Spot 29 :: Tudor Rose English Tea Room

Our 29th Spot:

Tudor Rose English Tea Room

733 4th Street  Santa Rosa, CA 95404

http://www.tudorrosetearoom.com

 

[Most photos taken on my old iPhone 6, a few from my friend’s iPhone X, and one from other gf’s Samsung.  Not about that DSLR-Life at the moment.]

outside

sign

I don’t ever go to Santa Rosa, so we really didn’t know what was out that way.  As a matter of fact, we live almost 2-hours away.  I know this isn’t technically “Bay Area”, but it was within my 2-hour margin of travel-  so we visited.

We kept passing by all these great architectural homes, and I was getting excited that the tea room would be in one of them!  (For those curious-  I don’t like to look up too much about the Spots we visit, cuz I don’t want to have an opinion before I even get there AND I enjoy the element of surprise.)  Wheeen I saw us rolling into a busy part of town, I knew my dream wasn’t likely.  THEN, when I saw the outside of it…I already felt like it was over.  “It had a (air quotes) facility-type door??  Ew.”  I didn’t give up just yet.

 

I was trying to get my outside shot, and my girlfriends already walked inside…so I didn’t get the initial greeting.  But as we were seated, I already didn’t like the service.  She just wasn’t that ‘warm tea party’ kind of warm, you know?  Matter of fact, fake smile.  (side eye)  And by the way, IT WAS DARK.  Like-  I didn’t understand if I was at a night club or a tea party?  Just wait, you’ll see in my darkest photos ever in life.

inside

inside 2

decor

 

I guess all 4 of us were in a rooibos-state-of-mind (woo-hoo!  my favorite!), cuz we all ordered red bush-based teas.  Chocolate Orange, Mango, Coconut Cream Rooibos, and Pumpkin and Cream.  I’m not even gonna give them the dignity of reviewing them individually, and just say they all lacked depth of flavor and were extremely artificially enhanced…according to my palate.  [For our new visitors (and sure, for our loyal returning readers as well): keep in mind this is our 29th tea house visited AND I have owned a boutique tea company where I have created exclusive gourmet teas.  So, my remarks come with experience…is all I’m trying to say.  I know what I like, and mos def know what I don’t like.  Mmkaay.]  Oh yeah-  and please NEVER rush to put tea pots on our table then tell us we need to wait for them to steep!!!  (hot air blowing out of nose emoji here)  Who does that??  They should have had them properly steeped, then brought them out.  Minus 100-points for that, Steve.

tea

tea 2

 

They had E-LEV-EN levels of tea service.  (rolling my eyes)  Which are entirely too many, if you ask me.  And they were all so different!?  All of us wanted something from one level, but wanted to substitute another thing from another level.  It was confusing and annoying.

tier

[Okay, so…I triiiied to edit these ultra dark pictures that I took of each individual item served.  But, it just didn’t work out.  I’m telling you guys, it was soooo dark in there!!?!]

Since I couldn’t include the shots of the food, I’m just gonna put my notes here and call it a day.  I am SO DONE with this place tho!!

Split Pea + Curry Soup – nobody told you to make that combo, 2 entirely separate things that should never be put together, bland, chunky, worst baby food ever, barely took half a spoon bite

Lemon Vanilla Scone – no it’s not, had NO kind of lemon OR vanilla flavor in there, very bready, fluffy insides, crunchy outsides; came with this RIDICULOUS trying-to-be-too-cute what she called “clotted cream” but I KNOW FO SHO wasn’t; and they don’t offer preserves; was later used as my palate cleanser

cream

Cucumber Tea Sandwich – a lot of dry bread, a lot of thick cream

Egg Salad Tea Sandwich – dry, tastes like old egg, no salt, it was really gritty, worst egg salad I’ve had from any Tea Spot

Hummus + Green Onion Tea Sandwich – my SIL spit it out after the first bite!!; yall know I HATE green onions so I took a tiny bite, don’t even know how to explain that one, dry, again no salt

Chicken Salad + Cranberry Tea Sandwich – okay, chunky, the only thing that was decent enough to finish

Veggie Pastie – tastes like mushy frozen vegetables that were chewed and spat out, and NO SALT

Mushroom + Onion Tart – too chewy, took me forever to chew and swallow, blue cheese tasted like throw up

Sausage Roll – basic

 

It was only after I was almost done with the single bites from each item that I discovered-  THEY USE FAKE FLOWERS ON THE TIER!!?!!!?!!!?!  That is not hygienic at all guys!!  Come on!!  Really??  Do you WASH and SANITIZE every single flower you use on each tier???  I don’t even want to go there and think of what kind of OTHER HANDS and LICKED FINGERS were fiddling with the flower that was touching the food I put in my mouth.  GROSS, TUDOR ROSE!!

