrote: I've also found some good Japanese teas in Los Angeles at; Nijia, Matsuwa, and Marukai Japanese Markets.


I'm in San Diego and we have these Japanese stores too. I haven't had good experiences with supermarket teas so I haven't considered buying tea from these places. Are there some you could recommend? Photos of the containers would be ideal so that I could find them easier.

Thanks!
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby victoria3 » Mar 19th, '13, 19:34

Muadeeb wrote:I'm in San Diego and we have these Japanese stores too. I haven't had good experiences with supermarket teas so I haven't considered buying tea from these places. Are there some you could recommend? Photos of the containers would be ideal so that I could find them easier.

Nijia Market teas that I've liked the best so far are;
Premium Tokujo Fukamushi Sencha Tea by Orita-En &
Maeda-End 2012 New Crop Shin-Cha Green Tea
I've purchased many lowers priced greens there also, but have been disappointed to find they have not been consistent package to package.
Premium-Fukamushi-Sencha.jpg
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Maeda-en-2012 New Crop-Shin-Cha-green-tea2.jpg
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On Steepster I posted a few reviews of Nijia Market purchases, my name there is 'Victoria'. Eventually I hope to post more reviews there so I can keep track.

Mitsuwa Market teas that I have are all in Japanese so I asked the manager to translate as best she could. I purchased several but only tried two so far. I can recommend to date;
ITO EN's Ichiban Tsumi Oishi Ocha, Okumidori-Blend
ITO-EN-Ichiban-Tsumi-Oishi-Ocha_Okumidori-Blend.jpg
ITO-EN-Ichiban-Tsumi-Oishi-Ocha_Okumidori-Blend.jpg (59.24 KiB) Viewed 1200 times

My favorite tea from Mitsuwa Market is; ITO EN Ichiban-Tsumi Oishi Ocha_Kanaya Midori Blend.
I can post more teas after I've had a change to log results and take pictures.
Last edited by victoria3 on May 3rd, '13, 14:19, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby wyardley » Mar 19th, '13, 20:25

Nowhere I'd really recommend in LA area. Check out Wing Hop Fung if you want; I slightly prefer the Monterey Park one. The tea is mostly just Ok, and you will not get it brewed very well if you test anything, but there are a few gems, and there is some cheap teaware if you're looking for cheapo cups, gaiwans, tea towels, and that kind of thing.

Bana Tea and Tea Habitat are both local, but neither have a brick and mortar (both do occasionally do events from time to time). Do check this out if it coincides with your trip.
http://www.teahabitat.com/store/index.p ... cts_id=365

Bay Area, Red Blossom and Teance are probably worth visiting. I'm not massively blown away by either, and if you're not already out in the E Bay, Teance can probably be happily skipped. I like the Berkeley ITC location, though not for the tea, but the ferry building one kind of sucks.

My wife's friend works with a place in Berkeley called Asha Tea. The space looks nice, though from what I've heard, the setup is a little awkward. But they have some of their higher end teas available to consume on premises, along with some tea snacks. I haven't had a chance to try it myself, yet.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby tst » Mar 19th, '13, 20:50

Haven't been to Red Blossom, but visited Teance a couple years back. I'm not sure if anything has changed since I visited, but there's a reason I never returned (staff seemed pretty arrogant as well). It seemed like the all-too-common overpriced, fluffy tea vendor.

Very expensive for what you get in my opinion. You can very easily find much better price/quality teas online.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby wyardley » Mar 20th, '13, 02:13

tst wrote:Haven't been to Red Blossom, but visited Teance a couple years back. I'm not sure if anything has changed since I visited, but there's a reason I never returned (staff seemed pretty arrogant as well). It seemed like the all-too-common overpriced, fluffy tea vendor.

I was served by the owner the one time I visited (probably 5 years back maybe?), and she was helpful and friendly. I have heard the same complaint you mentioned from other people who have visited in person.

The design of the shop itself is nice (if memory serves, it won some awards).

