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Cup of Calm


Photograph by Anne Pogyor

Numi Tea in Reem’s Oakland apartment in 1999, are piping hot these days. Their full-leaf teas and flowering teas that “blossom” in the pot have been a hit with customers across the country, and last fall the pair opened the Numi Tea Garden. The new teahouse is located at the company’s headquarters not far from the Oakland airport but offers a serene break from city life. It’s not actually outdoors, but the wide-open space is lit with skylights, and the room has the feel of a shaded grotto. World music plays almost loudly enough to drown out the occasional passing truck, and a pair of caged birds sometimes peeps up from the room’s center.

The extensive tea menu features a wide variety of black, green, and white teas. Choices are labeled fair trade or organic, and include basics as well as Japanese matcha, cleansing spa teas, and soothing herbal mixes known at Numi as “teasans” (a play on the French word tisane). Tea service involves two pots that sit next to a little clay Buddha on a slatted bamboo tray. Servers pour hot water from one pot over the tea leaves in the other and dribble leftover water over the Buddha for good luck. A tea timer indicates when to strain the brew back into the original pot, and then it’s time to sip from a delicate ceramic cup.

Snacks are available to pair with the tea. Offerings range from nibbles such as green tea–dusted pumpkin seeds and artisan cheeses, to scones and muffins from Feel Good Bakery in Alameda, to quiche.

The Numi Tea Garden is located at 2230 Livingston St. (exit Interstate 880 at Embarcadero), Oakland, (877) 686-4832, www.numitea.com.

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