By: Jennifer Agress
2019 may be wrapping up, but the Bay area tea scene is hotter than ever—pun intended. From bubble and boozy teas to a tea house in a Japanese garden that’s been around for more than 100 years, read below for our favorite San Francisco spots to find a unique spot of tea.
Distance from Virgin Hotels San Francisco: 25-minute drive
Did you know the oldest public Japanese gardens in America are in San Francisco? Sticking with the Japanese vibes, this five-acre garden has an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, serene koi ponds, a zen garden and cherry blossom trees. The tea house is almost as historic as the gardens, so gather around one of its farmhouse-style tables and enjoy meditative green or matcha teas, traditional Japanese snacks like dorayaki and edamame, and classic afternoon tea bites like petits fours and finger sandwiches. Pro tip: Fortune cookies were actually introduced to the U.S. at this very spot in 1890, so leaving without one is a huge fail. Japanese Tea Garden is located at 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive.
Distance from Virgin Hotels San Francisco: 7-minute drive
If you need more than traditional tea, you can always grab a strawberry-matcha latte or Hong Kong milk tea from the-one-and-only Boba Guys. Big fans of boba tea (or “bubble tea”)—a cold, tea-based drink from Taiwan filled with “pearls” of tapioca balls or jellies—it was launched by two ex-coworkers out of heartbreak: their favorite neighborhood bubble tea spot closed down. Go here for the real stuff, with loose-leaf teas, real fruit, organic milks and tapioca balls made in house. If you haven’t tried bubble tea before, this hipster spot is a solid place to start. Boba Guys has nine locations in the San Francisco Bay area. The closest one to Virgin Hotel SF is located at 429 Stockton Street.
Distance from Virgin Hotels San Francisco: 10-minute drive
A day at Beloved Café is a relaxing one. A perfect addition to the artsy Mission district, go here for good teas with cheesy, but fitting names like “Noble Hearted Warrior” and “Love of My Life,” and a menu of sweets, bowls and salads. The best seat is definitely the window nook—it’s the perfect place to sit with a good book or catch whatever live music duo is playing that day. Beloved Café is located at 3338 24th Street.
Of course, for a really good (tea) time, you don’t want to miss our brand new Upside Down Tea Party. (Think: tea, but with booze.) The next one is January, 18th! Stay classy with tea-inspired cocktails like the Golden Waffle Pearl with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Tea, sake and espresso cream; the Cherry Oh Baby with Champagne and Berries Tea, gin, Chandon Rose and pomegranate; or the Flying Teapot with Happiness Tea, citrus vodka, Lillet and Quince liqueur. Soak it up with finger sandwiches, macarons and pâte de fruits, and trust us: tea time will be your favorite time. Virgin Hotel San Francisco is located at 250 4th Street. Upside Down Tea is priced at $40 per person and includes food and one pot of tea. Reservations are required, and guests with a reservation will be contacted by the hotel to schedule a specific seating between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 18th.