Today is the day that American Tea Room opens its doors to the public at its latest location in Downtown Los Angeles, starting at 9am, at 909 S. Santa Fe Ave., 90021.
Adorned outside with a vibrantly colored, abstract-style mural by SABER, the interior of the Beverly Hills-founded specialty tea retailer is clean, crisp, and sleekly designed in contrast, particularly to its industrial landscape surroundings. It boasts a tea bar, an modern outdoor eating area complete with fire pits, a golden selection of bagged and loose teas, comfy seating inside and out, and even an interactive Tea Zone where you can scan tea-filled vials on a computer and encyclopedic results about each of your selections (origins, preparation, etc.) are displayed on a touchscreen.
Currently quiet to foot traffic (this will soon change), the boisterous noises now mostly come early morning from city buses, delivery trucks, and even semis as they bounce and weave their way towards the 10 freeway.
American Tea Room promises to be that peaceful oasis in the midst of this industrial area I’ve called the “BADlandsLA” for years (Beyond Arts District). Across the street from where an outpost of the Soho House will soon be located, American Tea Room is a great addition to this already booming Arts-District-adjacent area that includes an eclectic mix of art galleries, cafes, restaurants, coffeehouses, design studios, event venues, creative offices, artist lofts, theater spaces, and even a doggie day care center.
Greeted warmly at the door by owner and world tea connoisseur David Barenholtz, I stopped by the cafe last night for their “Friends & Family” events where I sampled ice-cold flavorful teas, bites of the tea-inspired cuisine created and prepared by kitchen master Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections, and even tea-inspired libations created by mixologist Josh Suchan.
American Tea Room carries a seasonal, rotating selection of over 200 teas from around the world, including rare single estate teas, tea blends, herbal teas, matcha, blooming teas, Earl Grey and English Breakfast blends and more in every tea category, with a majority USDA Organic. Many of them are hand-selected by Barenholtz on his yearly travels around the world.
A staunch coffee drinker, I am now a solid convert on my way to becoming a “TEAtotaler” (definitely not a teetotaler after tasting the refreshing cocktails).
–Melissa Richardson Banks