Tony, wife Caroline, and sister-in-law Jasmine have run Tocaja, a “simply happy” tea parlor in Claremont Village, since 2015. The owners are originally from Taiwan, a nation with a strong tea culture. While it was tempting to order a Devil’s Kiss, I opted for iced Jasmine Green Tea ($3.75) topped with twin dollops of “sea salt cream” and enjoyed my drink on a relaxing back patio featuring a fountain and a mural of the great outdoors.
Sea salt cream, or equivalents by different names, are proliferating at Southern California tea shops. Tocaja’s take on the tea-topper features a frothy blend of whole milk, hand-whipped cream, and sea salt, finished with a dusting of matcha powder. Possible iced teas include a choice of black, jasmine, oolong, white – sweetened or unsweetened – topped with two dollops of cream. The contrast of sweet iced tea and savory cream is simultaneously refreshing and satisfying.