American Tea Room
 

Photo credit: Kelly Bone

 

Photo credit: Kelly Bone

The place to go for teas you’ll find nowhere else

By Kelly Bone

Lush plants climb the walls of this industrial tea garden on the edge of the Arts District in Downtown LA, where delicate glasses of teas collected from all over the globe glow warmly in many hues. Inside the trussed and skylighted space, gilded bags containing house-made raw tea blends are available either for taking home or for enjoying immediately, prepared in one of the bar’s Bkon Craft Brewers—a reverse atmospheric tea infusion system.

If that sounds pretty serious, that’s because it is—but one need not be a tea expert to navigate the world of choices at American Tea Room. A large interactive “TeaZone” monitor lets visitors tap their way through the options, exploring based on regions and qualities and choosing from the resulting recommendations. If you’d rather follow your nose, samples of every tea are available for sniffing from vials below, too.

CEO David Barenholtz opened the first location of American Tea Room in Beverly Hills back in 2003, and it has only grown in popularity since. With swelling online sales, Barenholtz sought out a large space that could accommodate a warehouse and offices in addition to a tasting room with a cafe menu—a place where people could relax, work, and enjoy a bite with their cup of tea.

The Global Tea Bar menu offers delicious and sophisticated beverages like the iced Green Tea Tereré—layering Bliss green and white teas with sweet matcha, lime, and orange—and the hot Himalayan Butter Tea, a blend of Nepalese black, oolong, and pu er tea with butter, salt, milk, and honey. Another standout, the American Tea Shrub, blends blueberry rooibos, hibiscus, maple syrup, raw vinegar, bitters, and soda, hinting at the tea cocktails (the liquor license is already procured) that will be soon be offered with evening service at the tea room.

Designed by Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections, the cafe menu offers international flair to complement that of the teas that line the walls. The options range from the simple—like the kale hand pie—to more complex dishes like the shakshuka—grilled toast with red peppers, tomatoes, harissa, and onions with a sunny side up egg and yogurt. The interplay between food and tea really comes forth in dishes like the lapsang souchong short rib sandwich and the chai curry chicken salad. And for a sweeter accompaniment, fresh baked pastries—including gluten free and vegan options—tempt from inside a glass cube upon the geometric butcher block counter.

hours

Mon–Sat 9 AM–6 PM
Closed Sunday

price range

$6 (breakfast hand pie) to $17 (lapsang souchong short rib sandwich)
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