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Best Tea Bar: Calming leafy infusions 


On a street where scented-candle commercialism can exhaust even joyful shoppers, Teance offers up a heady dose of real. Last fall, the five-year-old tea shop packed up its hemp strainers and made the move from Solano Avenue to East Bay luxury-shopping nirvana on Fourth Street. Designed by local architect Fu-Tung Cheng (he's also a partner), the new space serves up plenty of refreshing, Zen-laced minimalism. The sinuous cast-concrete tea bar evokes the glittery detritus of an ancient riverbed, complete with pottery shards and vaguely fossily things. The tea is even more evocative. For five bucks you can taste one of the 65 on offer, all cultivated using traditional techniques — Monkey-Picked Tikuanyin, for instance, gets its deliciously smoky burr from smoldering bamboo. If you've got an hour on the parking meter, go for a flight. The Teance Choice Flight (four infusions for $15) is our fave, not least because it includes Lu Shan Clouds and Mist, green tea leaves as delicate as rosemary needles. The resulting brew is amazing: viscous, with a mineral-y, cooked-spinach taste and the aroma of wildflower honey. Just the thing to get you through Z Gallerie.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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