Song Tea & Ceramics: A New Tea-Tasting Room in SF by

Issue 14 · Warm Minimalism · April 10, 2014

Song Tea & Ceramics: A New Tea-Tasting Room in SF

Issue 14 · Warm Minimalism · April 10, 2014

Nestled among the Victorians of San Francisco's Lower Pacific Heights stands an unassuming tea shop. The delicate white typography on the window is enough to draw a passerby to peek inside. But it's the warm welcome and the shop's peaceful ambiance that makes you want to spend an afternoon tea tasting. 

Before opening Song Tea & Ceramics, Peter Luong worked in the family business, Red Blossom Tea, a business in SF's Chinatown that Luong's parents opened 30 years ago. Today, the company supplies many of the city's restaurants and cafes, and the success of Red Blossom Tea led Luong to recognize a need for refinement in the industry. Much like the best wine-tasting room in Napa, Song Tea's mission is to create an elegant environment for sampling and purchasing what Luong describes as "vibrant, high-quality teas that are hand-picked and crafted, and sourced in small batches."

Photographs by Dalilah Arja. 

Custom Made Credenza at Song Tea | Remodelista

Above: A credenza designed by Luong and his team serves as the shop's checkout counter; it was built by local woodworker Blair Haffly.

Song Tea & Ceramics | Remodelista

Above: Luong has "always been a fan of clean-lined, simple design: midcentury modern and Japanese and minimalist design. Song Tea & Ceramics is an amalgamation of those influences." Shown here, a Fukushu kumquat sits in an untreated wood frame alongside handmade ceramics. 

Ceramics at Song Tea in San Francisco | Remodelista

Above: The teapots are made from Zisha (which means purple sand in Chinese), a clay found in the city of Yixing in China's Jiangsu province. The process of making these pots is labor intensive: the clay isn't easily molded and the ceramicist must hammer it by hand. And because Zisha wares are unglazed, they retain trace amounts of tea from each use, creating a more complex flavor over time. It's important to limit the use of each tea pot to one kind of tea.

Shelving of tea at Song Tea & Ceramics | Remodelista

Above: Loose-leaf tea is stored in porcelain canisters lied up on custom-built shelves. Luong often takes buying trips to Taiwan and China to visit tea farms, and all of the shop's tea is sourced in limited batches from small operations. An online shop is in the works; click here to view Song's tea menu.

A complimentary tea tasting at Song Tea in San Francisco | Remodelista

Above: Although Song Tea is not a tea room or restaurant, you can expect complimentary tastings with delicious pairings. 

Back wall at Song Tea | Remodelista

Above: Luong's arrangements were inspired by his visits to tea rooms and restaurants in Japan.

Vintage Record Player & Tea at Song Tea | Remodelista

Above: A vintage Marantz amplifier from Luong's own collection sits on a shelving unit that separates the retail space from the office. 

Song Tea & Ceramics | Remodelista

Above: The tasting table was also custom built by local woodworker Blair Haffly. 

Song Tea and Ceramics Signage | Remodelista

Above: Graphic designer Kristen Penn is responsible for all of the shop's signage and packaging. 

Song Tea & Ceramics will be launching an online shop soon; until then, you can find its teas at a variety of cafes in San Francisco, including St. Frank, Ritual, and Jane. Go Get 'Em Tiger and G&B Coffee in Los Angeles carry Song Tea, as does Bartavelle in Berkeley.  

After all this tea talk, a recipe for Moroccan mint tea on Gardenista sounds good. And check out more of our ceramic-centric posts here



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