I’m done.

FYI-  of the 29 Spots we’ve been to, they are number 28!!!  Yes, even after the dirty Chinese tea place.

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Spot 28 :: Muir’s Tea Room

Our 28th Spot:

Muir’s Tea Room

330 South Main Street  Sebastopol, CA 95472

http://www.muirstearoom.com

sign

You guys-  I couldn’t wait to get home to blog this place!!  What is that saying…  “There was history in the making today.”

After visiting + reviewing Filoli in June, I got the tea bug back!!  I quickly researched if there were any new spots or spots that I had missed…  Yes I know, there are some (more like, few) really familiar or popular Bay Area spots that we have not visited; and I’ll just say it’s for good reason.  If it’s more of a café or not Afternoon/Victorian tea, I’m not taking my girls there.  (For those of you curious as to why those aren’t on our list…just putting that out there)

Aaanyway, I was happy to have stumbled upon this Spot!  I’m not very familiar with Sebastopol.  So much so, that I don’t even know how to pronounce the word!?  HAHA.  Ask my friends, they will tell you how funny I sound saying it.  I knew enough about it being a cute little town, and since I’m a fan of cute little towns OF COURSE I was excited to go there.

Okay okay, it’s not quite “Bay Area”…that’s why the blog is called: California Tea House Tour, but it was close enough for us to visit!  So, I picked my most comfy girlfriends and we spent the 2-hour drive admiring God’s gorgeous creation on the way!

[By the way, didn’t feel like lugging my serious camera on this day trip…so enjoy these iPhone 6 quick shots!]

outside

Look at howwww cuuuuuute!!?!  (in my whiniest voice ever)

inside

inside 2

inside 3

inside 4

We got the most warmest welcome on record from this Tour!  They were genuinely happy to see us + seat us!  And HOW COOL-  we got to sit outside!!  I love eating outside!  This was a first on the Tour.  We were behind yummy foliage, and felt like we were tucked in this adorable cove.

They have 6 levels of tea service, so there’s something for every appetite.  And let me tell you how even more exciting:  they are a PLANT-BASED tea rom!!!!!  (P.S.  I never use 5 exclamation points.)  I had no idea when I picked this place, that they were plant-based!?  And even more special, one of my sweetest B.F.F.’s that I had invited to join eats plant-based!!  So do I (majority of the time), but I was mostly excited for her!

We went for the mid-range tea, and they were also having a themed tea event that day.  My other dear friend chose that one.  Ugh, oh, and the TEAS we chose!!  They already just sounded delicious, but definitely delivered in taste as well!  (insert 3 a-ok emojis here)

tea

That’s my rooibos-based Chocolate Orange Creamsicle!  Yall ALREADY know, I love me a rooibos. However, I am NOT crazy about chocolate teas.  The only reason I chose this one is cuz it is paired with orange!!  When we had our tea line, we DID a chocolate orange!  I KNOW that combo is killer, and plus this one had vanilla in it too…my favorite.  I chose right, and this tea was soooo gooooood!  Very creamy, and you can make out each of the flavor profiles.  They worked together wonderfully.

Another tea at the table was their green-based Maple Walnut.  UM, I love a good tea with nuts!  And, you can never go wrong with maple.  (am I right?!)  I’m so glad she chose this one, cuz I wanted to try it too!  Ugh, delicious.  The maple was up front, then you got this intriguing amazing walnut aftertaste.  And-  green tea??  I would have ne-ver matched these flavors with that base; but it just worked.

A green-based Plum Mango was the last tea chosen.  (sigh)  I don’t even like fruity teas.  However (sigh again), this one was beauuuuutiful!!  Light, and just mixed so well.  I do love me a plum tea, so I would have chosen this one too…  I told you I picked the best girls to share this time with.  😉

salad

So-  as part of the tea service I chose, they serve an option of soup or salad.  Today’s soup was Tomato Basil.  Yum, right?  But because of various health issues, I couldn’t do the soup OR the salad.  (wah wah sad trombone sound)  I didn’t want to be THAT customer, but I spoke up anyway.  They right away offered Potato Salad, and I right away said ‘yes’!  So gracious of them!  (head looking down, taking a deep breath)  You guys, don’t tell my Huz (cuz he makes a mean potato salad), but-  this.  Was.  The.  BEST.  Potato.  Salad.  I’ve.  EVER.  Had.  In.  My.  Liiiiife!!  Like-  just typing about it right now makes me wanna cry!  Those potatoes were the creamiest texture everrr!  They were cooked to perfection, forreals.  It had dill, CAPERS, chives…all my favorites.  I coulda eaten that stuff all day and been fine.

tier

I took pictures of each item, but it just didn’t do em justice.

scones

I know scones aren’t etiquette’ly the first course, but that’s how I like to eat em.  They’re warm…and ready…  Why not have em first!?  I think these ones were Lemon Poppy Seed Scones.  SO crispy guys!  It had the nicest crunch, and was bready inside.  Not an overpowering lemon flavor, which I liked.  And, poppy seed anything!?  Yes please!

sandwiches

That little Cucumber Tea Sandwich was the most decadent I’ve ever had!  And it’s plant-based!!?!  I don’t know HOW they made that cream or mayo or whatever it was, but boy did they do it RIGHT.  You don’t usually get such a thick slice of cucumber, but with that (ugh) chewy bread-   it just worked.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written about my hopeless love of chewy bread on this blog…  This had the best (sorry I couldn’t think of a better word here) chewiness.

