Saturday, December 21, 2013

Leland Tea Company in Nob Hill

In the outskirts of Nob Hill, one of San Francisco’s most well-known neighborhoods, is the Leland Tea Company.  Nob Hill is known for its SF landmarks such as Grace Cathedral, the Masonic Temple, and the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins Hotels.  It also holds cultural institutions like the Alliance Française, which is where I was coming from after a French class when I happened upon the Leland Tea Company, a tea cafe just a block away.

The first thing that drew me to the Leland Tea Company was the French music wafting from its doorway. Naturally I had to look inside. The antique looking decor and jazzy music is reminiscent of a chic 1920’s Parisian cafe.

At the front counter, customers get to handle and smell mini-containers of loose dry tea leaf mixes to choose from. Tea names like Rhett Butler, Casablanca and Ginger Rogers fit the theme of another era. Scones and french madeleine cookies can come with your order of tea. I like that they're not too sweet. That way they don't overwhelm the flavor of the tea.

The friendly beaming personality of the owner, Will,  who created and mixed the blends himself makes your tea service truly enjoyable.  Will seems to be a very busy guy.  Each time I’ve seen him there he’s been behind the counter preparing for catered events.  Nevertheless, he goes out of his way to stop by each table to say hello and have a quick chat.  There are quite a few regulars, cool hipster types (skinny jeans and fedora hats), and he really does know them by name. Will frequently jokes and reminds customers to take a deep breath and relax because afterall, “it’s just tea!”

And the tea…there’s a wide variety of house mixed blends to choose from.  The options are arranged in order of most caffeine to least.  The tea is sourced from fair trade and organic vendors.  Custom blends infused with spices and flavors at your direction are available.  All the teas I’ve tried there taste great.  They’re served in individual pots that are timed during brewing.

It feels like a lot of thought was put into this establishment - homemade tea blends, delicious pastries, lovely atmosphere.   Here’s a glimpse in a video moment from my first visit:

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Sara and Andrea

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