We've discussed before how deeply I love tea. We also know I have an affinity for my neighborhood, Los Angeles' Fairfax district. So, imagine my delight driving down Fairfax Avenue the other night, just blocks from home, in seeing a new tea shop: t on Fairfax. Hello, they even named it after me! So thoughtful!
So, I strolled over on Saturday morning and checked it out. I'm a fan. Sparse decor, clean and industrial, but with little ornate accents -- subtle asymmetric frills painted onto the chairs, pretty filigree sconces on one wall. A non-threatening mix of familiar alt-rock like Weezer and Radiohead came through the speakers. A couple people on laptops capitalized on the free wireless internet. They are apparently open late -- until 11 on Sundays, midnight on weeknights, 1 am on weekends -- and even offer live dj's on weekend nights. They've also got a very reasonably priced afternoon tea on the menu -- this local spot is offering to cover a lot of bases.
Whoever's behind this place knows a few things about tea, and displays of tea expertise abound. They have something like 100 varieties, available in 3 sizes of cup, 2 sizes of teapot. I ordered a small pot of Darjeeling, my favorite, after the guy behind the counter (the tea-ista?) helped me navigate the 3 different Darjeelings they offer. Someone else ordered jasmine pearl tea, and they explained to him that they only serve it in a 'display pot', a large clear glass pot that allows you to see the little 'pearls' unravel as it steeps. (If it were up to me, the teacups would be glass as well, instead of the pale green or black ceramic cups and mugs they offer, but I guess these guys are riffing off the British tea tradition.) And, when I went to refill my hot water, the tea-ista asked me what kind of tea I had been drinking. Why? Because they keep hot water at 3 different temperatures -- cooler for the delicate greens and whites, hotter for black teas. Talk about attention to detail.
The all-vegetarian menu is cute. The bulk of it is sandwiches based on afternoon tea offerings -- cucumber and cream cheese, or egg salad and watercress -- supplemented with salads and desserts. I had a blueberry scone, which was delicious.
So, the bottom line -- it's definitely a teahouse, not a coffeehouse. Although they offer wi-fi, there are no couches here. No one will scold you for failing to stick your pinkie out as you sip, but you might feel inclined to sit up straight and mind your p's and q's while you write your breakthrough screenplay in this place.
t on Fairfax is at 435 North Fairfax, between Oakwood and Rosewood.