You may have noticed the growing number of precious tea houses serving endless varieties of green, jasmine, and white teas -- and perhaps you've even exerted yourself to distinguish the lightly floral tones of White-Tip Oolong from the freshly vegetal flavor of Pearl Dew. Congratulations. But the time will come when, as the busy day wears on, you notice the famous "sinking feeling" of Queen Victoria, who recognized the signal that it was time for tea. Not vaguely scented yellowish water, but good old English tea. That's when you hope you can muster the energy to make it to B.J. Gardner's English Tea Room for a cuppa. If it's not the weekend, you probably won't need to worry about reservations. Gardner is a native of Bath, and though he's been a Pleasanton resident for twenty years or so, his Anglophilia is immediately evident, from the Union Jack out front to the lilt of his "come right in, luv." Though he's a multifaceted entrepreneur, tea takes full priority here: Vestiges of his former antiques business are relegated to display cases along the wall, and the British grocery shop he runs is in the back of the place (so after tea, you can pick up your own Yorkshire Tea blend or "diggy biscuits" to take home). But front and center are the tea tables, serving a selection of set menus, from the lighter Cream Tea with double Devon cream and scones to a hearty high tea with bangers and more. While Gardner has served his fair share of bridal and baby showers, he is quick to point out that tea is not only for the ladies: any gent would feel comfortable ordering the Windsor Savory Tea, which includes sausage rolls and a pork-pie slice.
Readers' Pick for best teahouse: L'Amyx