Their “Egg” Salad Sandwich…  (SIGH) (sorry, a lot of sighing in this blog cuz-  I love them!!!) was ridiculously flavorful.  I don’t know how they got that yolky texture, but they delivered big time!  I have to admit: I was not looking forward to the egg.  I haven’t eaten eggs in months, and it just wasn’t an appealing thought at the moment.  That being said, I was BLOWN AWAY by the tang that greeted you!  They must’ve put sweet relish or something, cuz it was this explosive taste that just made you look for more.

Okay, mushroom.  You’re already knowin, I’m a mushroom freak.  Of course, I was looking forward to their Mushroom Tea Sandwich which is why I saved it for last.  It was meaty, it was juicy, it was creamy.  And the nuts, oh the nuts…I don’t even like nuts in my bread!?  It was so much fun in your mouth.  That is all.

sweets

By this time of the meal, I’m my usual self, with a half a scone to the side…my 2nd mushroom waiting, and 2 tastes of my friend’s themed tea dessert in line!  (my SIL cracks up about this every time!)  SO, I was pleased to see just a nice piece of shortbread and what I believed to be a Mexican Wedding Cookie.  That Shortbread was the crispiest crunchiest tastiest shortbread I’ve ever had.  And, I’ve had my fair share since that’s the Huz’s favorite.  I tried reeeeally hard to save him majority of it.  The cookie, was a REAL GOOD cookie.  I used to make those things all the time with my mom when I was younger.  I’ve had some from other bakeries…  This one was special.  I can’t tell you how or why, but they made it spectacular.

Guys-  I’m not proud of this blog post.  I don’t think I could have found all the words + adjectives to accurately describe just HOW MUCH I loved this place.  I can tell you tho, that history I was talking about at the beginning of this blog…  Yes, we still have 2 more Spots to visit.  But-  this place moved to my NUMBER ONE yall!!!  They’ve surpassed my expectations on all levels: service, food, and tea!  And you guys know I am very critical + my standards are ultra high!!  Please go and visit them!

Spot 27 :: Sip Tea Room

Our 27th Spot:

Sip Tea Room

721 Lincoln Way  San Francisco, CA 94122

siptearoom.com

 

If this address sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve already been here!  (Ay-yay-yay.)  And I only realized it, as we were already in the City looking for parking!  Ha.  I knew we’ve been to a tea house on Lincoln, but I don’t know whyyy I thought maybe there was another one on the same street!?  It didn’t dawn on me til the very last minute, that this tea spot could very well be in the exact space as the one we visited on December 2nd, 2014 (Spot 6).  Anyhow, it wasn’t a waste of time as this spot had new ownership as of a year ago.  VERY different experience from the last time.  Meaning = no gray/brown curtains that are supposed to be white.  Yuck.

 

outside

 

Very minimal décor.  We looked all around us to take in the huge differences from what was there before.  Yes, of course it was much cleaner.  The tables + chairs and chandeliers looked the same.  There was a huge chalkboard on the back wall, when you first walk in, that I liked.  What I didn’t like was how us standing at the front door was an afterthought.

chalkboard

wall

table

piano

 

They finally sat us, and I sneaked a quick pic of the table.  The small water glasses lined in the middle of the table were cute.  What stuck out like a sore thumb was when they set this old USED jar of honey on the table!!?!  I think the Queen would be very displeased.  Sure, it was definitely a more casual setting than what would be laid out for the Queen…  But that jar belonged in a pizza joint, NOT at afternoon tea.  And don’t even GET me started on putting out all kinds of things to flavor your teas…  If you have to set out sugar, cream, AND honey-  your tea must not be very good.  Which it wasn’t.  But, more on that later.

table

water glasses

honey

 

They offered 3 levels of tea service (not including the one for children).  Funny to see “coleslaw” on a tea menu, but whatever.  I didn’t go for the works today, and settled for the middle range.  This one didn’t come with the coleslaw and sweets; also, a small pot of tea, as opposed to a large.  There were 10 tea sandwich selections and surprisingly a good number of vegetarian options!  We were happy to see that.  I went for something that was interesting and something I wanted, for my 2 options.

