Not only is San Francisco well-known for its culinary diversity, but according to research, it is also the best city for tea lovers in the US. The study shows that it ranks 1st in the U.S. for the number of tea spots per square mile and 14th for average tea place review ratings.
In this article, we’re exploring the top 10 tea locales in the city. We’re not limiting ourselves to traditional tea houses; we’ll also feature cafes where you can enjoy an exceptional cup.
1. Sip Tea Room
Nestled near the iconic Golden Gate Park, Sip Tea Room offers a modern twist on traditional afternoon tea, serving it with a side of community spirit. This quaint, family-run establishment prioritizes using fresh, seasonal ingredients, all meticulously crafted in-house, right down to the clotted cream and preserves. It’s an approach that elevates the experience, enriching every cup and accompanying bite.
At Sip, the spotlight is indisputably on the tea. Their diverse menu boasts an array of high-quality loose-leaf selections, from time-honored classics like Earl Grey and Masala Chai to more exotic blends like Black Mango. Each tea is curated to both stand alone and harmonize with the food offerings, from the savory sausage rolls wrapped in flaky puff pastry to dainty finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones adorned with lemon and raspberry curds.
Beyond the tea and treats, what makes Sip unique is its commitment to the community. A communal table invites neighbors to share conversation over a complimentary cuppa, and the small outdoor garden patio serves as a casual alternative for those who prefer their tea al fresco. The atmosphere is undeniably warm and inclusive, a cozy refuge where the clinking of fine china mingles with the soft melodies of live music from local Bay Area musicians. Whether you’re looking to linger for an entire afternoon or steal an hour away from the world, Sip Tea Room awaits.
- Wide variety of high-quality teas
- Fresh, in-house-made food offerings
- Cozy, inclusive atmosphere
- Outdoor garden patio available
- Live music featuring local talent
- Can get crowded, affecting the ambiance
- Limited vegan and gluten-free options
- Prices on the higher side
Location: 721 Lincoln Way, San Francisco, CA 94121
Nestled on an unassuming street in San Francisco, Lovejoy’s Tea Room offers an intimate and unique tea experience that captures both the tradition and playfulness of a good cup of tea. Established in the early 1990s as an antique shop that happened to serve tea, the establishment quickly morphed into a haven for tea enthusiasts. Named after the fictional antique dealer Lovejoy from Jonathan Gash’s novels, the tea room prides itself on its laid-back atmosphere that nevertheless pays homage to the grand British tradition of high tea.
When you step into Lovejoy’s, you are welcomed by mismatched teacups and a diverse array of tea paraphernalia that contribute to its eclectic, quirky atmosphere. However, it’s the tea that truly shines here. The menu offers a remarkable selection of teas that are both expansive and accessible, ranging from familiar classics like Earl Grey to more exotic blends with quirky names that add a touch of whimsy to the experience. All tea is served in individual pots, allowing each visitor the pleasure of multiple cups.
Beyond tea, Lovejoy’s offers a menu of scrumptious finger foods like finger sandwiches filled with a variety of chutneys and cheeses, fresh scones that pair wonderfully with clotted cream and jam, and seasonal fruits. But despite the enticing food, it’s clear that tea remains the star. For those seeking an unhurried, quality tea experience, Lovejoy’s is a little sanctuary in the bustling city where one can relish the simple ritual of taking tea.
- Extensive and unique tea selection
- Quirky, eclectic atmosphere
- High-quality finger foods
- Individual pots for each visitor, allowing for multiple cups of tea
- Authentic British high tea experience
- Located on an unassuming street, it may be hard to find
- The atmosphere might not be to everyone’s taste
- It can get busy, potentially affecting the relaxed experience
- The menu may be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with tea varieties
Location: 1351 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Tucked away in San Francisco, Flour & Branch offers a serene escape with its focus on high-quality teas and baked goods. Inspired by founder Lauren’s family tradition of infusing love and kindness into food, the cafe strives for a balanced approach to sweetness and flavor, using natural, organic, and sustainable ingredients.
If you’re a tea aficionado, the cafe’s selection is a definite highlight. They offer a range of options, including the comforting masala chai and the more floral Edith Grey. If you lean towards the modern takes, the Matcha Latte with oat milk combines creaminess with the earthy notes of matcha in a balanced way. Also, their green hibiscus tea presents a delightful tartness that complements their bakery offerings well.
Speaking of bakery items, the emphasis is on creating baked goods that aren’t overwhelmingly sweet but perfectly balanced. From cookies to specialized offerings like the unique Mashuganah French Toast, there’s something for every palate. The café environment extends beyond food and drink, featuring a selection of lifestyle products that echo its commitment to sustainability.
So, if you’re in the mood for a quality cup of tea and a thoughtful bite, Flour & Branch provides a quiet, comfortable space to enjoy both.
- Diverse tea selection with unique options like Edith Grey and green hibiscus.
- High-quality, balanced baked goods made with natural, organic, and sustainable ingredients.
- Friendly, knowledgeable staff who offer detailed explanations about menu items.
- Cozy, inviting atmosphere with indoor seating.
- Offers a range of lifestyle products, making it more than just a café.
