DAVIDsTEA opened its first San Francisco shop on August 25. The Canadian tea-tailer launched in 2008 and now has 78 locations across Canada, where it has helped to popularize the idea of loose tea, and it's now making serious inroads in the Bay Area. Eater SF reports that a Noe Valley (3870 24th St.) shop opens on September 22 followed by a Burlingame (1400 Burlingame Ave.) outpost on September 29.
Wander inside the Polk Street shop and the clean look reminds of a cosmetic counter. A wall is divided among white, green, black, pu'erh, maté, rooibos, and herbal, and you'll immediately be encouraged to start looking at and smelling canisters of loose tea.
The teas are visually stunning, with inclusions like dried fruit, flowers, nuts, and even a few items not typically seen in a sachet. In fact, some tea purists may be shocked or even offended by some of the original creations, like Glitter and Gold, a black tea with gold pearls that dissolve into glitter in the glass, but for others, it'll be a fun place to discover new flavors. While browsing, we were offered a sample of a warm herbal crème caramel tea that had a nice balance and wasn't too sweet despite being fashioned around a super-sweet dessert.
Tea is sold by weight (typically around $3-4 an ounce), with no minimum size. Cups of hot or iced tea ($3) and pots of tea ($5) are also available for on-the-spot drinking; there are currently about eight comfy seats between the front and back of the store, with a communal table on the way. There's also free WiFi.
DAVIDsTEA 2123 Polk (at Broadway), 567-8373