I agree that the tea there is nothing special, and it is expensive.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby victoria3 » Apr 15th, '13, 19:27

I just went to get a few Japanese knives sharpened at 'Japanese Knife Imports' at 1501 Main Street, Venice, CA 90291 and wow they have stunning ceramics for sale also by Mitsufumi Motomura and Sachi Motomura. The work is spectacular. The prices are so high I asked if they were in yen. Sorry my phone pictures are crappy, they are much better in person.
Mitsufumi Motomura-Chawan-at-Japanese-Knif-Imports.jpg
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Sachi Motomura-Yunomi-at-Japanese-Knif-Imports.jpg
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby debunix » Apr 15th, '13, 23:19

How well did they handle your knives?
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby AdamMY » Apr 15th, '13, 23:33

victoria3 wrote:The work is spectacular. The prices are so high I asked if they were in yen.


Do you happen to know the current Japanese Yen Exchange rate? Or even what the exchange rate has been the past few years? I only ask because that could have came accross as a huge insult. While I could not make out the prices on the items inside the glass case, the one shot looks like it has a price of $455 or so. Which yes while it can seem like a high price, surely you did not think it was a $4.50-$6 piece of hand made ceramics? ($4.50 using the roughly 100JPY to 1 USD of today, and the $6 using the roughly 75 JPY to USD it has been in the past few years) .

I also point this out becasue the items in the glass case look very nice even from the cell phone picture. That even if the price was in the 4 digit amount I would have a hard time belivng Japanese Yen, unless it was rather high 4 digits. As using todays rates 5000JPY is basically 50 dollars, and they all look far better than 50 dollar items.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby victoria3 » Apr 16th, '13, 01:33

debunix wrote:How well did they handle your knives?

Oh yes he is an expert 'sharpener', he's an American chef who went to Japan to cook and learned there about the art of sharpening. Their knives are top he supplies to restaurants; http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby victoria3 » Apr 16th, '13, 01:45

AdamMY wrote:
victoria3 wrote:The work is spectacular. The prices are so high I asked if they were in yen.


Do you happen to know the current Japanese Yen Exchange rate? Or even what the exchange rate has been the past few years? I only ask because that could have came accross as a huge insult. While I could not make out the prices on the items inside the glass case, the one shot looks like it has a price of $455 or so. Which yes while it can seem like a high price, surely you did not think it was a $4.50-$6 piece of hand made ceramics? ($4.50 using the roughly 100JPY to 1 USD of today, and the $6 using the roughly 75 JPY to USD it has been in the past few years) .

I also point this out because the items in the glass case look very nice even from the cell phone picture. That even if the price was in the 4 digit amount I would have a hard time believing Japanese Yen, unless it was rather high 4 digits. As using todays rates 5000JPY is basically 50 dollars, and they all look far better than 50 dollar items.

Hi Adam, I actually thought of you when I saw some of these amazing pieces because of your various posts. Yes, I know the value of the yen. The ceremonial grade chawan are priced at 1,400-2,000$ and yunomi more reasonably at 250$. My archery contact here tells me ceremonial grade pieces can commonly go for 20,000$ and then the owner said these prices are actually considered inexpensive in Japan. Definitely expertly made and worth seeing in person.
p.s. and yes when I blurted out sarcastically "are these prices in yen?" I immediately realized I'd made a faux pas, although I'm always looking for a bargain.
Last edited by victoria3 on Apr 17th, '13, 03:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tea Vendors in Los Angeles and San Francisco CA

Postby debunix » Apr 16th, '13, 02:19

victoria3 wrote:
debunix wrote:How well did they handle your knives?

Oh yes he is an expert 'sharpener', he's an American chef who went to Japan to cook and learned there about the art of sharpening. Their knives are top he supplies to restaurants; http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/


Sounds excellent. I have been known to mail my japanese knives to The Japan Woodworker in Alameda when they needed more than the minor finishing I'm comfortable doing on my own wetstones. A local shop of similar quality is a great resource (putting name into address book and firmly into brain now).
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