- Customizable service, including the option to heat up pastries.
- Convenient for office catering and gifting.
- The portion size of some drinks, like the Matcha Latte, may be considered small.
Location: 493 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Located in San Francisco’s Mission district, Dynamo Donut & Coffee offers a distinct approach to traditional donut-making. Founded in 2008 by Sara Spearin, who brings a rich culinary history from the city’s renowned restaurants, this café showcases a blend of midcentury and minimalist design, creating a calm setting for patrons. Using seasonal, local, and organic ingredients, the team at Dynamo crafts donuts that stand out for their texture and taste.
Tea lovers will find a pleasing selection here. The straightforward chai latte, sometimes sweetened upon request, and the iced tea ginger lemonade are notable mentions. Those intrigued by unique flavors might appreciate the strawberry earl grey tea donut or the green tea latte. Dynamo Donut & Coffee presents a thoughtful balance of artisanal pastries and carefully chosen teas in a relaxed environment.
- Unique, gourmet donut flavors.
- Donuts are made with seasonal, local, and organic ingredients.
- Offers a range of teas, including chai latte and iced tea ginger lemonade.
- Friendly and helpful staff.
- The atmosphere can be described as retro, with a good ambiance and music.
- The price point may be high for some customers.
Location: 2760 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
5. Wooly Pig
Nestled in the quiet Dogpatch neighborhood, Wooly Pig offers a modest yet thoughtful selection of teas that cater to a range of tastes. The cafe leans on simplicity and quality, with a tea menu divided into Black, Green, and Herbal categories. The black teas include varieties like grand crimson and lychee, offering deep, rich flavors. For those partial to green teas, the cafe serves up choices like jasmine petals and genmaicha—a mix of green tea and roasted brown rice.
If you’re in the mood for something more specialized, Wooly Pig doesn’t disappoint. Options like Thai iced tea and Honey ginger tea, which can be enjoyed hot or iced, are available. Matcha also makes an appearance in various forms, from lattes to a unique Matcha affogato.
The cafe isn’t limited to just beverages. It includes various food options, such as curry udon with steak, as well as a selection of desserts like Thai tea panna cotta. The space itself is small and clean, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. It even offers some Asian snacks and sauces for those interested in taking a little something home. Overall, Wooly Pig is a comfortable, low-key spot to enjoy a quality cup of tea and some nourishing food.
- Wide variety of quality teas, including traditional and specialty options.
- A clean, modern atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating.
- Offers additional products like Asian snacks, drinks, and sauces.
- Friendly and attentive staff.
- Quick and efficient service, including online ordering options.
- Limited seating may not be ideal for larger groups.
Location: 2295 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Nestled in a bustling part of San Francisco, Avotoasty is a niche cafe focusing on avocado toasts. The cafe’s diverse menu is accommodating, offering options suitable for vegan, vegetarian, kosher, keto, and gluten-intolerant patrons. Beyond its signature avocado toasts, Avotoasty has garnered attention for its teas and superfood lattes selection. The matcha latte, in particular, stands out, made with genuine matcha powder for an authentic taste experience.
Established in 2017 by Sofia Pinzon, a Colombian native with a passion for avocados, Avotoasty believes that food should be both nourishing and enjoyable. The menu is straightforward, presenting dishes that are as visually pleasing as they are tasty. The ambiance of the cafe, characterized by its wooden decor, is inviting. Offering indoor and outdoor seating, it’s a fitting place for those seeking a relaxed meal setting. Visitors can expect a laid-back environment and a variety of “good-for-you” foods that have been crafted with care.
- Diverse menu catering to various dietary needs.
- Matcha latte made with genuine matcha powder, offering an authentic taste.
- Friendly and accommodating staff.
- Both indoor and outdoor seating are available.
- The food presentation is visually appealing.
- Uses quality ingredients like Sightglass Coffee.
- Quick service with orders.
- Chai flavor in the dirty chai might be subtle for some tastes.
- Parking can be challenging.
- Space might not be ideal for larger groups.
Location: 1796 Union Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
Tucked away in the heart of San Francisco, The Center SF offers a unique space dedicated to high-quality tea and calm moments. With an array of organic options sourced from Rishi Tea and Five Mountains Tea, it’s a place where you can delve into a range of flavors. Choices range from simple brews to more intricate high-chamber selections, with Ginger Turmeric Herbal and Rishi Puerh being among the options to explore. The menu is thoughtfully arranged according to caffeine levels, making it easier for guests to pick a tea that suits their mood or time of day.
The atmosphere is decidedly low-key, reminiscent of an indoor Balinese sanctuary. Floor seating, cushioned areas, and low tables encourage a relaxed posture. While the focus is predominantly on the tea, the space doubles as a venue for open mics, yoga classes, and other events. Membership options are available for regular visitors, although the café also warmly welcomes those who drop by on a whim.
Though the atmosphere encourages mindful conversations and individual reflection, it’s also a versatile space where you can catch up on work or meet friends. If you’re looking for a spot in San Francisco where tea takes center stage amidst a laid-back setting, The Center SF might be your cup of tea.
- High-quality, organic tea selection sourced from reputable brands.
