Tea Time


542 Ramona StreetPalo AltoCalifornia94301United States View Map


$2 Million




(650) 328-2877


Tea Time sells 130 kinds of tea: black, green, herbals, oolong, scented, blended and white. Tea has its own vocabulary, ways for grading the product and processing methods. As with wine grapes, terroir is an extremely important factor in the quality and taste of the product. The sum total of soil, altitude, rain and sun, it is the expression of the soil. Besides a wide range of tea available in the lounge, Tea Time offers scones, crumpets and tea sandwiches. Recently, I tried the Oriental Beauty tea service. A three-tiered caddy was brought to my table with a half-dozen tiny sandwiches, an oven-grilled spring roll and two petits fours. I found the pot of oolong perfectly steeped, fragrant, sweet and grassy on the tongue. It piqued my curiosity about the vast -- and unknown to me -- world of tea. Tea Time also offers classes to help people learn about tea; both introductory and intermediate sessions will commence in July. It's not unlike learning about wine. Tea, though, tends to be manipulated less. Contemporary high-tech winemaking sometimes involves reverse osmosis machines, designer yeasts, machine harvesting and a mad rush to market. Tea is still the hand-made product of tea masters who learned from their fathers and fathers' fathers. Techniques and processing methods vary by culture for black, green, white and oolong teas. Black teas are fermented, while green tea is non-fermented. Oolong is semi-fermented, while white tea undergoes almost no transformation after harvesting. Nguyen knows the geography of the tea business as if she invented it. "It reflects my personality, part of my native culture and tradition. I have been a tea drinker my entire life. Tea is for lingering; it keeps me grounded". Many claims have been made about the healthful properties of tea. It is said to be high in antioxidants that could reduce the risk of various diseases. Nguyen says she has spent much time looking into what is science and what is speculation. "I am careful with specifics about tea claims," she said. "My research is ongoing". Tea consumption is boiling in the United States. According to the Tea Association of the USA, sales were $6.85 billion in 2007, nearly quadrupling since 1990. Next to water, it is the most consumed beverage on earth. The increase in consumption can be attributed to the popularity of convenient ready-to-drink containers and the increasing health consciousness of consumers.

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