White tea, that's what is filling my insides as I type this blog. Yes I'm again at the Golden Gate Perk, partaking of free wireless along with one of ten odd types of tea they sell. And watching Leonard Nimoy being Spock on a silent television.
First, about Golden Gate Perk. Ok I'm partial to this place because I helped paint the toilet here (as in, I gave useless advise to the people who were actually doing the painting), but I've been coming here long before that. Basically, it has great tea, and great value in tea. This is no teabag destination - here you get real leaf, teapot, hot water, the whole deal. Each pot makes two cups, but if you're shameless enough you can ask for hot water to make another round for free. And, there's table service if you're nice to the people behind the counter. You get herb and special teas too, including a rather nice ginger tea topped (Korean style, I'm told) with pine nuts. They even have coffee, but I've never really gotten that far.
In addition to Golden Gate Perk, San Francisco has its share of character tea houses. I found another favorite hidden away a gruelling bicycle-ride away from downtown - in Noe Valley. The gruelling part was my fault - I chose the steepest way to get there - but Lovejoy's Antiques and Tea Room turned out to be a very British tea room filled with antique sofas, antique china and of course, tea service. Sure, its all pink-cuddly and very babyshower, but it's got an attitude all its own (I mean, where else do they have doilies any more). It's also full of adorable women who mother you whilw you select one of the great tea choices (but only the regular English kinds - no jasmine or white tea there). The tea service comes with in a three-tiered tray with tiny tea sandwiches, incredible scones, clotted cream and jam, plus all the calm lethargy that should surround a true afternoon tea service. I believe they've shifted locations of late, become larger and now host more baby showers than ever before, but I hope they're still as - ok lets say it - cute.
And then, there's Samovar - russian teapot meets california hippie - quite different from the decidedly retro Lovejoy's. The whacky furniture promises fun, while the walls promise a long list of exotic teas from all over combined with interesting food choices - definitely the place to bring that interesting date when I do finally manage one. It's also somewhere that people just lounge around for hours on some very quirky seating, not all of which is as comfortable as it looks. It's full of people reading, so grabbing one of those places isn't always the easiest thing in the world but there's snough exotic tea and teafood choices to keep one entertained for some time. It even makes a respectable masala chai (though Dolores Park Cafe a few blocks down does a better job of that).