Tea or Coffee? Elvis or The Beatles? You might appreciate both, but in reality your likely a coffee drinker or a tea lover.
In the past, the multitude of coffee houses out there have left teadrinkers feeling a little overlooked and having to resort to doily-froofy-frump tea houses. While they might be perfect for Grammie on mothers day, hip they are not. Luckily the future is no longer looking bleak for us Orange County based teadrinkers because we've found some exiting hot spots offering excellent cups of tea.
1. Lavender Lounge
104 N El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
First, heads-up on an almost hidden flight of stairs. Not your typical tea parlor at all: cool, sheik, a little hip, most importantly a great place to retreat to for a great cup of tea. The selection is quite decent; roobios, white, green, black, herbals … enough to fill an entire wall. I take a few moments to smell some of my many options.
Wanting something strong I go with a cup of Yerba Mate. It's super strong and gives me a boost of energy. Overall this is an excellent place to relax, people watch, and learn about the origins and health benefits of different teas.
2. Mitsua Marketplace
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
You enter Mitsua and for all you know, you are in Japan. I find myself distracted by the interesting and useful culinary items I want and need. Regardless I resist the urge to buy everything I see and make a bee line for Santouka Ramen. Order a bowl of piping hot noodles and a cup of hot green tea. Once I've received my order, I relax in the food court and allow the comfort of the noodles to enter my system. Happily, the hot green tea gives me enough extra energy so that I can browse the Isles of the supermarket and get what I need.
3. Coffee Pub
384 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Mon-Sat 6am-5pm Sun 7am-4pm
Perhaps I'm a bit biased towards the Coffee Pub since it serves as my home office, due to the free wI-fi, friendly service and good energy. What truly keeps me coming back are the freshly baked pastries and the tea. Large glass bins filled with fresh, bulk tea selections line the large granite counter top bar. My two personal favorites are the Tiki Tiki Chai and the Jasmine. Both have enough caffeine to send me to the moon. There is ample seating inside but I prefer to sit outside in the courtyard with the rest of the Lagunatics.
4. The Posh Peasant's Tea Room & Cafe
220 Avenida Del Mar
San Clemente, CA 92672
As I enter the Posh Peasant I'm greeted by friendly ladies. The atmosphere feels a little like an Irish bed and breakfast. I sit down and order the French Caramel crème Brule tea and a blueberry scone. I'm definitely a hat person, so as I waited for my tea to arrive I took one off the wall and put it on.
My tea arrived in its decent sized pot. After adding a little cream I took a sip. So delicious, but definitely did not require any sugar or honey. The blueberry scone was fresh and delicious, A perfect pairing! Afterwards I took a stroll along the beautiful San Clemente pier.
5. Montage Laguna Beach
30801 Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
It's so rare to have a day off from work and obligations, but every now and then when I do, I like feeling like a Princess. Doted over and lavished with quality service at The Loft, located at The Montage, which has a very regal modern Titanic feel to it.
Almost immediately I'm offered assistance. I ask about the tea selection which is vast. Many different types of organic loose leaf and bagged teas. I always enjoy living on the wild side and trying something new, so I go with the burban rooibos, a red tea from Africa; and to go with my tea, the honey crisp soufflé.
After my tea steeps, I stir in some milk and French wildflower honey, and take a sip. Absolutely heaven! A unique tea infused with a burban caramel essence. What more could you want in life. And then the honey crisp soufflé arrives with a scoop of honey and sage ice cream and garnished with apple chips and cinnamon cream.
6. 7 Leaves Cafe
9786 Westminister Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844
Ever since I was a kid living in Hawai’i years ago, I've been hooked on milk tea with tapioca pearls. aka boba. 7 Leaves Cafe is conveniently located near my favorite place to shop, Little Saigon. I decided to get my fix!
Since it's part of a tiny strip mall with limited parking, I had thought this would be a hole in the wall, but it's nice and clean inside, with a Chinese tea house vibe. There are only two tables inside. However the friendly and helpful staff makes up for the lack of seating. Not a huge menu, just a few original offerings.
I go with the Mung Bean milk tea with boba. The flavor absolutely reminds me of the Vietnamese desserts I've always enjoyed. The quality of the drink was excellent! Not overly sweet. The boba is chewy and sweet. Simply authentic and refreshing. Yum.
7. Tea Garden Creperie at Sherman Library and Gardens
2647 E Coast Hwy
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625
Sat and Sun 11:30 am – 3 pm
First I had to smell the roses, then I had to check out the herb garden and finally the colorful Koi fish. As I sat down I thought to myself: “If Monet were alive today, the Sherman Library and Gardens would be more than enough inspiration to create a masterpiece.” But I simply needed a good cup of tea and a hot crepe. Luckily according to this weekend only eateries name sake I was in luck indeed! The wonderful waiter brought me a simple cup of chamomile tea which was followed by a beautifully presented sugar and butter crepe. Not exactly fast food but I must admit I was in no hurry. After my third cup of tea I said good bye to the cute little turtles before I left. Wish I had a garden like that!
8. Milk& Honey
2981 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
Thur – Fri 7am-10am
This is where the cool cats collect … I almost feel like I skipped school. It's hip and tiny yet charming and even a little Zen-like.
Everyone I know has been raving about the lavender latte so I ordered mine hot along with a piece of their homemade baklava. I snatch up a highly coveted seat outside on the patio so I can relax and sip. Free Wi-Fi makes it easy for me to sneak in a few emails while I wait. My order is ready in just minutes.
The latte smells incredible, like a fragrant bouquet. I take a sip …it's piping hot and creamy. The milk perfectly infused with organic honey and lavender, without being overpowering. The baklava is the perfect accompaniment: sweet, crunchy, buttery. It's obvious ... they seem to care about every detail here.
The Perfect ... Tea - Time At Home!
Great things to stock-up on for tea at home!
Honey: Equally important to a personal tea collection: An organic honey collection! Try Eucalyptus blossom honey found at most Orange County based Farmers' Market.
Artichoke Tea: Add it to your tea box collection. Find it at Little Saigon or any Asian market. Perfect when you want a tea that's a little sweet and refreshing.
B Toffee: Perfect to have on hand in case of unexpected guests: B Toffee is made in Newport Beach. It's buttery, not overly sweet and it looks pretty. Put some on a pretty plate and voila, you’re ready to serve tea, with no effort.