Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tea Station

Tea Station
7315 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-8198
http://www.teastation.us/index.asp?version=1&root=112

This is a fairly large chain with several locations in San Diego.  The one I go to is on Clairemont Mesa.  This place is like a fancier version of the other tapioca tea places.  The menu is huge, with more drink options that you can imagine and extensive list of snacks/meals.  I don't usually frequent this place for several reasons: prices are expensive, food and drinks are just okay tasting, and the place tends to be crowded.  However, I think it is a perfect spot to meet up with friends because it does offer such a large variety of drinks and snacks.

Unlike the other tea places, you won't find people just hanging out and studying here like at a coffee shop.  Tea station is more like a restaurant, where if you sit down, you have to order (your table charge has to average at least $4 per person).  You can get stuff to go, and they seem to encourage it, with a reduced take-out menu prices for drinks.  However, if you to dine in, you get to get your drinks in some pretty cool looking cups.

I can definitely understand the appeal of this place.  It's similar to the tea places I went to in Taiwan.  The staff here speaks mainly Mandarin, though of course they can speak English too.  The dishes offered are Taiwanese style dishes for the most part.  And they offer a huge variety of drinks that you won't find anywhere else.  Now if only everything tasted better than just okay and perhaps if they lowered their prices…. They charge a lot more than the other tea places, and their drinks and food taste just okay. Also, the service is not very good.  It's supposed to be a dine-in type of place but it's almost impossible to get a waiter's attention after you order your food.

I took my friends that were visiting this past weekend after eating at Seafood Island.  We ordered a variety of drinks and food, trying things we can't normally get at the other tea places (I don't like paying $1 more for an item that is also on the menu at another tea place across the street, especially if it doesn't even taste as good as the cheaper one.)

Here is the dine-in menu:

Now onto the drinks! This place has a lot of variety of tea drinks and also offers some expensive, higher quality teas.  They also offer some jellies that aren't offered at other tea places.

My sister stuck to the plain tapioca milk tea.  It came in a interesting pitcher type glass.

One of the people in our group ordered this milky green tea drink.  I liked the use of the whipped cream on top and the twisty straw.

We also ordered a hot almond milk tea.  I love how their hot teas come in the little teapots.  It looks so cute! I was a bit surprised by the almond milk tea though.  I thought it would be white, and more like the hot almond milk I had in Taiwan.  There is a faint taste of almond milk, but it was not as strong as I would have liked.

For the hot drinks, they have an option of the teapot or an urn.  The price difference is almost 2 dollars.  For the longest time, we were trying to figure out the size of this urn and which one to order.  My advice is not to order the urn! It's basically a bowl, not as cute as the teapot, and there is no way that the urn is big enough to warranty the extra charge.  The bowl is a regular, single serving size bowl.  It does not even seem to hold any more liquid than the teapot.  Plus, I don't like the idea of drinking my tea with a spoon…Here is the hot taro milk, in teapot and in urn. I love ordering the hot taro milk because I think the purple looks so beautiful in the teacup.  But maybe that is because I love this shade of purple.  (Normally I don't like ordering taro milk because the tea places use a powder that is super sweet and not as good as real taro milk tea, which I have only been able to find at Fantasia, a chain of tea places located in the Bay Area only. But, I always end up ordering it at Tea Station because I like how pretty it looks!)

One of my friends ordered what I thought was the most interesting drink of the night: hot grass jelly.  When it came out, it came in an urn and was basically a soup, with some red beans, peanuts and other beans at the bottom.  So it seemed like a bean soup.  But as the drink cooled off, the liquid turned into clumps of grass jelly!  I thought that was pretty cool.  I've never ordered a hot grass jelly drink, and didn't know this is what would happen.

Here is the drink when it first arrived:

Here it is after it started to cool down.  I know it doesn't look that appetizing, but if you like grass jelly, it's pretty yummy!

Now the food.  Like I mentioned before, this place offers a lot of snacks, meals such as noodle soups, and dessert items liked shaved ice and red bean soup. Here is what we had:

First up, squid balls.  My brother saw this one the menu and asked if I had tried the ones here before. He said he loved fried squid balls.  I said I hadn't tried the ones here before, but that they should be good.  After all, all the tea places seem to make them the same way.  Boy, was I wrong.  These were the worst squid balls I had ever tasted, and I could only eat one.  They had an extremely fishy taste to them, but in a bad way.  I'm not sure what kind of squid balls they were using, but I would not order this again.

We saw that a new item on the menu was flavored fries.  There are three flavors to choose from: curry, green onion and mango.  The picture on the menu caught our eye because the fries had green spots in the picture.  We decided we had to try this one out, and got it with m
ango sauce.  How deceiving the picture was.  And the name of the dish too!  We were expecting fries with a mango flavor, perhaps in the batter or in the seasoning?  Instead, we got a dish of regular fries (and the fries are not very crispy or good tasting) with a tiny plate of dipping sauce.  The dipping sauce was mango flavored.  And they charged us $5 for this!  Granted, the dipping sauce tasted pretty good (like mango ketchup?), but this dish was a huge disappointment. 

Here is how they appeared in the menu, top right corner.

Finally, we ordered the brick toast, which is a giant slice of toast, that is slightly sweeter than regular toast.  I've heard great things about their sweet butter toast.  While browsing the menu, I saw that there is also a flavored toast option.  It costs $1 less and has a sweet milk option, which is what I believe is used in the sweet butter toast.  We weren't sure what the difference was, so we decided to order them both.  While I think $4 is a lot to pay for a slice of toast, I love how thick the slices are! It's practically a cake, these slices are so thick.  And the bread inside is warm and sweet.  Delicious!

Here is the Sweet Butter Toast ($4.50)

Here is the sweet milk flavored butter toast ($3.50)

Verdict?  Sweet Butter Toast!  While it costs a little more, it also tastes better.  As you can see, the sweet butter toast has an extra layer on top.  It''s been grilled or toasted, making a crunchy, hard surface.  Almost like the topping you will find on chinese pineapple buns, but not quite as sweet.  The flavored toast doesn't have this extra hard coating and instead is slightly soggy on top due to the sweet milk being poured on. I think the sweet butter toast is good enough that I may break my rule about not coming here unless I have guests.

Tea Station on Urbanspoon

 

4 Responses to “Tea Station”

  1. 1

    Dennis — June 8, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

    Hi Kirbie, I randomly found myself here for lunch the other day and had no clue what to order. Any personal favorite meals? I almost tried the pork knuckles.. Thanks!

  2. 2

    Kirbie — June 9, 2009 @ 10:15 am

    Hi Dennis, the food here is pretty average so there isn’t a dish I particularly love. But usually I get the chicken curry rice plate or the House noodle soup with deli plate because it comes with some stewed egg, stewed beancurd and some other yummy things. I haven’t tried the pork knuckles. I would recommend the sweet butter brick toast for dessert though!

  3. 3

    royaljester — August 31, 2009 @ 3:04 am

    Royaljester from chowhound here. I only drink tapioca milk tea, and among the places I’ve tried Tea Station makes it the best in the area. This is like my Starbucks, I always order to go. Green Tea Station used to years ago before the ownership change. Didi’s used to years ago before they closed/changed. For comparison, I can list a dozen places that make average or horrible tapioca milk tea but I’m sure you know. Will check out Fantasia in the future!

  4. 4

    Kirbie — August 31, 2009 @ 2:05 pm

    I used to like Green Tea House as well until it changed. Never had a chance to try Didi’s. I definitely recommend Fantasia!

Leave a Comment

*

Please leave these two fields as-is:

Protected by Invisible Defender. Showed 403 to 1,227,225 bad guys.