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Best Tea House 

Imperial Tea Court

This is not your raised-pinky, doily-laden, English high-tea shop. This is a traditional China tea room, and the tea is plentiful and strong, the food savory, and the prices reasonable. Your first impression is red — old, claret-colored lacquer tables, chairs, and cabinets. The tea is prepared the traditional way — first, the vessels are warmed, then the tea is rinsed with hot water (to open the leaves), then steeped in small ceramic teapots. As the friendly server goes through the ritual, you learn how the steps bring out the tea's full flavor. And what teas! Black teas, green teas, white teas, organic teas, and herbal teas (tisanes). But nothing beats the Court's extensive selection of aged Puerh teas — dark, deep, earthy black teas that will bring you back again and again. So will the food. A dozen dim sum offerings, handmade pot stickers, Beijing-style beef stew, hand-pulled noodles, and an addictive crunchy chocolate wonton. (Think chocolate wrapped in a delicate dough and deep-fried.) And it's affordable: A party of three, with tea, pot stickers, onion cakes, dessert, and a traditional (gongfu) presentation, runs about $40.

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