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Refined Tea in Hayes Valley - Review by Avery G | Modern Tea

Modern Tea

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Refined Tea in Hayes Valley 4/29/2006

For the past few months, I've been patiently watching and waiting for Modern Tea to finish their renovation of the practically cursed space at the northwest corner of Hayes and Laguna. I'm a tea lover, but just don't like sipping tea while dealing with the constant hiss of a steam wand while people are making cappuccinos, and the pseudo-Asian styling of most tea houses is, for some reason, a turn off (though real Asian tea houses are aces in my book). Sometimes, I just want a peaceful, calming almost spa-like environment without any chatter or clatter. When this is what I need, Modern Tea fits the bill. The scene is serene - a muted pale green color scheme, honey colored wood, and light jazz in the background. The first thing I noticed, or actually didn't notice, was the typical jarring beeps of the timers for the tea pots - instead, the timers flash and vibrate to alert the staff to attend to the tea. The attention to detail is evident throughout the cafe, from the petit-fours (the texas sheet cake is fantastic) to the soap in the bathrooms (rosemary and lime). The tea selection is well chosen, about 18 varieties ranging from black teas, oolongs, green teas and tisanes. The Pu-Erh was extremely good, as was the taiwanese oolong. Instead of the more common method of using a large pot of water for the steeping, small teapots are used, accompanied by a carafe of hot water. As long as you keep the leaves damp, you can get at least 4 cups out of each serving of leaves and as the tea oils are leached out during each brew, the flavor changes - giving the drinker interesting experience and a more precise level of control. I can read the tea leaves... and they say I'll be back soon... more
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