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.
Most recently, January 28, 2021, SF has moved to a somewhat less restrictive status.
Public transportation options have been cut way back. See SF transit for more info.
See COVID rules for current SF status.
Mask rules: everyone in SF is now required to wear a mask when they are outside and within 30 feet of other people.
Masks must be worn in stores and places of business and people not within the same household must stay 6 feet apart.
SF Curfew still in effect: 10 pm to 5 am.
What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, and Twin Peaks (by foot or bike) are all open.
Parking lots for SF beaches and the Golden Gate Bridge are open. But the Welcome Center lot and Merchant Road lot are closed.
Restaurants can now be open for outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery.
Businesses can allow customers inside, but on a limited, 20% capacity basis (grocery stores 50%).The SF Zoo is open again.
Alcatraz is closed. They are selling tickets for a few weeks out, but that's iffy. See Alcatraz.
Hair salons, and open air tour buses and boat cruises can now operate.
Indoor museums are closed. Outdoor museums can be open.
Hotels are now accepting reservations from tourists but they have to quarantine in the hotel for 10 days, and non-essential travel is discouraged. Essential workers and locals needing quarantine may also book hotel rooms.
Travel quarantine: Anyone traveling to SF from out of the Bay Area must quarantine for 10 days.
Exploratorium: possibly opening spring 2021.
Schools: many private schools have begun reopening; SF public schools are still on hold, except for a few charter schools.
On hold: indoor swimming pools and indoor movie theaters are still closed.
Last to open will be concerts, live theater, sporting events, nightclubs and festivals.
Napa and Sonoma county wineries can be open for outdoor wine tasting.
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.