Start by sniffing the heady aromas. Take a sip to savor complex flavors. Then, pair with food for an unparalleled taste experience. Are we talking about wine? Nope. Tea!
At the American Tea Room‘s new downtown teahouse, the tea-drinking experience approximates a fine wine bar. The industrial-chic cafe—set in an Arts District warehouse—offers 200 varieties of premium tea sourced primarily from organic, small-scale growers around the world. To help narrow down your selection, visit the shop’s interactive Tea Zone, where you can smell each tea and learn about its origins.
At the tea bar, you can opt for a pot of tea, matcha or one of the global-inspired specialty tea drinks. Hot specialties—perfect for warming up in the winter cold—include Okinawan Life Tea (a mix of jasmine green tea with turmeric and ginger, $5) and Himalayan butter tea (Nepalese black, oolong and pu-erh teas blended with organic butter and honey, $8).
Food wise, chef Valerie Gordon (of Valerie Confections) has crafted a menu of delectable salads and sandwiches made with mostly organic, local produce and organic meats; some dishes, like the grass-fed, Lapsang Souchong tea-braised short rib sandwich ($17) and the oolong chicken salad ($13), incorporate the shop’s teas. The chopped salad with Marcona almonds and dates ($13) and the kale hand pie ($6) are vegetarian standouts.
With such clean, delicious food and the numerous wellness benefits of the tea, why not raise a mug (instead of a wine glass) and toast to your health?
American Tea Room
909 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles