Japanese Tea Garden (SF)

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden (Golden Gate Park, SF)
Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden (Golden Gate Park, SF)

It’s almost a year now since I visited California for an amazing few days in Sonoma, followed by a day in San Francisco. I had heard about this amazing tea garden in Golden Gate Park through the grapevine and put it on my list of places to visit while were were there. After driving around, and getting lost (just like in DC!) we finally found our way into the park.

When I saw the Japanese Tea Garden, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. The gardens are lush and green and peaceful. I went crazy with my Canon Elph shooting every little thing I could see. When we finally made our way around to the tea house, we found a little spot alongside the long bar-like structure and pulled up two stools. It’s an open-air environment which made it even more unique. Tim and I ordered the tea and cookie and they promptly brought it out along with a few snacks. The oolong tea was rich and mellow and full of flavor. Tim had not had oolong tea before and decided to give it a try. He’s heard me rave about oolongs for the past year, so it was bound to happen. He tried. He liked! Another oolong lover is born.

I wasn’t leaving the tea house without taking some oolong back with me. So I scooted over to the little area where they sell teas. I asked them which one they had served and they directed me to this plastic, unmarked container filled with leaves. I lifted the lid to smell and then bought. I have no idea which oolong they sold me because there is literally no markings.


As you can see from the photo (which I just took), some of the leaves are large and some are broken. There were a few twigs in the mix. The dry leaf color is dark brown although the photo looks as if its on the sienna or reddish side and the aroma is just wonderful. I wish there were a way to upload a scent. This oolong is earthy and nutty, in both smell and flavor — just the way I like it. Ive been sitting here with my furry companions, Winston and Oliver sipping this spectacular oolong all afternoon. Anyone that knows me, knows my love for oolongs run deep. Every chance I get, Im talking about oolong. And why shouldn’t I? This blog is about TeaLove and I’ve got it bad for oolongs. Im thinking the closest in flavor and maybe in leaf that we sell at Pearl, is our Wuyi Great Red Robe (Da Hong Pao):

Great Red Robe is a dark roasted oolong from the dramatic red mountains of Wuyi, in Fujian province. With Tieguanyin, it is perhaps China’s most famous oolong tea. Great Red Robe has a complex character that unfolds on your palate for many minutes after you take a sip – sweetness, chocolate, roasted nuts, subtle hints of peach. Acccording to Chinese Medicine, this ancient tea strengthens and aids digestion.

If you haven’t tried oolong tea, you must stop what you are doing and get some. And drink it right now just like I’m doing… I’d love to hear from you and if you have TeaLove for oolongs like I do.

Ok, so….I highly recommend a visit to this garden. Make the time to really enjoy the pleasure of the scenery and then sit and have a cup of oolong tea and an almond cookie.

Japanese Tea Garden
Golden Gate Park, across from the California Academy of Sciences
(415) 752-1171 Daily 9 am – 6 pm
Tickets $4 adults, $2 children/seniors; Free on the first Wednesday of every month
Tea and cookie: $2.95

Opened in 1893, the Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest traditional Japanese garden in the United States. Its five acres of land are intricately landscaped with pagodas, ceremonial Buddhas, Koi ponds, waterfalls, cherry trees, stone gardens, and a half-moon bridge at such a steep angle that no kid can resist climbing it. After meandering along its many pathways, stop at the traditional Japanese tea house for a pot of green tea and a cookie ($2.95). Although beautiful during any time of year, the Tea Garden is at its best (and most popular) during the spring.

Japanese Tea Garden (SF)