Blending tea is an art form akin to make a beautiful, complex, craft cocktail. Steve Schwartz, the CEO and Master Tea Blender behind the LA-based Art of Tea, which supplies high-end tea to the best restaurants in town (Bestia, Son of a Gun, Sycamore Kitchen, Sotto, LA Chapter, Alfred Coffee, Spago, Pizzeria Mozza, Rustic Canyon/Sweet Rose/Huckleberry/Milo & Olive, Cofax, and Plant Food and Wine are just a few) realized this a long time ago and set about changing the industry with his innovative blends in the business. He’s not only created custom teas for venues like Hinoki & the Bird, The Getty (based on the aroma of the flowers/beach), and Shutters on the Beach, but he’s also created a blend for Vera Wang that was inspired by the scent of a perfume they were launching. Here, Schwartz, tells Haute Living where to find the most luxurious teas in Tinseltown.
- Ceremonial Grade Matcha – Matcha is a particularly precious varietal of green tea that comes in a powder form and is whisked with a hot liquid (usually water) to create a frothy, fragrant tea beverage that is super high in antioxidants. You can find ceremonial grade matcha at Baltaire, the new steakhouse in Brentwood, where Beverage Director David Vaughn offers the luxurious tea beverage in a tableside preparation. For $15, the matcha is presented on a tableside cart, and whisked before the guest according to a traditional Japanese ritual. http://baltaire.com/
- Silver Needle – Organic silver needle is the most sought after white tea and is only harvested for a few days each year in the northern district of Fujian, China. This magnificent tea has a light golden flush with a unique savory aroma and a woodsy body. A version of this tea, a Silver Needle Chrysanthemum that features chrysanthemum blossoms for a light and refreshing infusion, can be found at Ink Restaurant in West Hollywood. http://mvink.com/
- Gyokuro – Adhering to the traditional Japanese methods of growing and cultivation, this superior grade green tea is prized and highly sought after. Select green tea leaves are shade grown for two weeks then promptly deep steamed after harvesting. A cup can be savored at Craft LA alongside Pastry Chef Shannon Swindle’s exquisite desserts. http://www.craftrestaurantsinc.com/craft-los-angeles/
- Green Kukicha – Craving restoration and refreshment? Try the signature iced tea at Redbird in Downtown LA that contains Green Kukicha. The organic blend is comprised of non-roasted tea twigs and leaves, and has a slightly fruity taste with a fresh grassy feel and a crisp finish. http://redbird.la/
- Naked Pu-erh — Pu-erh tea, which is cultivated in the Yunnan region of China, is an excellent coffee alternative traditionally touted for its many rewarding benefits. This particular pu-erh is cooked and has been aged for about 4-6 years. Order a cup at Copa Vida, Pasadena’s premiere artisanal coffee shop. http://www.copa-vida.com/