We’re always on the lookout for gourmet, quality loose-leaf teas. I recently did some searching online and discovered Beverly Hills-based American Tea Room. In business since 2003, the tea shop has won awards for its store design and products as well as shout-outs from Newsweek to Oprah. The product line has grown to accommodate an international clientele with a wide variety of teas and gifts to match.
American Tea Room sources teas and tea ware from around the world, making them available to both Los Angelenos and online shoppers (sadly I moved from LA to San Francisco in 1990 so have yet to visit their shop).
The collection includes rare single estate teas, whimsical rooibos blends, matcha, USDA Certified Organic teas, Earl Grey blends and more. American Tea also has a strong design aesthetic as I found from their packaging and brand identity. Teas are shipped in red-tissue-lined boxes; the packages contain ziplock-style closures for storing in a cupboard or in tea tins.
In addition to gourmet teas, they also stock a curated selection of teacups, teapots, matcha bowls and custom tea-scented soy wax candles, plus gourmet foods, chocolates, and jams from Valerie Confections and organic Hawaiian honeys.
We tried two premium green teas, one green/white blend, a premium white, three botanical infusions, and two premiums reds.
Extreme Vanilla (Premium Organic Green) – The deep, rich vanilla taste of this tea leads to the gentle aroma of Bancha leaves. We found that this tea imparts a slight nuttiness when brewed, but not bitter as in some green teas. Extreme Vanilla uses three types of hand-cut vanilla beans from Madagascar, Tahiti, and Indonesia.
Nirvana (Premium Organic Green) – You can smell this lightly caffeinated tea’s fruitiness from the moment you open the package. The berries and kiwi really stand out in this Japanese Sencha green blend. Fruit rises to the surface and expands with an aromatic burst in your teapot.
Bliss (Premium Organic Green/White tea blend) – This one’s really sweet and bursts with pomegranate flavour upon brewing. Bliss tea includes both green and white teas blended with pomegranate, dragon fruit, and a hint of lemongrass, creating a smooth blend that’s perfect for morning sipping.
La Vie en Rose (Premium Organic White) – Delicate rose aroma grows stronger when brewing, then makes for a delicate sip. The buds and green leaves of organic Bai Mu Dan-style white tealeaves are married with wild fuchsia rosebuds for a floral-enhanced cup of white tea.
Choco Latte (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Choco Latte is a chocoholic’s dream, made with organic cacao husks along with both organic vanilla beans and organic rooibos to create a rich, intoxicatingly divine cup of tea filled with antioxidant-rich rooibos.
Sweet Lullaby (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – We detected lots of lemon and lavender at the nose, immediately followed by mint. We’re looking forward to warmer weather when we’ll serve this one iced together with lemon shortbread!
Brioche Free (Premium Organic Botanical Infusion) – Brioche Free is an experience akin to opening a package of sweet buns! Organic and caffeine-free, this botanical infusion is a perfect afternoon treat. The tea contains apple, almonds, cinnamon and beetroot.
Blueberry Rooibos (Premium Organic Red) – Smells gorgeous! When I originally opened the shipment of teas, I believe the blueberry aroma from this one was the first to reach my nostrils.
Lemoncello (Premium Organic Red) – Another amazing beauty to smell and taste. What a burst of candied lemon and herbs in this organic rooibos blend! Lemoncello’s made from “sienna and burgundy rooibos needles spiked with shards of vibrant lemongrass and seductive curls of marigold”.
It was hard to pick a favourite, but out of the above teas we sniffed, brewed, and sipped, Lemoncello, Brioche Free, and Extreme Vanilla scored highest for taste, aroma, and overall enjoyment.
American Tea offers free shipping on orders over $50 within the US (orders also include a few free samples). There’s two options when shipping to Canada: $5.95 ground service or $25 FedEx; no minimum purchase required.
Visit the American Tea Room at 401 North Cannon Drive in Beverly Hills.
We were sent a selection of American Tea Room teas for the purpose of sampling and of writing this feature.