American Tea Room’s New Retail Concept

Independent tea retailers continue to innovate with American Tea Room demonstrating that you don’t have to be a chain to finance one of the most compelling tea rooms in California.

x9q9YviWfWnEnyblDd5nT84MbJJT8AUitvKw8_ZCB5AFounder David Barenholtz is changing the way Americans think about tea by focusing on the experience. His row of high tech BKON brewers at the bar, an interactive “Tea Zone” live feed from the company’s website and the opportunity to grab and smell his teas make the newly opened shop a place of discovery.

Check out this video for a look (that’s Tony Gebely in the video. He manages the display).

The store is at 909 S. Santa Fe Ave., in the southern quadrant of the Arts District in Los Angeles. It joins his inaugural location in Beverly Hills with a third to follow in November at Fashion Island, Newport Beach. Meanwhile the Beverly Hill store at 401 North Canon Drive, near Rodeo Drive is closed for extensive remodeling. The Zagat-rated shop first opened in 2003.

“We have been overwhelmed with the positive support we have received from the press and from our neighbors and clients,” said Barenholtz. “This looks to be an extremely promising concept and the ideal location for the first iteration of our newly branded tea experience,” he said.

Right now the shop offers food and pastries made from tea along with chocolates from Valerie Gordon of Valerie Confections. Plans call for a full food menu and bar program with tea cocktails, beer and wine during the next few months. Selections will include Jasmine-poached shrimp, Lapsang Souchong-braised short ribs on Texas toast and Ceylon panna cotta. Barenholtz calls it an “ultra-hip warehouse lounge.”

jWZ8judz391X49VhZzVrzhgghlisNOgtmd3Tke3RS2MThere is lots of floor space in the deconstructed style with a patio out front, green walls, hanging ferns and comfy grey couches. The Tea Zone is located upstairs along with rows of large test tubes filled with tea. Patrons can query the touch screen about the tea while experiencing the smell and texture in hand.

The rear of the shop houses a kitchen and temperature-controlled reservoirs of teas located behind color-coded doors. There is a cupping lab, office and storage and fulfillment for the company’s extensive online business.

The shop has a large wall display of tea and teaware from around the world.

American Tea Room also serves espresso but from the back of the kitchen where the smell of brewing coffee will not interfere with the fragrance of steeping tea.

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