AU79 Kumquat Green Tea (Drink of the Week)

Tea Los Angeles

In the San Gabriel Valley, teahouses are about more than just tea. Some of the most stylish spots serve as community hubs, primarily for people who can’t (legally) drink alcohol yet. On weekends, Asian-American teenagers linger well past midnight. One of the best places to go in the western SGV is AU79 Tea Spirit in San Gabriel, which is rooted in deep tea traditions.

Rei Chen Lee, son of Ten Ren Tea Company founder Su-Mu Lee, opened the first AU Teahouse in 1988 in Arcadia. Daughter Megan Lee took over that original location and added AU79 Tea Spirit in San Gabriel and AU79 Tea Express by Pasadena City College. The San Gabriel space, which resides in a strip mall, features a fashionable sun logo, open kitchen, photos of tea on wall panels, and packed sidewalk tables out front.

I appreciate that AU79 offers a sliding scale of sweetness, since some teahouses have been known to punish palates with syrups and powders. Yes, that’s possible here, if you crank the sweetness to 5, but I prefer to limit my intake to 0 or 1. Au79 offers an array of teas, with or without milk. By choosing Kumquat Green Tea ($3), I got a hit of tartness and managed to limit sweetness, though there are several dozen options. AU79 also offers unusual pink boba, which are softer than regular boba and eerily reminiscent of albino rabbit eyes.

Address: 1635 S San Gabriel Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776

AU79 Kumquat Green Tea (Drink of the Week)

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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