For tea, although there were 17 different kinds, I still felt like it was slim pick’ns.  To be fair, there WAS an eclectic selection…different than you would see on other tea menus (like: chai + sencha).  There just wasn’t anything that was appealing for my individual liking.  I went with the Honeybush…

tea

The tea was okay.  It smelled better than it tasted.  They bring it to you boiling hot, which is a no-no.  Then say, “oh, it has to steep another few minutes”.  😐  Ugh, no.  Don’t do that to your customers guys!!  You’re leaving it up to US to professionally guess (yes, I meant for that to be an oxymoron), when these teas-  YOUR teas, are to be ready??  Bring it to us ready, at the temperature each specific tea should be, and to the desired steeping time that you would like to present it.  That made no kind of sense to me.  Honestly, it was just something hot to wash down the food I had so as no to choke.

 

scone

Even tho I know (per etiquette) the scone is 2nd course, I like it first.  P.S.  We didn’t get our food on cute tiers.  Each of us got plates with everything squished on, like you see here.  [Find out how I feel about this from Spot 2.]  Sooo, I didn’t even know how to take picture of this food…

What was cool about this spot (if I may finally say something positive about them), is you were able to select the scone flavor that was served to you.  On that big chalkboard, there are all the scones they offer listed.  Then, checkmarks by the ones they have that day.  The scone texture was nice: crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.  But boy did they lack flavor!!  Like-  there was nothing there!?  I had a Traditional Currant Scone.  Even WITH the fixings, it was so uneventful!!  And by the way, whatever those “preserves” are supposed to be…it looked like someone swished it in their mouth first then spit it out on the serving dish.  (Sorry for the visual, but you know I keep it 100.)

 

IMG_8050

[Here’s my best shot of the food, sorry.]

So-  I chose their Baked Ham, English Mustard, & Tarragon Butter (something interesting) tea sandwich, as well as the Sip’s Curried Chicken (something I wanted).

This is how dedicated I am to yall, I haven’t had pork in almost 2 years!!  But I looove tarragon, and I don’t generally see a sandwich like this on most tea menus.  (sigh)  It was just okay.  The bites that actually had mustard were nice, and I think they were using that new invisible butter (sense the sarcasm) cuz I didn’t see any in my cuts of tea sandwich…  (arms up)  The ham was overwhelming, and it wasn’t even good ham.

At least the curry was better than ‘okay’.  Woo-hoo, something above average!  Smh.  It still wasn’t fascinating per se, but it was edible.  The raisins made it interesting, and kept you going for more.

 

Overall, it was a below average experience.  The service wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t call them “warm” either.  OF COURSE, the girls I took with me made it a tolerable tea time!  We had a few first-timers with us, so that was exciting!!  So many better places in the City to have tea, and maybe that’s where I’m coming from with this review.  I never feel bad for being brutally honest, because that’s what I would want to hear if I’m having to spend money for food.  Check out our most recent raTEAng to find our favorites in San Francisco, and go show them some love!  I know we have 4 more to add, but we still have a couple spots I’d like to visit before the new year!!  I’ll update our full list after.  (high-five)

Thank you to our continued followers + readers!  We hope these posts help with creating fun + memorable dates, and fill your bellies with mouthwatering tea + food!!  Aaand, for not holding my honesty against me!  😀  Until next time…

Spot 26 :: Filoli Gardens

Our 26th Spot:

Afternoon Tea at Filoli Gardens

86 Cañada Road  Woodside, CA 94062

https://filoli.org/afternoon-tea/

 

Surprise!!  I told ya you would hear from us from time to time!  I have had some Spots in my back pocket to visit, but no set agenda.  Thought we would keep you on your toes…and only the exclusive hardcore Followers would know when a new Spot popped up!  😉  (just kidding, I love you all equally)

I had never heard about this place.  And only until my girlfriend mentioned they served tea, did my ears perk up.  You know I have to go to each and every tea place for yall roight?!  So we made a plan to go, and it just so happened that the weekend we were all available they were having a Flower Show!!  Cool, we’re there.  P.S.  I did NOT intend to visit this new Spot a year later, almost exactly to the day!!?!  (just noticed when I referred back to my last post…as I’m rusty with the blogging and wanted to make sure I got it all right for yall)

 

[Disclaimer: I didn’t feel like lugging my professional camera throughout the Flower Show, so these photos included are just from my beat up iPhone 6]

setting

When we got there, there were 2 lines: one for private seating and the other for general.  My friend had purchased our tickets online, and couldn’t remember which one we paid for.  For the amount we paid, I think we were supposed to be at a private table.  But, we were in line for ‘general’.  They sat us (there were 3 of us) at a table for 8 with 5 strangers.  Of course, these ladies were nice ladies…but we hadn’t seen one of our friends in awhile and wanted to catch up!  It woulda been nice to be able to have that private time, but whatev.  So, we couldn’t really “let our bellies hang out” if you know what I mean, since we were amongst other company.

