The Japanese Tea Garden menu has changed again; this time it has shrunk quite a bit from the bountiful menu previously available. No more sushi (except on weekends)! And no more tea and crackers/cookies combos that have been a staple for decades: strictly a la carte for that now, and much pricier, too.
Relaxing at the Tea House
I've listed some specific menu items, along with the prices, to give you an idea of what's available and how much it costs. Naturally, this is subject to change.
The Japanese Tea Sandwiches (which seem more like English tea sandwiches) are an assortment of turkey/cucumber, cheese/apple and tuna salad sandwiches, with the crusts cut off. I don't recommend it.
Japanese Tea Sandwiches, $9.50
Kuzomochi, sweet rice cakes, an interesting sticky, gummy texture in different flavors (strawberry, mango, green tea, and lychee). May be an acquired taste.
Green Tea Cheesecake, quite tasty, less sweet than the usual cheesecake. $6.95
Arare is a dish of rice crackers, dried peas, peanuts, plus fortune cookies. $4.25 (small), $6.95 (large).
Miso Soup, $4.25.
Edamame, $4.25. Soy beans in pods.
Dorayaki, $3.50. Japanese pancakes filled with red bean paste.
There is a new dish available on weekends: a combination plate with Inari (rice inside fried tofu) and Futomaki (sushi rolls) for $12.
Also added: Udon (noodle soup) for $9.50, Mini Nut Tarts (3) for $6.95 (looks good), and Petite Four, 3 pretty frosted cake bites for $6.95.
Japanese Teas. Choice of Sencha (green tea) $5.25, the rest, $3.95: Genmaicha (roasted green tea), Hojicha (another roasted green tea), jasmine tea, or iced green tea. Special tea ceremony Matcha, (powdered green tea) $8.95.
Also hot chocolate, coffee, Coke, Diet Coke, 7-Up, and bottled water.
The tea and goodies combo used to be $4.50. Now it's a minimum $3.95 for tea and $4.25 for the cracker plate, $8.20 total, and $10.20 for tea and cookies.
The Japanese Tea Garden menu also includes an interesting soft drink popular in Japan, but mostly unknown in the U.S.
Ramune: a carbonated, sweet drink in original, melon (yum!), strawberry and orange flavors.
The Ramune comes in an nifty glass bottle with a trick to opening it. There's a little glass marble at the top, which has to be pushed into the bottle. The marble sits in a little pocket in the bottle while you drink it (it can't escape). Kids would get a kick out of this odd arrangement.
Alas, the green tea latte is no more. Here's hoping they bring back that tasty item! They appeared at the tea garden long before Starbucks had them;-)
The Japanese Tea Garden menu items are available all day, during the hours the garden is open. They stop serving people 15 minutes before closing time.
I hate to say this, because I love the tea garden, but you can get much better Japanese food elsewhere (see below for a suggestion).
Nevertheless, the tea house is a great place to bask in serenity, and watch the birds and fish while sipping your hot tea; the atmosphere is so wonderful and the setting is unique. You can't go wrong with some tea, and rice crackers or cookies to go with it.\
Information about the Japanese Tea Garden. What to see in the Tea Garden, hours, maps, photos, how to get there.
Looking for a good sushi restaurant nearby?
You See Sushi is a (relatively) cheap and tasty sushi place near UCSF (and walking distance from the Tea Garden).
Ready for a quick trip to Japan?
Shop for kimonos, manga and housewares, and stop for some ramen or teriyaki in San Francisco's Japantown.
COVID-19 Status: at midnight on Monday, March 16, San Francisco was placed under a "shelter-in-place order.
All residents were ordered to stay home, except for necessary trips to grocery stores and essential medical visits, and solo outdoor activities like hiking.
The city had been gradually reopening of many businesses and activities, but in December, came under a strict, stay-at-home directive, due to a sudden increase in infection and hospitalization rates.
Since then, Covid numbers have dropped significantly.
Big changes coming June 15 (assuming the Covid numbers stay down). California is scheduled to fully reopen, meaning all business sectors will reopen to full or almost full capacity, including concerts, stadium sports and festivals.
Most recently, May 6, 2021, SF has moved to a less restrictive status.
Public transportation options have been cut back. See SF transit for more info.
Cable cars are expected to resume running in the fall; the Powell-Hyde line will be first.
See COVID rules for current SF status.
Mask rules: everyone in SF is required to wear a mask when they are outside and within 30 feet of other people.
Now fully vaccinated people may go without masks outdoors, but must wear masks in indoors settings.
Masks must be worn in stores and places of business and people not within the same household must stay 6 feet apart.
June 15 mask changes: fully vaccinated people can go without masks indoors as well, with some exceptions like hospitals, schools, nursing homes and on public transit.
SF Curfew has been ended.
What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, and Twin Peaks (car access on Portola, main parking lot open) are all open.
Parking lots for SF beaches, Twin Peaks, and the Golden Gate Bridge are open. But the Welcome Center lot and Merchant Road lot at the bridge are closed.
Restaurants can now be open to 50% capacity for indoor and outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery.
Bars that serve food can serve customers indoors.
Businesses can allow customers inside, on a limited basis (grocery stores 50%).The SF Zoo is open again.
Alcatraz is open. Day Tour tickets only. See Alcatraz.
Hair salons, and open air tour buses and boat cruises can now operate.
Indoor museums are open, including the CA Academy of Sciences.
Travel to SF: non-essential travel to SF is discouraged but the quarantine requirements are no longer in effect.
Hotels are accepting reservations, up to 25% capacity, but travelers are urged to limit contact with others in the hotel.
Exploratorium: opening July 1.
Indoor swimming pools are open to 50% capacity.
Schools: many private schools are open. SF public schools started in-person learning for elementary students April 12. Older grades: negotiations are ongoing. Hopefully will open for fall classes.
Limited opening: indoor gyms and indoor movie theaters to 50% capacity.
Indoor concerts, live theater, and sporting events, may open 50% capacity. Proof of vaccination or negative Covid test will be required. See more info on indoor events.
Some venues are waiting until June 15 because capacity limits don't work for those businesses.
Napa and Sonoma county wineries are open.
For a handy list of what's open or closed in SF, plus info on what's open in other cities and counties of California, see California reopening schedules.
See coronavirus news in the SF Chronicle for details and updates.
See SF closures timeline.
Most recent Bay Area stay home order.
Also see site and parking lot closures for the National Park Service (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, etc.)
Plus helpful info on which parks and hiking trails are open in the Bay Area.
Get the latest tips on visiting San Francisco.