Mountain View Tea Village in Mountain View, California
5/5
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Suzi rated this place
5/5
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Popped in today really quickly just to look around; I had a dinner engagement so it was really just to see how this place looked.

The owner Steven was an absolute sweetheart! I didn’t have a chance to look very thoroughly, but I asked him if they had any empty tins (I didn’t see any) and he showed me the selection, and then showed several of the different teas to me as well :D I LOVE flavored tea, so when he showed my boyfriend and me the lychee and peach it took a lot of willpower not to purchase them! (I had to keep telling myself “You have to finish the peach tea at home first.”) I did pick up a ‘Rose Green Oolong’ to try, because that’s a FLAVOR I don’t have.

I can’t wait to go back on another day when I’m not in such a hurry to look around more. There’s a huge selection of Yixing teapots I’d like to check out, and there were so many teas that I didn’t even glance at.

Awesome customer service, and Steven’s obvious enthusiasm for tea is 100% contagious!

Cafe Rococo in Cupertino, California
5/5
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Suzi rated this place
5/5
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For students at De Anza Community College, Cafe Rococo is the best place to get drinks without leaving campus. The tea selection isn’t extensive, or fancy, but it tastes good when you have the thirst.

The owner of Cafe Rococo is a sweetheart; if you catch him at a quieter moment (early to mid-afternoon is the best time) he’ll chat away about nearly anything.

Prices are generally pretty normal – about on par or slightly cheaper than Starbucks.

The best thing by far is the iced tea. Whatever syrup or flavor additive they use here tastes pretty darn natural. The peach ice tea tastes like summer fruit, not that nasty canned syrup. Passionfruit is light and refreshing. The raspberry, again, tastes like the real fruit and not like that Lipton/Nestea corn syrup crap.

Now that it’s winter I’ve become very fond of the Vanilla Tea Latte. It’s a perfect balance of sweetness and the slight bitterness of black tea. I could drink it all day!

The regular hot chocolate is pretty good, but I thought the white hot chocolate waaaaay too sweet.

Mochas tend to be more bitter than sweet, so I usually go for the white mocha. I don’t like the coffees as much as the teas, honestly. But when I’m on campus and I have cash (they just started accepting credit cards, but there’s a “cash discount”) I love to stop by and get some tea to take to class with me.

Lisa's Tea Treasures in San Jose, California
4/5
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Suzi rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

(I originally wrote this review for Yelp.com in March of 2008.)

I like coming to Lisa’s Tea Treasures every once in a while; if you go during the slow periods (mid-week, mid-afternoon) there won’t be too many other people around so you can have a nice, quiet tea. It is a little bit of luxury that I can rarely afford, so when I go I savor it. That said, Lisa’s Tea Treasures isn’t perfect.

The service is probably their weakest point. The last two-three times I’ve gone the servers were harried and seemed unhappy. When I last went, the girl who served me didn’t chit-chat at all and avoided eye contact. Working retail, I can totally understand that; I have days where I’m in complete robot-mode, too. She brought us our food quickly and did check on us to make sure we were satisfied, but there were only two other groups in the front room so I would expect that. But though there were few customers in the store she seemed stressed and overworked, and it’s hard to create a relaxing atmosphere when your server is so frantic.

The food is usually pretty good. As others have pointed out, the bread can be a bit dry sometimes, and the desserts aren’t always homemade. But the fruit and salads have always been quite fresh and crispy/tangy/sweet and the savories always arrive warm and tasty. The food fills me up and I always have leftovers to take home, too.

Did I forget to mention the actual tea? My favorite is the Boysenberry Tea, but they have several lovely selections. I haven’t yet had a ‘bagged’ tea; all of the ones I’ve tried have been loose-leaf I believe. (My boyfriend always forgets to put the tea strainer in his cup and ends up with leaves floating at the bottom of his cup. Yes, my boyfriend goes with me. Does he cry about the girliness of it all? Naturally. But he always says if it makes me happy he’ll do anything. He’s a sweetheart. Yes, I’m off-topic. Back to tea.) The teapots are pretty small, so you don’t get much tea, but they do refill them for you if you run out. (I hope they don’t charge you for the refills. You know, I’ve never actually paid that much attention. Must do so next time.)

Whenever I drop in I poke around the gift shop, but I’ve never seen anything I ‘ve wanted to buy. (Or, for that matter, seen anyone buy something!) They have teapots and teacups, country-crafty froufrou trinkets, tea-themed jewelry, and baubles galore. It always makes me think I’ve stumbled into Grandma’s Secret Treasure Trove. The front room is decorated in lemon-yellow and is a bit cluttered; the back room is rose-pink and often a tight squeeze to maneuver.

Having done tea in England, I’m the first to agree this isn’t an English tea. But it’s fun and relaxing (if you go at the right time) and a very pleasant way to hang out with friends.

Lupicia Fresh Tea - Valley Fair in Santa Clara, California
5/5
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5/5
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Teavana (Valley Fair Mall) in Santa Clara, California
3/5
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Suzi rated this place
3/5
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Teavana’s teas are pretty expensive, and you can find very similar (if not the same) teas on-line for much cheaper. I have only bought loose tea from them once or twice.
Their teaware is much the same. They have a wonderful selection, but it’s expensive. None of it is unique to the store; I have found most of their yixing teapots on other websites, again cheaper. But for simple exposure, and to see what everything looks like “in real life,” Teavana is a great store to visit and browse.

The experience at Valley Fair really depends on which staff members are working. Some of them are really pushy for sales; others are quite laid back. Several members of the staff are quite chatty and fun to talk to, but the store’s usually too busy on weekends. All of the tea is behind the counter in large bins, so it’s impossible to just browse the tea on your own. It must be done with a sales associate, which has benefits (they can tell you why that tea is so great and suggest other teas that are similar) and negatives (you can’t browse on your own, so if you’re feeling anti-social it can be difficult, and you have to suffer through the upsell process.) Personally, I feel like I know enough about tea that I would prefer the ability to just pick teas on my own.

When at Teavana, I usually purchase tea drinks. I work in the mall, and don’t have a chance to brew tea at my store so this is the best way for me to get tea. The staff do a great job of steeping the tea just the right amount of time, removing the leaves before tea gets bitter. Unfortunately, since there are rarely more than one or two staff at any given time you usually have to wait for the staff to finish with any other customers looking at tea, so wait times are too long much of the time to justify getting a drink. In fact, during the holiday season the drink service isn’t even offered, which stinks if you’re a thirsty mall employee craving some oolong.

When I first started working at the mall, I was intimidated by the staff at Teavana and avoided the store. It wasn’t until one of my friends started working at Teavana that I started to get to know the staff and feel comfortable going in. Unfortunately, Valley Fair’s Teavana goes through a lot of employee turnover, and once again I’m not as comfortable with the current team.
There are so many other places to get drinks in the mall, and there are less pricey loose tea alternatives, so it is hard to justify a trip to Teavana anymore.

(I originally posted this on Yelp in March of 2008.)

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