The Traveling Teacup: Teapod San Anselmo, CA
By Tiffany Picard
When I moved to San Francisco, everyone warned me of Mark Twain's supposed pronouncement: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco". As my friend Pru and I headed across the Golden Gate Bridge to visit the Teapod organic tea bar, the summer day was trying hard to prove that adage accurate. Cold fog shrouded the bridge so it felt like we were driving up to heaven. But suddenly the grey disappeared and we found ourselves in sunny San Anselmo, with blue skies and rolling hills all around.
The Teapod is nestled in a quaint neighborhood of boutiques and restaurants. Its renovated warehouse front was open, inviting us in to the bright interior. Sleek and simple décor brought the term "minimalism" comes to mind, but the shop was not cold the way some modern design can be. An afternoon rush brought in locals lingering over the daily paper and teeny-boppers getting their daily bubble tea fix. Customers greeted co-owner Chris by name. "The usual?" he asked.
But nothing is "usual" about the Teapod!
For starters, behind the tea bar sit three silver contraptions that look vaguely like espresso machines. Each one can infuse tea in just one minute, to maximize efficiency and consistency. The store sells only organic teas, fitting for the health-conscious Bay Area. In addition to 45+ loose teas, the menu includes tea smoothies (with probiotic boosts) and tea lattes. Even the Teapod's bubble tea is unique; in addition to powdered bubble tea mixes, Teapod also uses freshly brewed tea made to order.
I selected the Sparrow Tongue yellow tea, which was perfectly steeped and presented in generous-sized mug. It was sweet and fruity like a green tea, but with no astringency. For my friend Pru, a tea newbie, Chris recommended the Hojicha de la Crème tea latte. She loved the roasty green tea, which was married with vanilla blossoms and steamed with organic milk. The vanilla complemented the chocolatey notes of the hojicha, and the latte was just sweet enough to enhance the flavors without being overpowering.
The teas were so good, we had to try more! With the sun filtering into the shop and memories of the San Francisco fog behind us, we opted for some iced herbal teas. Pru's Parisian Red blend included rooibos, rose petals, hibiscus, and lavender. My Little Grasshopper had the refreshing flavors of lemongrass, ginger, and rosehips. The iced teas are also brewed to order, and the magic one-minute tea infusing machines ensured our drinks came quickly. Organic sugar, agave syrup, and Splenda were on hand if we wanted a sweeter drink.
The shop also offers treats catered by local chefs. The salads, wraps, and quiches tempted us, but we went for the pastries. A chocolate caramel shortbread seemed like it was created just to go with the hojicha latte, and the Mexican wedding cakes were buttery, nutty puffs that melted in the mouth.
When planning the Teapod, husband and wife duo Chris and Jamie wanted to create a unique tea experience. Customers responded with enthusiasm. Though the Teapod has been open for just one year, it already feels rooted in the heart of the San Anselmo community. This tea community will be spreading, too; additional Teapod locations are in the works, and their online store is going live in two to three months.
Chris explained that the couple's vision for the Teapod to was to create a means for people to integrate tea into their daily routine. The airy, simple space invites you to make space in your own life for daily tea and reflection—whether that's a five minute detour before work or a five hour study marathon.
Driving back over the Golden Gate Bridge, we watched the fog descend back on us, but the cold didn't bother us anymore. We were glad we had made space in our day to discover the warm tea oasis waiting for us at the Teapod!
Tiffany Picard is a tea-infused marketing consultant. She offers a menu of services, such as internet marketing, product design, and research. You can dive into her website at www.deepteas.com.