Le Palais des Thés

Best Tea Shop, October 2005

This is a category in which there’s little contest. Le Palais des Thés is a soigné French outfit, and owners Randy Arnold and David Barenholtz, who also run the Apex Fine Art photo gallery, spent two years negotiating for the rights to open its boutiques in North America. They’ve done their sovereign proud. The walls of the Beverly Hills flagship are lined with tins of teas from around the world, their labels color coded by region: red for Asia, brown for Africa, turquoise for Iran-Turkey-Georgia. You can buy your beloved a Mombasa tea basket, a green tea box set, a beautiful ceramic or metal pot, esoteric accessories, and magical loose brews like Bao Zhong Imperial, Nilgiri Thiashola, Dong Ding, or Sencha Supérieur. They’ve got tasting classes, too.