Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco

When I need to replenish my tea supply, one of my regular stops is Red Blossom Tea Company in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown.

I'm not sure why I've never featured this tea institution found right on the touristy Grant Avenue. The tea is solid here, of the highest quality and generally in the most traditional forms. And since Imperial Tea House closed down its original Chinatown location and headed to its posh Ferry Building store, Red Blossom has taken over the role as premium tea vendor in this neighborhood.

There are several tea shops along Grant Avenue offering tea tastings to the tourists, but I find the people at Red Blossom gives the best educational experience. When I visited recently (during the Chinese New Year festivities), it was crowded with tea tasters.

I've noted that I'm a big fan of blended teas, but Red Blossom isn't the spot for me to quench that thirst. Instead, I come here for my pure teas, especially the oolong. Red Blossom offers some of the best oolong from Taiwan, which is home to some of the premium oolong producers. The tea descriptions do talk about a variety of flavors, but oftentimes that comes from hints of flavors from the specific tea leaves. Still, there are a few tea blends, but I wouldn't say Red Blossom goes crazy with the blended flavors. (And most of the flavors are found in the herbal section, which is actually non-caffeinated, non-tea teas known as tisanes.)

While Red Blossom offers a lot of authentic teas and tea ware, way in the back of the store you'll find a traditional herbalist section where roots and herbs and special teas are concocted to improve your health.

The prices are a bit high, but you pay for the quality. And I find the people there always patient to explain their teas or make recommendations. If you're a regular tea drinker, you should make Red Blossom one of your regular suppliers.

Red Blossom Tea Company, 831 Grant Ave., San Francisco. PH: 415.395.0868.


Kim said...

Those places have scared me away because they seem so kitschy. Nice to have a recommendation of a good one! And, again, gorgeous photos!

Carolyn Jung said...

So, do you like this place better than Imperial Tea Court? I've been to the latter, but not to the former. But I'll have to pay a visit now after your recommendation.

Single Guy Ben said...

Carolyn, I haven't been to the Imperial Tea Court since it moved to the Ferry Building. I liked the old dingy spot they had in Chinatown, seemed more approachable and authentic. The Ferry Building spot seems too touristy ... and pricey. At least Red Blossom is still in Chinatown.