I got excited as I read the menu tho.  For reasons I’m not gonna get into on this blog, I’ve had to change my ENTIRE diet due to health issues.  So, I was quite happy with the sandwiches we were going to be served.  All my favorite things: asparagus, basil, arugula…YAY!!

Oh, here’s what the inside looked like…

inside

It wasn’t fantastic, but oh well.  Kinda looked like Conference Room B, if you ask me…

 

These sweet grammas would come around and ask if you would like a pour of tea.  They were serving 3 types: Filoli Rose Tea, Traditional Irish Breakfast, and Fruit Blend Herbal Tea.  😐  Neither are my go-to’s, buuut I still didn’t let that bother me.  I’m not a breakfast tea girl nor a fruity tea girl, so I went for the rose.  It was niiiiice!  I think I might’ve had 10 cuppas of that stuff that afternoon!?  “Keep em comin granny!”  I even had to ask what the base tea was because I was in disbelief that it was black…it was SO LIGHT!!?!

tea

 

After a half a cup of tea, they started coming around with the tiers.

IMG_1564

I liked how they made sure to tell everyone at the table that they had one each of everything.  Some Most places don’t do…okay, NO other places really do that.  Then I have to tell my story about how I went to tea with a girl who didn’t know that etiquette, until we heard the other girl sitting next to her that she didn’t get a chicken curry sandwich!  Well, it was because the first girl ate TWO!!

 

scone

Only because everyone else was doing it, I went for my scone first!  Hehe.  (Hey-  you get nervous when you’re having to eat around strangers k!)  As you can see, it was topped with sugar galore.  It was a Lavender Scone with (what they say was) Clotted Cream (it wasn’t!!) and their specialty Marionberry Jam.  Very crumbly and dry and waaay too much sugar topping.  But I still ate it.  🙂

 

sandwiches

Interestingly, the sandwiches were all toothpicked together.  I had the Asparagus and Herb Goat Cheese tea sandwich to start.  (If you’ve read my posts on either Lovejoy’s or Lovey’s, you KNOW how I feel about asparagus sandwiches.)  Suuuper crunchy!!  I liked it A LOT.  And, the goat cheese was light and smooth.  I coulda had more of that one.

I think I went for the Sliced Turkey with Beet Hummus and Arugula next.  Earl Grey Gal said that one was dry for her.  But, I kept an open mind going in with this one.  Yum!  Since I stopped having poultry almost a year ago, I didn’t care too much for the turkey…but the hummus and of course the arugula (my favorite leaf!) MADE that sandwich, mmkaay!  And I think it was on a pumpernickel or rye bread-  delicious.

I saved the Prosciutto and Melon with Fresh Basil tea sandwich for last.  Doesn’t that just sound like a ‘dessert’ sandwich anyway!?  Who knows the song “Save The Best For Last”??  I’m glad I did.  That was wonderful!!  Perfect compliments.  I can still remember the flavors as I type this!

 

dessert

Even tho I didn’t want to (I’ve cut down on my sugar a lot), again because I didn’t wanna carry anything around with me in the gardens, I tried the desserts.  (And let me just say, it was almost NINETY degrees that day!!)  I do love me a Lemon Bar, so…  It was okay.  Nothing to write home to mom about.  Honestly, I think I make a better one from the box at home.  The Fruit Tart was sooo dryyy!  And the crust didn’t taste like anything!?  The custard I liked, but they were stingy with it.  The Chocolate Éclair was good.  (that’s the little pink thing in the picture)  But, you barely had a bite full of that one.  I washed it all down with more of that rosey tea!

 

All-in-all it wasn’t a bad tea.  I really liked my sandwiches.  BUT, for having to sit with people I don’t know, only 3 choices of tea, and only subpar food-  it was not worth the $75.00 we had to pay!!!  (Oh yes I did call them out.  My longtime followers know I don’t usually disclose tea service costs, but that was WAY TOO MUCH MONEY.  Now, the Gardens, were beautiful.  I don’t wanna ruin it for you, cuz it’s def a must-see.  But, I’ll include my favorite shots of the day…

arch

pool

 

Well, that was fun!!  I had forgotten how much I missed having tea and writing about it!?  THANK YOU to all of you, new ones to the blog and our loyal followers!!  There are a few more Spots we have yet to visit.  As Michael Scott says, “Catch you on the flippity flip!”

