Being part Asian, and adopted by a British woman, there's no question that tea is in my blood.
However, growing up I was accustomed to black tea with milk and sometimes sugar and of course the all time "stereotypical" high tea time. Yes, complete with little sandwiches, and scones, cream and strawberries.
As I got older, I discovered there was much more than black teas. There were the jasmine teas they served in Chinese restaurants, the green teas they served in Japanese restaurants and the chai teas they served in Indian restaurants.
Over the last 10-15 years tea has become very popular as the rest of the western world starts seeing and experiencing the benefits of coffee alternative. The local Safeway (Vons) started carrying the Celestial Seasons tea bags, and then Tea shops began springing. Something for the tea lovers who weren't Pete's or Starbucks fans. If you step foot into a tea shop the atmosphere is strangely different from the coffee shops. I drink both, so I'm not biased here.
When I moved to Los Angeles, during my exploration phase, I saw a place called Chado Tea Room. It didn't look that interesting. In fact it looked rather old and thought it might be an Asian Tea house. I have since found out it was their first location.
A few months later I was was exploring Old Town Pasadena and came across another Chado Tea Room. Through the window there were lots of people having what looked to be like an English tea. As one stepped in the warmth was unbelievable. It is a cozy little place which was bustling with servers carrying three tier plates with sandwiches, scones and cakes, along with full teapots. Then I saw the canisters of tea. There was tea from all over the world, as well as different tea accessories.
I called up some girlfriends and we hit the Tea Room the week after, and it reminded me of my visits to my Aunts on England.
There is a point to this article, bear with me :)
It is the season for gift time, and my manager is a tea drinker, but only likes herbal teas. So I thought this was perfect a gift, and thought of my experience at Chado. As I looked on their website, I noticed they had just opened up one downtown.
It is located in the National Japanese American Museum and I took a trek down there. It was just about closed, half and hour to go, and the gentleman was very patient and helpful. He helped me pick out some nice herbal teas and I also got a nice surprise. I recognized him from the Pasadena store, which I had only been in about 4 times over the course of the last three years. He looked at me a minute and said, "Didn't you used to visit the Pasadena store."
Now that is customer service and great service is what I like to pass on to people.
So if you are a tea person, want to try a traditional British tea time or just want to relax with a cuppa, I encourage to you visit one of their three locations. Weekends get busy so I'd encourage making reservations.
Check them out at www.chadotea.com