I often remark that the LA tea scene has me uninspired, and simply wanting more. Just this fall, American Tea Room opened its second location on South Santa Fe Avenue in Downtown LA’s Arts District. The space is casual and contemporary, with a refreshingly global tea influence. Upon entering American Tea Room DTLA, you’re greeted with an uber-chic garden patio. The space is shaded and there’s a lush planter wall that gives that nature meets concrete jungle LA vibe. It’s a fantastic backdrop to Instagram the amazing drinks that you’ll soon be enjoying from the tea bar. Tea is often associated with upturned pinkies and fine china, but you can throw those ideas out the window at this tea room. CEO David Barenholtz has created an eclectic Global Tea Bar that highlights tea traditions from all around the world, with a focus on exotic and adventurous flavors.
And of course, if you do miss that traditional English-style tea scene, you can indulge in scones, tea breads, or other rich pastries from Valerie Confections. If you’re looking for something more substantial, try their tea-infused menu items including Lapsang Souchong Braised Short Ribs on Texas Toast, also created by Valerie Gordon.
After you’re done ordering, make your way over to the main space of the tea room. This open, warehouse-like space is perfect for a moment of relaxation and zen. The soft, natural lighting coming from above give a sense of rejuvenation and set the stage for your well-deserved tea break.I ended up enjoying two teas on the day I visited. The first was Himalayan Butter Tea, a creamy cup rich in buttery caramel flavors. The brew is a mix of Nepalese Black, Oolong, and Puerh teas along with milk, honey, salt, and, of course…butter! Exceptionally delicious on a cold, wintry day.
My second sip was Okinawan Life Tea, a bright and lively cup that’s almost ginseng-like in taste. This invigorating brew is made from Jasmine green tea, ginger, mango, and honey. I especially loved the added turmeric, which gave the drink a brilliant orange hue.
In between sips of tea, make your way over to the Tea Zone, an interactive touchscreen system that guides you towards that perfect cup. If you’re a picky tea drinker, the Tea Zone was made for you.
Just in front of the touchscreen, you’ll find a series of tea-filled tubes, each with a bar code. Open a tube and take a whiff. If what’s inside pleases you, simply scan the code under the red light and everything you need to know about that tea will appear!
There are so many teas and blends at American Tea Room that it’s hard to pick out just a few to take home. Word to the wise, their Brioche black tea is one of their most popular flavors. This tea is available in regular and herbal, both organic. I haven’t tried it myself, but did gift it to fellow tea blogger, Jee @ Oh, How Civilized and she gave it a thumbs up!
Another tea that stood out was this Hekisui Artisan Matcha. This is not your everyday matcha. It’s described as having “notes of lobster bisque, sweet peas and sweet cream.” This is a Grand Cru matcha, the best of the best, and only found in the US at American Tea Room. If you’re into vintage tea culture, you might want to check out the loo on your way out. Inside, you’ll find retro tea-inspired posters, a reminder of how tea time continues to evolve. Visit American Tea Room in Downtown LA for a clever and eclectic tea experience. Los Angeles has a handful of good tea shops, but none as distinctively modern as this one.
The Himalayan Butter Tea and Okinawan Life Tea enjoyed were courtesy of American Tea Room. A special thanks to David Barenholtz for sharing his teas with me!
American Tea Room, Downtown LA
909 South Santa Fe Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90021