Spot 25 :: Eddison & Melrose

Our 25th Spot:

Eddison & Melrose Tea Room

25 Soledad Drive  Monterey, CA 93940

http://www.eddisonandmelrose.com

This Spot was supposed to be our 21st…but we missed it.  I was happy to include it on our Summer Tea Tour, but after going and meeting the owner-  I reeeeally don’t want to review this place!!  (expressing my whineyest face right now)  I don’t want to say ANYTHING remotely negative, because our time there was absolutely lovely.  HOWEVER, I feel like I owe it to my readers and even to her, to share my honest opinion.  From business owner to business owner, I’d like to think I’d appreciate any constructive criticism to better my craft.  🙂

When you call in to make reservations, you get a real English accent.  I loved that!  It really made you feel like you’d be having some authentic tea.  I also appreciate that they communicate by text message as well.  Hey-  if I don’t have to talk on the phone, that’s the option I will always pick!  😛

I always anticipate driving up to new Spots, cuz I’m curious where in town it’s located.  When I drive by different places on other days, I often picture perfect spaces for tea houses or tea rooms…so I’m fascinated as to why they picked this destination.  Did not expect for this place to be located in a shopping center/strip mall.  :/  Driving up to it, I felt like that alone already diminished my expectations of this Spot.  (Didn’t get a picture of it [nor did I want to really], cuz I had to rush in to toilet my daughter from our long drive up there.)

You walk in-  and it’s-  adorable.  Lot’s of lacey detail, a soft painted mural on the wall, hanging paper poofs…  The décor was minimal, but inviting.  There were only 5 tables, which I loved.  Tiny space, but you felt exclusive.  Our table (not pictured) had wicker chairs that I felt were super uncomfortable, even with the cushions.  And, the napkins looked a bit dingy…

table

We were greeted with huge smiles, and servers that look like they want to be there + your wish is their sole reason for living!  Not in an annoying way, but a very sweet + kind way.  There are 2 levels of tea service (not including the child one), but today I didn’t feel like getting the works so I chose the very basic one that at least included their scone. I’m glad my partner did tho, so at least we could see!  🙂  They didn’t have a plethora of tea choices, maybe 15.  Two of their special blends, then the rest were regular stuff you’d see on most tea menus.  Since I’m such a rooibos-lover, that’s what I looked for.  Tho, the choices they offered did not sound appealing to me (only cuz I’m not a fruity tea kind of gal).  There was one with strawberry and one with mandarin.  I chose their Strawberry Rooibos.  Sorry I did, cuz it tasted like Robitussin.  I had my girl pour it back in the teapot (sorry!!), cuz none of us were gonna try that one again!  My 2 other girls that I came with (my business partner The Earl Grey Gal and another darling dear friend) ordered one of their signature teas, Spencer George.  It says “Blended in honor of Prince George.  A smooth mix of Assam, Bergamot & Raspberry.”  Nothing I would choose, but I am so glad they did.  It was wonderful!  I’m not even sure how to describe it…it was vanilla-y to me, and the fruity bergamot notes were apparent.  And, I have to comment on how hot the teas came…  Sometimes you go to a tea house, and they are verrry careful about the temperature of your water.  So careful, I think, that sometimes they bring it out more ‘warm’ than ‘hot’.  My preference is a degree hotter than “just right.”  I like my tea hot.  I don’t want to drink lukewarm tea.  I think they did a good job with this.  Even burned my tongue once!  😀

rooibos

spencer george

My partner who ordered the tea service with everything, got a non-alcoholic sparkling drink and a salad with hers.  I didn’t think the salad dressing looked appealing (and I WON’T tell you what I thought it looked like), but my girl loved it.  I think she said it was “the business!”

salad

Mine came with 3 tea sandwiches (which are pre-selected for you), scone with fixings, and a pot of tea.  Their Smoked Salmon was sooo simple, but very good.  It was on a baguette, maybe some butter, and a tiny piece of curly parsley on top; the salmon tho was so delicate, it made this easy thing so luxurious.  The Ritz Cucumber again was ultra simple.  But, the crunchy-ness of those cucumbers made it spectacular!  Their Curried Chicken Salad tea sandwich, I didn’t like.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with the flavor really, I think I’ve just had better.  The texture tho-  it was like BLENDED meat.  😐  My partner didn’t like her Cranberry Chicken, but I did…so we switched, like we were in grade school or something!?  Lol.  That chicken had the same smushy texture, but either the smoky-ness of it or the fact that it tasted like mixed together Thanksgiving Dinner appealed to me.  Earl Gal also got a savory and some sweets.

afternoon tea

smoked salmon

cucumber

curried chicken

high tea

Okay, now for the reason why I didn’t want to honestly review this place…  (insert monkey covering his eyes emoji here)  The owner came out to visit with our table for a bit, which seemed like she did with all her guests.  She showed us a magazine she had been published in, and let us know that they were selling copies.  What I didn’t mention before was that not only were we interested in checking out this Spot, BUT our company parTEA with me was invited.  She sought us out on facebook, and sent a message personally inviting us.  Now the way I could tell that she didn’t do this with just ANY tea company-  when my partner mentioned that we were actually invited, the owner says “Are you parTEA with me??!!”  She said “You guys are famous!”, then she went on about specific social media posts that she loved…she knew about the Tour…and genuinely was a fan.  That alone made MY YEAR!!  Especially with all the changes going on with our business, her recognition of little ol’ us was validation enough for me that we have succeeded.

