True to its name, The Teahouse (821 Canyon Road, 992-0972) has lots of tea. In fact, its list of hot beverage choices requires binding. It’s not a menu, it’s a novella. Be forewarned, the more than 20 pages of the Sacred Book of Tea will have you overwhelmed in a heartbeat, so it’s good to decide what kind of basic tea category you’re interested in.
There’s white tea, described as sweet and pale; black tea—which can range from Himalayan Darjeeling to China’s Gunpowder—and varieties styled from Russians, French and English; green, herbal, fruity, oolong, rooibos, matcha, mate, chai and a list of ayurvedic concoctions aimed at wellness (special blends for men or women, de-stressing and energy).
Be mindful of the numbers behind each choice. Yes, some of the teas really cost $6 per serving (and there’s one on the menu in the double digits). Thrifty drinkers can locate a wide selection of teas for $3.50, and while that might feel spendy for your everyday cup o’ tea, splurging for something this handcrafted is fun. Teas from all over the world are stored in canisters that line the entryway to the restaurant in a sprawling adobe near the upper end of lower Canyon Road. An outdoor patio is busy when the weather is right.
You might consider sipping one of the “artisan” teas. The Allegria Jasmine Burst ($4.25), for example, comes in a clear glass teapot, and the hand-tied flowers look like a tiny water-bound alien when it arrives. After it steeps for a few minutes, the tea unfolds, creating an undulating and lovely gift in the teapot and turning the water a subtle shade of yellow. Its mellow, floral flavor of marigold lacks the bitterness that can make jasmine tea sometimes smell better than it tastes.
Servers at The Teahouse use various colored teapots to remind them which setup goes to which customer, so if you’ve ordered black tea, for example, it comes in a brown pot; green tea in a jade-hued pot; herbal teas in teal, and so on. And they also have coffee. Don’t forget to ask for a refill if you want one. Most beverages come with more than one serving, but busy wait staff might not offer them.
When it comes to food, the menu is simpler, but offerings are clean and charming. Scones come in a basket with ramekins of clotted cream and lemon curd ($4.50), the way it’s done at Southern High Tea. If you’re into the gluten-free dining plan, you can also opt for a whole basket of baked treats sans wheat or the gluten-free muffin of the day.
My favorite item was a bowl of purple oatmeal (colored as such because it’s made with black sticky rice) with a smooth and creamy texture that had everyone at my table reaching for a second taste. It comes loaded with maple cream, and berries for a dollar extra.
Another hidden discovery was the list of eggs Benedict dishes ($12-$15) with salmon; bacon and tomato; or asparagus and prosciutto among other options. I’m not sure how I got this far in life without ever trying hollandaise sauce. Combine it with breakfast meat, and I’m sold. The tangy, lemon and egg dressing is drizzled over poached eggs and English muffins, served with a small salad.
My Saturday morning breakfast trip was supposed to be a group bike ride, but when rain that had drenched the city for a couple of days refused to let up, we got in the car instead and arrived just a few minutes after the doors opened. It was nice to wrap my sore hands around a warm cup for a leisurely visit as the place filled up. I’m anxious to see what The Teahouse can do for dinner. A newly acquired beer and wine license means the menu now offers drinks including a prosecco with jasmine tea. Yes, please.
Open every day, 9 am to 9 pm
821 Canyon Road