On May 16, Alfred Coffee owner Joshua Zad will open Alfred Tea Room, a shrine to all things tea and the first non–coffee-centric venue from the Alfred team. Like the Alfred Coffee locations, the Melrose Place tea shop pays close attention to design details — in this case, think dusty rose Le Creuset tea pots and platters, gleaming brass taps behind the counter and floor-to-ceiling pink tiles. If the look of the place is too bridal shop, suppress the urge to flee until you’ve browsed (and smelled) a few of the tea options.
Alfred Tea’s “Fancy Pink Tea Menu” will offer about 30 different teas — including tropical coconut, rosy white and genmaicha. Smith Teamakers in Portland and Tea People in San Francisco are among suppliers for now; Zad says he’ll keep his vendor list flexible in order to secure the best teas around. Seasonal drinks will be posted on a mirror to the left of the counter. Up first is a lavender matcha mimosa and a ginger chai mule.
Standard matcha options include a shot ($4), a cortado ($5) and a latte ($6). For the “ceremonial” version ($7), matcha powder is pressed with a bamboo scoop through a sieve (the finer the matcha, the smoother the foam), then whirled in a bowl with hot water using a bamboo whisk called a chasen.
Drinks on the boba menu feature house-made tapioca balls sinking into the likes of chai, Earl Grey and Thai teas, and house-made syrups — turbinado sugar, California honey and vanilla — are on hand to sweeten your order. Chai lattes, kombucha and iced tea on tap are among other choices. The only coffee in the house: cold brew, also on tap.
Pastries and light snacks are available from M Café de Chaya and Café Gratitude, and there's seating on the Alfred Street patio or in the quieter courtyard on the other side of the shop. The shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
When asked about the inspiration for Alfred Tea Room, Zad points to places like San Francisco’s Samovar and Third Street’s now-closed Chado Tea Room. It wasn't the aesthetics of these shops he was going for but rather the idea that a tea shop can stand on its own.
“Tea doesn’t get a fair shake,” Zad says, “and I think the time is ripe to open a shop dedicated specifically to it.”
Alfred Tea Room, 705 N. Alfred St., West Hollywood; alfredcoffee.com.