Love the tea and food pairings. I had the Moorish Service and my husband had the Russian Service. These dishes are great samplers, having lots of different tastes and paired with a tea that goes with the food. There is a Japanese and Ayurvedic service too. We were visiting wine country in April, but I’d read about this place in tea magazines and online, and I’m so glad we made a point to search for it while passing through San Francisco. Samovar’s does not disappoint! It’s too bad it’s so far away! Just sitting down makes you breathe deeply and relax.
This is a lovely little tea shop in Dupont Circle (just up from Kramer’s books). There are 6 or 7 locations in the DC area. Though I’ve only been to this one location so far, it left a good impression and I intend to visit some of the others. The young staff were definitely trained about the available teas and were friendly and helpful. The shop makes its own blends and proclaims it is run by 5th generation tea merchants. Teas were on display in clear jars so you could admire and smell, but then if you requested one, they scooped from separate dark and airtight containers behind the counter… Very impressive. They had two teas made for sampling: one a seasonal pumpkin spice that I wound up buying! The shop is rather small but they had a few other unique items, like tea oil for cooking and other tea infused ideas. They also have a tea exchange: bring in some old tea from your cupboards and they will donate it to a local food pantry, offering you a discount on your next purchase.
Feels old world, like an antique store, only the stuff is new. Lots of clear containers behind the counter to see, smell and taste. And they have lots and lots of good bagged tea—most of the stuff that you won’t find in the supermarket, like Revolutions, Two Leaves and a Bud, Kusmi Tea, Ahmed, Numi, Republic of Tea, and others, as well as more varieties than you’ll find in the supermarket for brands like Stash and Bigelow. There’s several of the Brit’s favorites too, like PG tips and others.
There’s also quite a bit of tea “stuff”: British pots, Asian pots, novelty pots… Lots of teacups, measuring spoons and a few strainers. They also have coffee, spices, chocolate and a bit of cheese.
I must say I question the wisdom of keeping the tea and coffee in clear containers, though it does look nice. Still… I’ll be back.
This place is hard to find yet it’s been there 30 years! After 13 years living near Old Town I still walked right passed it. The sign is not obvious, but look for a small one that is just tucked in the window above your head. It’s at 215 So. Union in the “Carriage” shops. About a half block south of the Christmas Attic and on the same side of the street.
This is a high end place, in cost and environs. It’s in the Park-Hyatt and you wouldn’t be out of place coming in with a suit and tie. I’ve been here twice and enjoyed it a great deal. If you want to talk tea, go on a weekend and ask to speak with the tea sommelier. (Some folks do not seem to like using the word sommelier to refer to anything but wine, but it seems to fit here and that was the term the Tea Cellar was using. However it seems they changed that to “Tea Expert” on their website so perhaps someone complained. I liked the idea of a Tea Sommelier.) Unfortunatley the average servers may not be knowledgeable in tea, but the sommelier/expert will answer any questions you have about the selection and make recommendations if you tell her or him your tastes. The first time I was there, the tea sommelier on duty was a young Japanese woman, who took many tea classes in Japan. She was soft-spoken but kind and helpful.
The selection of tea is very nice and they have several rare teas, and we had a sampler of three different pots. A simple pot isn’t too expensive but the bill can add up very quickly depending on your taste. There is a $300 pot of Puerh. We went with the less expensive cave-aged vintage reserve at about $25, though you can find many pots of greens or blacks at $8-15. The emphasis here is on the tea experience.
The Tea Cellar’s style and decor is very modern chic and sometimes there is a dessert bar. At times the service seemed slow, and I wasn’t certain whether we were actually being neglected or purposely left to quietly enjoy the tea. It was busy that day. Because of the cost, I will not go here frequently, but it was fun and I do recommend it for a bit of a posh kind of tea experience.
There are several locations for Teaism… it’s a bit of a local DC chain. One on Connecticut, one on R near Dupont and one on 8th. The best thing about Teaism is the community feel and involvement. I’ve been there for special events, like a tea-related silent auction for charity, and it’s a great location for that. They are friendly and helpful. There’s a little bit of a feel toward a tea version of Starbucks, with an Asian flare. They do have some good food items on the menu. The folks behind the counter are helpful and knowledgeable, though you may not linger too long… it’s a busy place.
This is a nice little shop for spices. I love that the walls are filled with containers and you are encouraged to open and smell all the great seasonings, spices and teas. They have many of their own blends of rubs and marinades. However the teas are average at best. I was a bit disappointed by a white tea. The tea selection is not particularly large or varied. Two really great finds: Green Tea Mints and a silicon tea strainer.
This is a favorite and probably the best place in DC to drink tea the way it should be drank. There are 12 pages of tea and tisane on the menu. The food is light with Asian type snacks and three types of “tea meals”. A serving of tea varies in price from about $5 to 25, depending on the type of tea. They have some rare and expensive teas and this is a good place to try special teas like Monkey King which you are unlikely to find in many places. The teas are served just like they should be and the staff always takes time to prepare it for you the first time, unless you prefer to do it yourself. Most oolongs, for example, come in a very small yixing pot on a tray so you can pour hot water both in and on the pot. The most aromatic are served with aroma cups. Artisan teas are served in clear pots so you can enjoy the unfurling of the leaves and flower. If you are unsure about the tea or its preparation, the staff will explain it all.
Some days can be very busy, but mid afternoons on weekdays, you may be the only one there. It is open for tea starting at 11am and not a place for late night snacking. Ching Ching Cha’s shelves are full of tea and tea items for sale, including a lot of things you may not find elsewhere. Not all the teas they served can be purchased to take home, but the selection varies throughout the year. There are yixing pots, Japanese tea sets, various strainers, very lovely tea storage containers, books and other uniquely tea-related items. During the day, the light is all natural from skylights and the decor is comforable and old world, with two low tables where you sit on the floor amid overstuffed pillows. My sister told me she felt like a Sultana lounging there with her tea. The rest of the tables are normal sized, and each one has a pot of water sitting atop a candle so you can relax and keep filling you cup all afternoon. It is easy to lose track of time.