- Relaxed and unique ambiance featuring floor seating and low tables.
- Versatile space offering events like open mics and yoga classes.
- Friendly and warm staff, often volunteers.
- Membership options for regular visitors.
- Well-curated menu organized by caffeine levels.
- Ideal for socializing, working, or quiet contemplation.
- It can get noisy and crowded, particularly on weekends.
- Some patrons have reported territorial behavior over communal tables.
- The atmosphere may be too “alternative” or “woowoo” for some tastes.
- No outside food or drinks are allowed.
- No table reservations.
Location: 548 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Nestled in the bustling Japantown neighborhood of San Francisco, Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon serves as a sanctuary for tea enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike. Founded in 2008, the salon has transitioned through locations but has always maintained its core focus on serving quality tea. With a diverse range of options, from classic black teas to exclusive special reserves, there’s something for every palate. Popular selections include Peach Crumpet, Strawberry Fields, and Blue Eyes, each brewed to perfection in large pots that celebrate the tradition of British Afternoon Tea.
While the ambiance has changed over the years, the Tea Salon has adapted to its new, more compact setting inside the New People Building. Gone are the pink and white floors and chandeliers from its original Ghirardelli Square location. However, the establishment still manages to capture the essence of British charm, accented with modern flourishes. Though smaller in size, the salon ensures that the experience remains intimate and inviting. Guests can enjoy the “Tea for One” option, a generous spread that includes a variety of finger sandwiches, crumpets, and desserts served on tiered trays.
Above all, Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon prides itself on its attentive staff and a Pastry Chef who has elevated the food menu. While the salon may have lost some of its initial ornate flair, the commitment to quality tea and a relaxed atmosphere continues to make it a cherished space for locals and visitors alike.
- Wide variety of quality teas
- Intimate and inviting atmosphere
- Attentive and knowledgeable staff
- Pastry Chef elevates food offerings
- Smaller venue compared to the original location
- Less ornate décor than before
Location: 1746 Post Street, San Francisco CA, 94115
9. Son & Garden
Nestled in the heart of San Francisco, Son & Garden offers a unique blend of traditional tea culture and contemporary culinary creativity. The atmosphere resonates with the elegance of a classic English tea house but is rejuvenated with floral decor, pastel colors, and other Instagram-worthy details. The setting is undeniably charming, making it an ideal location for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and intimate gatherings.
When it comes to tea, Son & Garden doesn’t settle for the ordinary. The establishment provides an array of tea options, served in a dedicated corner adorned with whimsical decorations. The Barbie tea set is a special feature, incorporating a dash of nostalgia into a high-quality tea experience. Guests often remark on the tea’s delightful taste, making it a perfect complement to the cafe’s array of treats.
In addition to its tea offerings, Son & Garden is known for its eclectic brunch menu, which spans a range of global flavors. Standout items like Matcha Mochi Pancakes infuse traditional Japanese ingredients into a familiar American dish. The menu also includes a diverse selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, all artfully presented.
While the cafe can get busy, particularly during weekends, the attentive staff and quick service make it worth the wait. Even if you’re not a tea aficionado, Son & Garden’s atmosphere and culinary ingenuity make it a memorable destination.
- Elegant, Instagram-worthy atmosphere
- A unique blend of traditional and modern tea offerings
- Eclectic and global brunch menu
- High-quality tea and treats
- Attentive staff and quick service
- It can get busy, particularly on weekends
- Limited seating may make reservations necessary for special occasions
Location: 700 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
Tucked away in the midst of San Francisco’s bustling city life, the Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden offers a moment of calm and cultural enrichment. Surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens and a peaceful South-facing pond, the setting is a natural complement to the experience of enjoying tea.
The focus here is undoubtedly on the tea. Sencha green tea and traditional Matcha are among the offerings that attract tea enthusiasts and novices alike. The Sencha is known for its nuanced grassy aroma, and the Matcha comes served in a ritualistic fashion, accompanied by mochi with red bean paste. If you’re in the mood for something cold, the iced green tea offers a refreshing alternative.
The Tea House also serves a modest range of Japanese snacks, like vegetarian chili and chicken karaage. A unique feature of this venue is its custom-designed irori, or farmhouse-style family table, encouraging a communal experience for visitors.
Adding a touch of historical context to your visit, the Tea House continues the practice of including a fortune cookie with each bowl of Japanese rice crackers or arare. This tradition is said to have originated here in the early 20th century. Whether you’re there to relish a cup of tea or simply to absorb the scenic and tranquil environment, the Tea House makes for a memorable stop in your exploration of the city.
- Wide variety of teas, including traditional options like Sencha and Matcha
- Serene setting with a picturesque pond and well-maintained gardens
- Additional offerings of Japanese snacks and refreshments
- Historical significance, including the legacy of the fortune cookie
- Communal atmosphere encouraged by the irori (farmhouse-style family table)
- Outdoor, yet covered, setting allowing for natural ambiance
- Fast service
- High entry fees for both the garden and the Tea House
- Crowded, particularly during peak times, affecting tranquility
- Limited space in the Tea House, leading to long wait times
- Some maintenance issues in the surrounding structures
Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118