San Francisco | Samovar Tea Lounge

Late Friday afternoon in San Francisco. A table for one, a notebook… 

…and warm masala chai. I’ve been to all the Samovar Tea Lounge locations in the city, but the one at Yerba Buena Gardens is my favorite. Equal parts outdoor and indoor seating, super high ceilings, and tons of natural light.  

I keep meaning to try the other teas (like Velvet Cacao – pu’erh with cacao and roasted dandelions, and Tolstoy’s Sip which comes with a scoop of strawberry jam) but there’s something about a spicy, creamy chai that seems appropriate for SF weather. Plus, it’s sweetened with palm instead of plain sugar. A subtle touch that makes all the difference ^_^

Drinking Tea | Red Blossom, Ippodo, Blackbird Tea Co., Lupicia

I think the best part of waking up each morning is walking to the kitchen counter and thinking ahhh what tea shall I drink today? Get the kettle going, tea cups out (or just a big mug), and a bite of something sweet. It’s a morning ritual. Notes on a few teas I’ve been lucky to try this week. 

1. Pu’erh from Red Blossom Tea Company (a must visit tea shop if you are in San Francisco).

2.  Noelle/Josh have been brewing me ginseng oolong in the mornings. Thanks, guys!

3.  Little shots of Uji-Shimizu at Ippodo just before flying NYC -> SF

4. The soothing Marrakech Mint from the folks at Blackbird Tea Co. It’s a green tea blend with both peppermint and spearmint. Also pictured, the Chai Rojo!

5. Kat brought Lupicia’s Sakura Vert from Japan (thank you!) when we met earlier this summer. Salted cherry blossoms and green tea, what a lovely combination. Been pairing this with butter mochi ^_^

San Francisco | ​B. Patisserie

I wish there was enough time to visit B. Patisserie again before flying to Honolulu.

But no worries, it will be my first stop on the next San Francisco trip! I wanted every single golden pastry, each picture perfect mille-feuille, and sugar-dusted bostock from patisserie. But mainly…

…I (or rather, we) wanted the kouign amann. Caramelized, buttery, and still warm from the oven. Folds upon folds of flaky pastry, sugar, and salted butter. Enchanting! Everything I expected and so much more. Paired it with a pot of earl grey tea (is there any sweet that doesn’t compliment earl grey?) and a lovely sugar brioche tart dotted with berries.

P.S. They also bake kouign amann filled with jam and dark chocolate o_O

San Francisco | Afternoon Tea at Craftsman & Wolves

Afternoon tea at Craftsman & Wolves is one of the more creative teas services I’ve come across in a long (much too long!) time. It’s also a fine example of how afternoon tea can modern and approachable. No lace and frou frou nonsense. Tea is $22/person, a bargain compared to San Francisco hotel teas which run in the $50-60 range. 

The space is attractive though not for lounging. We were in and out in less than an hour. 

Let’s begin!

Sharing three teas: earl grey, ding dong oolong (all the oolongs are from Naivetea), and a housemade tisane of lemongrass and strawberries. They change the tisanes every week, am curious to see what other blends they’ve done.

Start at the bottom tier with…

…savory ginger-scallion madelines and an ocean trout verrine with peas, preserved lemon, and pancetta…

…followed by buttery cheese gougères in stick form and a single-bite duck confit sandwich (with onions, red wine jam, and butter) on brioche.

And then onto the middle tier! 

The Thai mango scone is laced with shredded coconut and crystallized ginger. It runs savory with the addition green curry. Follow with buckwheat crumpets (my favorite item from the tea service). Served with housemade clotted cream and creamy lime (not lemon) curd.

And finally, the top tier. 

Strawberry pâtes de fruits and chocolate marshmallows dipped in chocolate and dusted in cocoa powder.

Pistachio, strawberry, and olive oil layer cake (amazing!) and one last cup of earl grey.