Rise & Steep: Meet Your Neighborhood Tea People and Their Newest ‘Tea Bar’ on Octavia Street

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Creating the perfectly smooth cup of tea is no laughing matter and for San Francisco’s Tea People — a perfect cup of herbal is a passage into someone’s personality. You need to see what they are coming up with, can anyone say cocktails? We can.

Welcome to the third wave of tea lovers and quite frankly, scientists. Tea people, the sister brand of Boba Guys, is steeping through the Bay Area’s hottest tea trends and finding innovative ways to present the herbal infusions to the already booming tea scene in San Francisco.

Marnie Cozzens, one of the self-proclaimed “tea geeks” gave us the low down on how Tea is changing the Bay Area, “We all have friends that are the same way with coffee. Especially in San Francisco, there’s this whole third wave coffee movement happening. Cool stuff is happening with coffee, both from an ingredient aspect, art and craft, and then the culture around it. When you think about it, there’s not really an equivalent tea culture, there’s no tea x lifestyle movement. Back when we were starting up, our really small team (I think we’re about seven now) kept putting out the question, how do we make tea sexy?”

And very true, we are our mothers and grandmothers, grabbing a generic tea bag from the cupboard, boiling hot water on the stove, and clearly pouring in a steaming hot glass to consume within 5 minutes. In 2016 and especially in San Francisco, the art of tea has reached this pinnacle of “culinary experience,”

“We don’t want to be the next coffee, we just want to make tea approachable like coffee is and show you that every day people are drinking next-level quality tea”

Marnie explained to us.

Enter in Tea People’s new location in Hayes Valley. Now debuting a flurry of new products for the avid boba lover (me) to try — these tea geeks are not messing around. “Right now at the Tea Bar which is the bar inside the Boba Guys Hayes Valley location is serving up two things: Brew by the Pot and Tea Flights. So there’s more of a traditional individual tea experience, where you can order a pot and endless hot water of any of our teas that we sell. But then there are our tea flights which are more exciting. They’re based off of the Beer sampling model.” Like something of a Napa experience, customers and connoisseurs alike get to try the flavors of Asia with their extensive collection of leaves. “We have three shots in a flight, which turn out to be more of a tea experience or journey than just three sips. Our resident tea geek on staff will walk you through the three teas, from mouth feel to pairing notes and history. It’s such a cool experience.”

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Not only connecting the customer to the uncharted tea-realm, you’ll be able to meet the resident tea geeks from there your questions in full can be answered from equipment to flavors. “We partnered with Jade Chocolates (4207 Geary Blvd, San Francisco) who make really out of this world tea and spice infused chocolates. So, the menu consists of six different flights, all of our loose leafs (plus some more herbals coming), and then we’ll always be having a tea of the month happening too. Not to mention, we always have something up our sleeve like cocktails and nitro tea.”

The sampling experience done right. Currently on the tea flight roster, you’ll be able to try flavors such as Dragonwell and more. Our currently favorite has been the Chinese Dong-Ding, a brew that will clear the airways. Don’t worry, it’s pretty freaking potent.

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Bringing together the flavorings of tea and a boozy cocktail, the experimental idea of the Matcha Mule made it’s way into the Tea People repertoire. “The Matcha Mule was something I came up while perusing Instagram late one night actually. Matcha has been really on trend lately and has showed up everywhere.  I spend a lot of time mixing things; making weird drinks, throwing recipes togethers – food, herbology, cocktails, even as a kid I would mix all my mom’s fancy shampoos instead of actually taking a bath.” Served in a hardy mason jar, the SF element really shines through with the sake and matcha dancing together in a buzz-inducing flavor.

I wanted to make a version that highlighted each ingredient and really showcased the tea. It’s really the perfectly balanced drink and you end up seeing that by the layering“ Marnie tells us.

#steepresponsibly

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Meet our go-to people (from left to right): Marnie, Benji, and Kalen. Though there are more tea lovers, these are our foundations of knowledge when it comes to that steep life. The whole team is always around and loves to answer all sorts of tea questions.

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// You’ve got to experience the tea love firsthand at Tea People’s Tea Bar at 8 Octavia St. Try out either their Tea Flights, a sampling of the Matcha Mule, or/and a swig of their newest nitro tea. All delicious might we add?


Written and photographed by Anthony Rogers, modeled and styled by the Tea People — Get more deliciousness in your inbox weekly. Did you read our Bay Bites 2016 guide, get hungry Bay Area.

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