Price: $5.80 for a cup, $21.50 for a tea pairing for one
Discover the simple art of Chinese tea traditions at this modern and serene Hayes Valley venue. The brainchild of former Hong Kong residents Vincent and Rebecca Fong, this places is truly an urban refuge, complete with mellow lighting, cushioned group seating nestled in the windows, and large, airy nets that fall from the ceiling. Although you can just grab a cup of tea and have at it, you can also ask for the Gong Fu Cha service, which translates to "tea with effort." If you go this route, a server will set you up with a kettle, tiny tea cups, and a variety of utensils, along with instructions on how to brew your leaves to ultimate effect. If you're hungry, opt for a tea paired with steamed buns, scones, macarons, sesame balls, and an exotic fruit plate.
Taste Tea, 535 Octavia Street (between Grove and Hayes streets); 415-552-5668.
Photographed by Maria del Rio