On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was introduced to a wonderful tea room – DarTEAling Lounge. It’s a lovely little out-of-the-way place in the SoMa area of San Francisco, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there.

When you walk in and are pleasantly greeted, the feeling is of walking into a friend’s home – comfortable, old / antique furniture, lots of tea accoutrements, and soothing pastel colors. There are both tables and seating areas with easy chairs and sofas, all encouraging you to sit down and relax. I felt instantly at home, and couldn’t wait to get settled and peruse the menu.

First, the teas: they have a good selection of black, green, white, and oolong teas, along with a wide selection of rooibos and other herbal infusions. I must confess I am not a big rooibos drinker, but when we were getting our mani-pedis at the nail salon next door (owned by the same people), they brought us a lovely cup of tea, which turned out to be their “Memories of Provence” rooibos blend. The description on the menu says “Floral and fruity perfumed with lavender notes … Provence in a cup!” but I also thought I tasted some notes of vanilla. In short, it was surprising and delicious, and made me rethink my opinion of rooibos!

Once I was seated with my friends, we chose our teas for our tea brunch. I chose “Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” a deep, rich vanilla-scented black tea. My friends drank their favorite, “Parisian Earl Grey.” Another confession: Earl Grey tea is not one of my favorites either (I’m really picky). However, I tasted this one, and immediately decided to take some home! It’s a classic Earl Grey, with a hint of vanilla, and the combination is fabulous. The vanilla makes the tea smoother, but also seems to highlight the citrusy bergamot flavor of the Earl Grey. One sip, and I could imagine myself back in one of the classic tea rooms in Paris. I highly recommend it!

The food menu at DarTEAling is just as intriguing. They have a wide selection of tea sandwiches, served as part of a tea service or on their own, as well as a choice of tartines and other savory dishes, salads, and a gorgeous assortment of sweets. The tea sandwiches blew me away – the unique choices included fish and chips, bacon and egg, and PB&J! They also had a host of more usual selections, including salmon and capers, brie and chutney, curried chicken salad, and cucumber sandwiches. We chose an assortment of the known and unknown, and I must say my favorite was the fish and chips, although the cucumber ran a close second. The fish and chips had a satisfying crunchiness to the batter the fish was fried in, and a bit of tanginess from the sauce. The cucumber sandwiches were just heaven – crisp cucumbers, fresh herbs, and a touch of butter (I think) on the bread. My friends loved both the bacon and eggs and the green olive-havarti cheese sandwiches, but I didn’t make it around to try those!

By the time we got to the sweets, I had already eaten too much, and just had a taste of a miniature coffee cheesecake and a chocolate petit-four. The sweets portion of the meal also included mini-scones with clotted cream and jam, as in any proper tea service. It was a beautiful ending to a wonderful meal – just the right touch of sweet to balance the savory sandwiches.

In case it’s not obvious by now, I had a fabulous time at DarTEAling, and would recommend it to anyone visiting San Francisco and looking for a great tea lounge. It has a soothing, relaxing atmosphere, great tea and food, and laid back but attentive service as well. They were happy to let us take the time to enjoy our meal and our time together, and made us feel cared for and welcome. I can’t wait to go back again!