Today, I visited the American Tea Room in Beverly Hills for their Weekend High Tea ($50; reservations only). Unlike traditonal indulgent high teas, which I love, this was more like a class or a wine tasting where the room's passionate owner David, talked for an hour about the history, preparation and varieties of tea without even taking a breath. With discussions about tea fermentation, harvesting and oxidation, it's no wonder why I thought it was similar to a wine tasting.
Although I consider myself a tea snob, I enjoyed the class and learned a few fun tidbits and tried some really exceptional blends. No tea leaf was left unturned as we sipped five different teas (white, green, oolong, black and rooibos) with food pairings.
I learned that tea, discovered in 3500 BC is the 2nd most popular beverage in the world today. Also, that in Asia Cha or Chai means tea, which is why so many teas end in cha like Matcha Green Tea or Sencha and Chai teas, etc. I knew this already, but most of the other people there were enlightend to learn that Rooibos or Red Teas and Chamomile Teas aren't really teas, but florals or spices brewed like teas. No actual camellia Sinesis tea leaves are included.
So, if you'd like to learn more about teas and are in search of the right tea for you, this tasting is for you. Now, in it's seventh year, the shop also sells loose leaf teas and accessories.