Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tea Time

A new trend has been sweeping America, and I, for one, am all for it: tea. When I lived in San Francisco, one of my brief roommate's had a girlfriend who worked for Teavana, and for Christmas that first year, she got us a bag FULL of different loos leaf teas. It remains one of the best presents I've received in my adult life. So delicious... Each bag included instructions for how best to brew it and how long to let the tea sit in the water for maximum tastiness, something I had never encountered before. So educational...

Move over, coffee houses, and make room for the tea shops! Strangely, despite living in the Bay Area for as long as I did, I never visited one of the many and varied tea shops in the City. My first trip to a tea shop was on my second date with my boyfriend when we met up at Goldfish Tea in Royal Oak, MI. I arrived first, and as I sat in the foyer to wait for Greg, I realized the music being piped over the store stereo system was awfully familiar... Wait, was that really Jonathan Coulton?? Yes, yes it was. And not only that, the girl behind the counter who took our order was wearing a Legend of Zelda Tshirt. Geeks, I love you! 

At Goldfish, they put the tea in the pot or cup for you, then hand you your order along with a timer. When the timer goes off, you remove the tea leaves, then drink the delicious brewed liquid. I ordered a lovely jasmine tea, one of my favorites because it is not only delicious but delightfully aromatic. I forget what Greg got, but I tried some and I remember liking it, too. The atmosphere is fantastic and beautiful if you enjoy Asian things like I completely do. In my opinion, it fell short of tacky, thank goodness, though it is a tad cluttered (which I also enjoyed, actually).

The second tea shop I've ever visited is called Tea Haus and is located in Kerry Town in Ann Arbor, just a few doors south of the Food Co-op. A few coworkers had been raving about it at work and insisted I had to go, so when Greg came to visit me on another of our early dates, I suggested Tea Haus, which turned out to be rather different from Goldfish. 

When we first walked in, I thought, "I don't feel dressed well enough for this place." It looks fancy, but the small staff is extremely friendly and helpful, and the menu is actually not expensive at all. Greg got the scone plate for around $5, and I ordered the English Quickie, a three course afternoon tea with your choice of three finger sandwiches, a scone with three different spreads, and a dessert of your choice, which rotate daily. I got earl grey creme brulee on that first visit as my dessert because DEAR GOD, IT'S EARL GREY CREME BRULEE. One of my well-loved teas and my absolute favorite dessert combined in one dish! <3 <3 <3 The lady who made it overheard me describing it to Greg and poked her head out of the kitchen (the place is not that large) and told me that she had just come up with that idea that morning and wanted to see if it would work. I answered that it worked beautifully, and we chatted for a bit, which I found delightful.

I went back to Tea Haus with Kimmy after our visit to the farmers market last week, and my friend Rachel joined us for a quick treat before she had to go into work. Kimmy and I ordered an English Quickie each and shared a pot of earl grey, and Rachel worked with the waiter to get some finger sandwiches of cream cheese and smoked salmon which I don't believe are strictly on the menu.

The way that Tea Haus serves its tea is different than Goldfish. Rather than hand you a timer, Tea Haus brews the tea in the kitchen and brings it out to you when it is done. I am honestly fine with either way. The timer seems a bit gimmicky to me, but I know that it's quite popular at many tea shops these days, perhaps to set them even further apart from coffee houses.

If you are in the Kalamazoo region, a "hidden gem in Portage" is ChocolaTea, located south of Schuring Rd on Westnedge Ave, which serves tea, chocolate, and coffee. I have not yet been, but my mother loved it, and the pictures online look beyond fabulous. The patio is built out over Portage Creek, so you may enjoy the passing water while sipping your beverage of choice.

If you know of any other tea shops in Michigan, let me know! I would be delighted to give them a try.

1 comment:

  1. You're in A2, right?
    Crazy Wisdom has a tea room upstairs.