Though I don’t think I’ll be coming back to this tea house, I can wholeheartedly say that this was THEE best experience I’ve had so far in the 3-years-old-this-month Tea House Tour.  It was that conversation that made it. 🙂

Spot 24 :: The Tearoom

Surprise!!

We’re back!  There were a few Spots I missed on our Tour, so I’ve gathered a few of our Regulars and we’re doing a quick Summer Tea Tour!  We have 3 (maybe 4) brand new Spots to visit, and of course-  we’re taking you along with us!!  Join us again over the next few months for my brutally honest reviews + experiences of these tea houses!

 

Our 24th Spot:

6241 College Avenue  Oakland, CA 94618

http://www.thetearoomshop.com

the tearoom

 

Communication and reservations were fairly easy, as it was all done via email.  They did have us pre-order, which yall know is my fave.  😐  When we got there, it took a minute for them to seat us.  Theeen, when we were seated, (I counted) it took them a whole 10-minutes before they addressed us.  Lame.  The décor (was there décor??) was minimalistic, if that.  Seriously tho, you can’t call 3 jars of tea on a shelf “décor”.  There was ONE curio of tea paraphernalia…  And, don’t even GET me started on their wall sticker scene (which my girlfriend pointed out was not legally correct).  I’m really not trying to cap on their sense of interior design (I really am a nice girl!), it’s just-  there are certain things you expect when you hear “tearoom”.  This place looked like a Chinese restaurant…  I think their website is somewhat misleading, and I think they had a really good photographer for it.

decor

curio

sticker scene

table

 

When they finally paid attention to us, they set down this plate of canisters of tea.  I can’t even remember if the guy said what to do with them.  Obviously, they were for sniffing their selection of teas.  There were about 20 or so to choose from.  My girls got whiffs.  Because of my OCD, I’m not a fan of hovering my nostrils on top of old tea that who knows how long have been stored in containers that don’t have protective layers on top of them.  I definitely don’t judge those that do, I just think there is a more sanitary way of showcasing and allowing your guests to sample tea.  From my experience at festivals + other tea facilities that I’ve visited, I wasn’t impressed with theirs.

canisters

At our table, here were our tea selections + thoughts on them…

Vanilla Black – Surprise surprise, this is what I chose.  It was very bland, and I even let it steep a considerable amount of time (due to taking pics).

Caribe – My SIL didn’t really have any words for this, as there wasn’t really much of a flavor to it.  The best she could say was “fruity, desserty.”

Cinnamon Spice – Girlfriend said this was “liquid Big Red (the gum) that will numb your throat.”  After really giving this one a chance, she requested to change hers to White Peach.  Our server made a big deal about it and tried to laugh through the conversation, telling my girlfriend not to tell anyone that she’s doing this for her.  We all thought that was unnecessary…  Anyway, all she had to say about that one was “it’s peachy.”

Sally’s Secret – Two of my girls ordered this one.  The concensus: “It’s just earl grey, no secret about it.”

Lavender – This one was the most ridiculous of all.  There wasn’t even a color to it!?  It basically looked like hot water.  My hermana says “Nothing.  Can’t even say anything about it.”

After all of our bland and uneventful tea experiences, I decided to look in the infusers.  THEY WERE NOT ADEQUATELY FILLED!!?!  No wonder all these pots of tea were only so-so, they weren’t being served correctly.  Either they don’t know much about how to steep tea, or they’re being real S-T-I-N-G-Y.  Not nice.

tea

[I’m laughing at my uneven cuppa, cuz it goes to show you how uninterested I was at getting this shot!]

 

They offer 3 levels of tea service.  I’m gonna rush through the food part of this review, cuz I am just so done.

tier

My tea service came with 2 tea sandwich choices.  I got Curried Chicken and Ham, Brie + Apple.  The chicken salad was bland, the bread was dry.  When I had the bites with the coconut topping, it was rather nice.  THEN, I tasted the scallions.  Ew.  The brie, I could only take one bite out of, same with my girls that ordered it.  There was not enough ham, again with the dry bread…so dry that if you scratched it you can hear it (yes, I tried it), no flavor, and too much apple.  My Earl Grey Gal, after choking on the blackberry from her yucky miso-dressed salad, said the cucumber tea sandwich was “surprisingly good” and her first time having it without radish.  She gave me a bite, I thought it had too much cream.  Interestingly, it had some mint in it.

curry

brie

cucumber

 

We were served a Ginger Scone.  All the girls at the table really liked theirs.  I felt it was a bit too fluffy, but I liked the crispy bottoms.  The fixings were just okay.  Tho, some of my girls were mad that the preserves were touching!

scone

 

The service was fine.  I kinda wrote them off when the guy brought me an ICEE STRAW (!!?!) for my water in his bare hands, unwrapped, and not in a napkin.  Yuckth!  They weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either.  Of course, my girls made it the most pleasant experience you could ever have at a place as awful as this.

