While the tea and atmosphere is well worth the trip, the hand-pulled noodle soup is the number one thing not to miss.
Imperial Tea Court, located inside San Francisco's Ferry Building Marketplace, is a traditional Chinese-style tea house. They offer beautiful and unique teaware, teas from all over Asia, and amazing food.
The tea is served in a traditional Chinese Gaiwan. It is a lidded cup that sits on a saucer. The tea leaves are placed directly in the cup and water poured on top of them. The lid is placed on top, while the tea brews. To drink, the whole set is picked up while the lid is moved back just enough for the tea to flow but keep the leaves blocked.
It was my first time seeing and using this type of teaware. It is a little bit difficult and takes some practice but the tea has more flavor and aroma.
I chose the Genmai Cha Tea, which is green tea (my fav!) with roasted brown rice. It was also called the "people's tea" because it was drunk by poor Japanese people. The little brown specks are roasted brown rice, which pops during the roasting. It was used as a filler to make the tea more affordable. Today, everyone drinks it! This one is always my favorite because it has a mild and earthy taste and goes well with almost any food.
My mom and I visit San Francisco often because my brother attended school there. We always try to visit a new place came here to eat breakfast. We only got to spend limited time on this trip and we both really wanted to try this tea house. While it may be an unconventional breakfast, it was a perfect and unique way to start the day.
We chose the dumplings with a few different fillings each; chicken, pork and beef. The insides were so creamy and juicy. It was served with a light and savory dipping sauce. We devoured the whole plate. There was enough for two people to share as an appetizer or one meal by yourself.
But the true star of the Imperial Tea Court is the bowl of hand-pulled noodles.
The hand-pulled noodles are heaven in a bowl. They are thick and chewy and allow the flavors of the broth to soak through. There is a choice of meat; we ordered the spicy pork, which I highly recommend. There are also green onions and carrots in the soup and sesame chili oil. The soup is so rich, flavorful, and bold that you will not be able to stop eating it. I wish I can describe how good it is, but unless you taste it, there are no words. It is one of the best things I've eaten in San Francisco, hands down.
Dont miss Imperial Tea House. The atmosphere and service were outstanding and the food is perfection on a plate. You can get a variety of teas and gifts here too.
Imperial Tea House
In The San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111