Tea Time in China Town: San Francisco

We recently discovered that a San Francisco sunset by sailboat is a wonderful way to see the city! Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Ferry Building, Giants Stadium and the Bay bridge…as well as some playful sea lions showing off their latest tricks for us near Pier 39. We are thankful to our captain and first mate (who doubled as the sommelier for our jaunt) for an amazing sailing experience. It was a wee bit chilly, and this made us look forward to our China Town tea tasting the following afternoon. We needed to warm up!

China town is a close walk from Union Square and as we walked under the ornate tiled gateway we were instantly transported to a very different part of the city. Yes, the streets are lined with cheesy Chinese souvenir shops, but dotted in between were markets where you can find barrels filled with 20 different kinds of ginseng and mushrooms, carts covered in bright red and yellow flowers, Colorful Chinese lanterns and flags strewn across the streets and, of course, tea houses! You really cant go wrong with any of them, but our favorite was stop was the Red Blossom Tea Company.

I’ve mentioned my love for tea before, and was really excited to learn from the pros here. We were set loose to explore the shop, lifting the metal lids of numerous tea bins to smell oils from green and white tea leaves blended with everything from lychee to peony. Red Blossom is known for its quality and attention to detail. All the teas are loose, no bags to be found. While its not as practical for me to offer loose tea in the spa, I love enjoying it at home!

One of their tea masters provided a tea tasting with traditional cast iron tea pots and ceramic cups while educating us in the process of making and brewing tea. For example, we learned that decaffeinated tea is not tea – it’s simply an herbal or floral blend minus any actual tea leaves. I also learned that by using the second or third steep from a batch of tea, the level of caffeine is low enough to be considered “de-caffeinated” in many blends. Our favorite was the Black Rose Tea. You can order in several quantities and even add extra “toppings” from their flower bar, like rose buds or lavender. Hmmm…I may need to research a way to provide loose tea at the spa from now on. Maybe I can convince our tea master to come home with us!

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