I’m sorry for offending anyone with my outspokenness of this blog post + review.  It was just really bad.  For our long time readers who have been with us since Spot 1, you know I tell it like it is.  Don’t waste your time coming.  I promise the Spots coming up will be better.  To be fair (I guess), I started this Summer Tour with the least interested place.  We try all of em so you don’t have to!  😉  Happy to be sharing with yall once again!

Full Circle

First Time

November 19, 2011 – Being bedridden for 8 months and hospitalized 20 times, pregnant with my 2nd living child/3rd pregnancy overall (you do the math…I miss you everyday Serenade Rei) and suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the only positive thing in my life (other than growing a human being inside me) (and well, the support of my husband, toddler son + family) was scrolling through friends’ + family’s facebook pictures.  Sad?  I know.  But it gets better, trust me!  One album in particular was of an old middle school classmate’s baby shower.  She had had it at some place that serves tea and other tea refreshments (as I knew it then).  I fell in love with the idea + décor, and just couldn’t wait to see what it was all about!  (I later found out it was at the original Crown & Crumpet in Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco.)  When my May-baby daughter finally took a bottle at 6mos (Thanks girl.), I searched for the closest tea house to me…called a few of my girlfriends + friends I wanted to get to know better…and suffered the worst case of Cuteness Overload as I stepped foot into my very first tea house, which happened to be Tyme for Tea & Co. in the Niles District of Fremont, CA.

I hosted approximately 4 tea parties there, before I became curious about what else was out there.  I wanted to try different places, buuut I didn’t wanna go alone!?  I sent an email to some girls, and see who wanted to join me on this quest.  I found 12 more tea houses/rooms around the Bay Area to go to, and figured if we went to one new one every month, we would finish in just a year.  Sweet!

What you don’t know (and what I didn’t know then either), is what was to unfold during this journey.  Because of past experiences (that I’m not going to fully get into, but I will give you a broad description) with abuse + depression, I experienced a lot of trust + abandonment issues.  Needless to say, though I made friends easily, I didn’t like to keep them.  I used to always say: “I don’t have friends.”  These girls I speak of when I say “my girlfriends”, are ones that I’ve met from my religious background.  I never brought that up before either, and I would like my blog to remain neutral so as not to erupt ANY sort of political feedback.  That being said, I knew who they all were but I was never close with any of them.  Sure, my sister-in-laws came.  But, that’s family…

When I invited these girls, of all ages from different backgrounds and different Congregations…some knew each other, some didn’t…  I didn’t realize the upbuilding + encouraging relationships that would establish-  over TEA!!?!  We would laugh (a lot) and cry, share stories of heartache + triumphs.  Some of these girls who didn’t know each other before, have bonded + created lifelong friendships!  And me, as the host-  it was SO NEAT to see it all unfold before my eyes.  Girls that never knew each other- following each other on social media and experiencing each other’s small moments together…  Girls that never knew each other- grieving over husbands lost in death…  Girls that never knew each other- making future plans to meet with their families…

As I reflect on the last 5 years, it wasn’t just about the tea.  Sure, we had lots of great food and met beautiful cups of tea.  We talked about our jobs + family, books + art, music, recreation.  But, we really formed everlasting connections and memories.

And me, I now have FRIENDS!!

I wanna thank each and every one of you girls.  Not just for sharing this ride with me, but for growing with me.

Vero

SIL

Sarah

Mary

Tina

Patty

Alex

Francesca

Roni

Amy V

Melissa

Michelle

Amy L

Kathleen

Erica

Heather

Florence

Gardenia

Rebekah

Raquel

Claudia

Vanessa

Lorre

Brandi

Margueritte

October 22, 2016 – At our last tea party, I was excited, relieved, and sad.  It’s not over.  There are just different things we get to experience now!  And btw girls, we were invited to London…  🙂

To our Readers + Followers:  THANK YOU!!!  I never thought when my friend suggested I blog about our Tour, that OVERNIGHT more than 400 of you would be half interested in tea parties!!?!  Please continue to share your experiences with us!  Ask your girlfriends to join you!  Share tea, and bond, and grow!!  I’ll keep you updated if/when we try any new Spots. Love you guys!!  Peace.

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