San Francisco, CA
Garden: Daily 8:30-6:30
Gift shop/tea house: Daily 10:30-4:30
Entry free: $4 pp
Tea: less than $10 for two.
Golden Gate park is HUGE. You can tell when you look at those terribly off-scale tourist maps and find that a significant part of it is "Golden Gate Park"....then you realize it's really that big and the map is totally to scale.
I knew I wanted to see the Japanese Tea Garden, imagining it would be like going to a real tea garden, in Japan. I'd like to think those aren't so very touristy.
However, it was beautiful....
with the cherry blossoms and...
lush foliage and vibrant colours but...
...it was crowded. The pathways exploded with noisy children running around freely and the tea house was crammed with people (luckily we got a corner seat overlooking the pond) .
The kimono-clad waitress who served us wore a digital watch on her wrist and walked with the gait of someone who had to catch a bus at 5, instead of the graceful tiny steps my imagination willed. Instead, she brushed me off and hurried away when I asked to take a photograph of her. Okay, so I am a tourist. Possibly the worst kind...grasping my hefty Nikon and clicking noisily at my surroundings while we waited for our tea.
The Oolong (one of the only three on the menu along with Green and Jasmine) was plain but a welcoming thirst-quencher. The 'snacks' were a combination of salty and sweet, some fishy tasting, others eggy and sweet.
Overall, the Tea Garden was not what I imagined it to be, but in retrospect, we were still able to catch a quiet moment in the sun where I put away my camera for a while.