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Best Teahouse: We'll take the White Dragon Pearls 

Celadon Fine Teas

This elegant new tea shop in Albany, the public face of tea importer Teance Fine Teas, has placed the East Bay at the forefront of a growing enthusiasm for a drink considered for centuries throughout Asia as a gateway to simplicity, tranquillity, and harmony -- in short, to a life worth living. Step up to the simple round tea bar for a tasting of White Dragon Pearls or Luu Shan Clouds and Mist prepared gaiwan-style in a small cup set in a saucer and covered with a lid. The server will quickly rinse the tea leaves, offer you the gaiwan to inhale the first powerful aroma of the awakened leaves, and then prepare the infusion, pouring you tiny cups in a succession of tastings. Or linger with friends over a cup of Royal Courtesan oolong at one of the many inviting tables in the airy, light-filled space. The servers are friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable about the dozens of green, oolong, red, black, and white teas the shop carries. In the best traditions of California modern, Celadon has pared away all connotations of the "Orientalism" that sometimes mars such cross-cultural experiences and keeps the focus on fine teas, prepared with scrupulous care and a gentle spirit.

Readers' Pick:
L'Amyx Tea Bar
4179 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, 510-594-8322
LAmyx.com

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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