Move Over, Coffee — The 9 BEST Teas To Sip On

There’s something so satisfying about an artfully brewed cup of tea. For starters, it smells heavenly. It's typically light in taste. Plus, it doesn't hurt that, depending on the brew, tea's often packed with antioxidant-rich nutrients that do a body good.
So, whether you’re a coffee junkie looking to kick the habit or just want to reap tea's benefits, we’ve rounded up the nine healthiest variations in San Francisco. Green, white, or oolong — it’s all right here. Learn the type that’s right for you and steep away, friend.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Alishan Zhu Lu, $31 for two ounces, at Song Tea & Ceramics
Even if you know what you're having, block off some time before you step inside this tasting temple. Owned by Peter Luong, co-founder of Red Blossom in Chinatown, Song Tea is wholly focused on letting people explore a highly curated collection of loose-leaf teas. In fact, before opening, Luong spent two months in China and Taiwan during prime harvest searching for only the best. for example, he might brew you a light oolong called Alishan Zhu Lu (which means "dewdrop"). It’s a prime choice if you’re curious about tea’s potential weight-loss benefits, though promoting the health wins of tea is not Leong’s focus. He’s there to provide an educational service and, well, you’re there to enjoy his Alishan Zhu Lu.
Song Tea & Ceramics, 2120 Sutter Street (between Pierce and Steiner streets); 415- 885-2118.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Organic Detox, $3, at DAVIDsTEA
Still hanging onto that New Year’s resolution to incorporate more hearty elements into your everyday routine? Then, it’s time to visit DAVIDs. Walk straight to the Organic Detox and ask someone to prepare you a cup. It’s lemon-flavored and light, but this isn’t the type of tea you drink for taste. It has lemongrass in it which is believed to cleanse the liver, ginkgo for the brain, and juniper berries that are known to flush out toxins. One serving and you’ll be that much closer to achieving your 2014 goals.
DAVIDsTea, 2123 Polk Street (between Broadway and Vallejo streets); 415-567-8373.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Bad Bromance, $10, at T-We Tea
When you open your eyes and feel the aftermath of that heavy late-night meal (we pass no judgement here), Bad Bromance is the morning blend you need. The elixir has kidney-cleansing Nettle leaf, calming peppermint, and dehydrated carrot chips which round out the mintiness. This tisane is non-caffeinated, but that’s precisely what you want when you’re in detox mode.
T-We Tea, 50 Post Street (between Kearny and Montgomery streets); 415-500-2097.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Lev’s Kombucha, $3.50, at The Plant Cafe
Whether you just finished a big lunch or are curious about the living tonic’s possible wellness properties (it’s important to remember that many of Kombucha’s claims remain unproven), poke your head into The Plant’s Embarcadero location for its Kombucha of the Day (they also refer to it as simplye "Lev’s" on the menu). Made with probiotic-rich Kombucha from Lev's Original in Treasure Island and seasonal muddled oranges, this effervescent drink is unexpectedly peppy. Get it to go and take in a few views of the Bay while you’re there.
The Plant Cafe, 3 Pier #108 (between Washington and Broadway streets); 415-984-1973.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Blue People Ginseng Oolong, $30 for four ounces, at Vital Tea Leaf
It’s Sunday morning and you’re feeling the regret of last night’s decision-making (read: partying). Well, if you can make it to Chinatown, you should pay Vital Tea a visit. While a majority of its patrons come to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of Chinese teas through complimentary tastings, there is a number of people who know what they want. On this day, that’ll be a Blue People Ginseng Oolong (insiders call it the hangover cure), harvested in the mountains in Taiwan. The tea is simple and mild, but you’ll love drinking it because oolong is great for digestion, has just enough caffeine to inject you with a burst of energy, and the ginseng powder gives it an almost sweet taste...almost.
Vital Tea Leaf, 1044 Grant Avenue (between Jackson and Pacific streets); 415-981-2388.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Red Rooibos Tea, $3, at Pressed Juicery
You may have been to cult-favorite Pressed to pick up your hearty kale juice, but it’s time to go for a new order. Pressed's immune-boosting Red Rooibos Tea is surprisingly sweet (all-natural, too!) and if you’re feeling like you need a surge of vitamins in your system, this is a winner. Rooibos is rich in bioflavonoids (which improve blood circulation) and is believed to aid with ailments like headaches, insomnia, and even nagging allergies. Scoot over, green juice!
Pressed Juicery, 3901 24th Street (between Sanchez and Noe streets); 415-285-1414.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Turmeric Spice, $10 for a pot, at Samovar
Turmeric has been used for thousands of years as a healing spice — it’s an anti-inflammatory, among other things — and in this densely flavored blend you’ll certainly taste it. The turmeric gives the drink an orangey-yellow hue, and if you like full-bodied teas, you’ll find it to be outstanding. Ginger, orange, licorice root, and lemongrass help balance things out, and if you want to add a dollop of honey, just ask for it. The added honey is not only sweet, but it can help you digest the turmeric properly.
Samovar, 730 Howard Street (between 3rd and 4th streets); 415-227-9400.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Ginger Pear Kombucha, $5.25, Sidewalk Juice
Straight Kombucha is an acquired taste (it’s a fizzy fermented drink that often smells likes vinegar), but when you mix it with fruit, you can transform the flavor into something similar to juice. This curbside walk-up gets its green tea-based Kombucha straight from the source (yup, Lev’s in Treasure Island), then they blend in ginger and pear to give it a little zing. (The ginger is a great bonus, because it’s an anti-inflammatory.) The drink is served in a plastic to-go cup so you can be about your day just as soon as your enzyme-packed tonic is ready.
Sidewalk Juice, 3287 21st Street (between Valencia and Bartlett streets); 415-932-6221.
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Photographed by Ashley Batz.
Body & Soul, $2, at Leland Tea Company
If you’re in need of a solid pick-me-up, ask for a pot of Body & Soul from Nob Hill’s Leland Tea Company. Sure, you can grab the bevvie to go, but we recommend taking a seat to enjoy the full journey of your order. As it steeps, hover your nose over the lid and breathe in the aroma — you should pick up on the apples and cherries pretty quickly — and when you take your first sip, the chamomile and orange peel will hit you like an easy wake-up call...just what you were looking for.
Leland Tea Company, 1416 Bush Street (between Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street); 415-346-4832.