Our 15th Spot:
The Golden Tea Garden
22630 Main Street Hayward, CA 94541
Located in historical Downtown Hayward, this spot came recommended from one of my dear friends who frequents here with her mom. Although I have to say, when I heard the word “garden” I thought more Chinese tea than Victorian tea (and let’s not reminisce about that bad experience from Spot #6). As I had my husband drop me across the street so I could get my infamous outside shot, I can hear loud conversation. Crossing the street to the tea house, I prayed + prayed it wasn’t coming from there. Who wants to enjoy tea around a yelling match!? It was coming from there. Even worse, I stood at the front doors of the tea house and no hostess welcomed me for FIVE MINUTES!!?! Verrry baaaad first impression. I was so turned off! I was in a texting convo with my gf, and told her I didn’t wanna go in!! At first, she told me to leave. Then, she encouraged that maybe they would make it up to us…
As my party showed up + we walked in, we were fiiiiinally greeted. It was such a hot day, they had fan towers going. The table we were sat at, had one right behind my chair. I felt greedy having it all to myself + blowing just on MY back, so I graciously moved it to share with the other patrons. When the hostess came around, I mentioned I had moved it and she replied with a snippy “whatever works.” I was suddenly reminded of the person I made reservations with who happened to also be the owner. She was not warm + very matter-of-fact about my call, which is maybe why I wanted to walk out when I first got there. That was her! She adjusted the fan to her liking and moved on. O…kay…
The place isn’t bad looking. Some really cute elements, and some rather tacky ones (I thought). Definitely a garden scene. I did like all the white rod iron furniture + chandeliers, even the green ‘grass’ carpet. But, I could have done without the half pots on the wall and surrounding fake greenery. Take a look for yourselves…
The Tea was okay. LOTS to choose from, with fun + different flavors (and they have small descriptions next to them yay!). At our table of 4, we chose: Tahitian Vanilla Rose (oolong tea with vanilla & rose petals), Buttered Rum (black tea), Chocolate Strawberry (black tea), and Brandy (oolong tea). Here are my thoughts:
Tahitian Vanilla Rose – smelled great, in my words tasted like “Dollar Store,” had to have more of it before I really understood the lightness of the tea, it was okay
Buttered Rum – when I finally had some it got strong, in my words tasted like “Chinese restaurant tea”
Chocolate Strawberry – very true to flavor!
Brandy – in my words tasted like “Old School House”, interesting but unexplainable flavor
Here’s where it got better for me- the food. I ordered the High Tea Service. I liked that all the orders came on their own tier. There is no confusion as to what’s what or who’s who. And, when I’m taking photos of each piece, sometimes I have to find spots for the food items I’m not that fond of so I can move on to the photo shoot of the next. That was really convenient for me!
Here’s the tiny bite of English Cucumber tea sandwich I got. It’s cute + small, but I’m paying 30 bucks for this meal. I’d rather have substance, than ‘cute + small.’ It’s was fine.
This is their Egg Salad tea sandwich. In an oval shape. Okay. I didn’t really have much to go off of, so…
This Chicken Salad tea sandwich was surprising!? Lots of flavor packed into this little heart. Full of rosemary, and I don’t even like rosemary!? I could have eaten these things all day.
Here is their Shrimp & Crab tart. Tasted very fishy + artificial, but I liked the texture of the filo. This wasn’t on my menu, so it was thrown in.
This was their Turkey tea sandwich. There was avocado in there, which I like. But, this was below average for me. It gave me a really nasty aftertaste, so I only tolerated a few bites. (I bring home my leftovers to my husband + kids…even they didn’t eat this one.)
Pineapple & Cream Cheese tea sandwich. This was fun to see on the menu. Nothing spectacular, but a nice sandwich to have.
Blueberry Scone with Devon Cream, Lemon Curd + Preserves. I liked my scone a lot! It was thin, so that was neat to see. Very chewy and good flavor. I think if I had those chicken salad sandwiches + some scones only, I would’ve been happy. The fixings were pretty sweet though.
Overall, I thought the food was very good. Lot’s of intricate detail. My friend’s fruit salad (which she loved) had tiny tiny bits of strawberry cut up in it! Although pleasing to the eye, I can’t help but think of how much food they waste!!?? Even if I wanted to come back, thinking about that makes me want to skip this place next time. For every person that doesn’t eat there, is extra tea sandwich from all the leaf + heart shapes SAVED!!
Would I come back? Hmm. I’ll leave it at a: maybe. After we paid our bill and the owner saw our business card for the Tour, she got really nice + conversational. I felt like she won me over. However, when I really think it through… She could have been nice from the get. And, I really could have done without the table of 8 that was there that decided to have a full on CONFERENCE + Team Meeting at a tea house!!?! I think they ruined my experience from the beginning. There’s such a thing as using your inside voice and being CONSIDERATE of other guests at a restaurant. If I come back, it will have to be a long loooong time from now and I will have to be invited. I don’t see myself hosting anything there.