The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh
The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.
In the last few years, Pittsburgh has seen an impressive number of independent coffee stores open. More quietly, the city’s tea scene has been growing in tandem, as newcomers join old standbys. Pittsburgh has a wide variety of tea shops for a midsize city — options run the gamut, from small tea bar to large, multi-faceted tea house offering hundreds of varieties.
The perfect cup of tea means something different for everyone, but it always has a few dimensions. The tea itself should have a balance of nuanced flavor and aroma and be steeped at the proper temperature for the right length of time to make the most of high-quality leaves. Atmosphere also is key: A good tea shop is inviting and has spaces that are well suited to working alone or for casual meet-ups. Whether it serves coffee and tea or is a standalone tea shop, each spot on this list offers high-quality, loose-leaf tea in an atmosphere that fosters relaxation, conversation or focus.
Photos by brian trimboli
For some tea drinkers, the act of steeping, pouring and drinking is as important as the tea itself. Dobra Tea puts the emphasis on the ritual of drinking tea, pairing it with a charming tea room and a staggering selection of tea — if you want to try a variety of green tea beyond the typical Sencha, like Hojicha or Tamaryokucha, Dobra is the place to look. Dobra has the deepest selection of tea in Pittsburgh, including varieties and niche teas you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Dobra also serves a variety of snacks to accompany your tea, from mixed nuts to dolmas (stuffed grape leaves).
[1937 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/449-9833, dobrateapgh.com]
Located on the North Side’s East Ohio Street, Arnold’s Tea has a wide selection of tea and light fare (sandwiches, soups, salads, etc). Natural light floods the store through its plate-glass storefront, and the seating area is large enough to simultaneously accommodate both light conversation and quiet study, along with a comfortable couch and wall-recessed fireplace for those looking to truly relax. Arnold’s also has a moderate selection of tea paraphernalia, if you’re looking for a new electric kettle or teapot. Try a cup of ginseng green tea, or, if you’re in the mood for something sweeter, lavenade — lightly sweetened lavender tea, lemonade and basil.
[502 E. Ohio St., North Side; 412/322-2494, arnoldsteapittsburgh.com]
21st Street Coffee and Tea
Obsessive attention to detail is what sets 21st Street Coffee and Tea apart from its peers. At this coffee and tea shop, a barista will be steep your tea at the proper temperature for the proper length of time, saving you the imprecision of doing it yourself. You’ll also get the most out of your tea; the barista will steep your green and oolong tea for multiple infusions. 21st Street has a refined selection of Kilogram tea, sister brand to Intelligentsia Coffee, and a spartan seating area with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. The minimal space is still inviting, and 21st Street’s baristas are well trained to meet your tea drinking needs or answer any questions you may have. Try the emerald spring for something earthy or the jasmine peach for something more floral.
[2002 Smallman St., Strip District; 412/281-0809, 21streetcoffee.com]
Tazza D’Oro is a community fixture in Highland Park, where it sits around the corner from Bryant Street’s strip of shops and restaurants. The coffee and tea cafe lives up to its name, which, translated literally from Italian, means “cup of gold.” When Tazza D’Oro opened in 1999, the cafe focused on serving high-quality coffee and almost completely locally sourced food. More recently, Tazza has added a selection of Rishi loose leaf tea, allowing coffee and tea lovers to coexist in the welcoming space. In the warmer months, you can enjoy your tea in the sunlight on the store’s patio in the peaceful neighborhood.
[1125 N. Highland Ave., Highland Park; 412/362-3676, tazzadoro.net]
Bantha Tea Bar
Bantha Tea Bar is a relative newcomer to Pittsburgh’s tea scene; it opened in September 2015. The shop’s well-crafted tea bar itself is a standout feature; it fits in perfectly with curved, earthen walls and a mosaic tile floor. With names like “Who Isn’t Sick?” and “Gentle High Vitamin,” Bantha’s tea selection is as down-to-earth as the space itself. Part of Bantha’s charm comes from its Garfield location; as the weather gets warmer, try getting a cup of herbal tea to go and taking a walk through the peaceful nearby Allegheny Cemetery.
[5002 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/404-8359, banthateabar.com]
Walking into Biddle’s Escape actually feels like an escape — the lavender-colored store’s door is marked by a stained glass sign, and the shop’s interior is filled with an eclectic array of seating, natural wood and the occasional hanging vine. An enormous chalkboard lists the tea selection, which includes tea drinks like the Mate Latte, a latte made with Yerba mate tea. Biddle’s Escape is a good place to camp out with your laptop; the cafe’s isolated ambiance is a natural fit for focused work. Be sure to visit Biddle’s Escape when the weather improves — when the sun comes out, one wall rolls up to join the interior and the spacious patio.
[401 Biddle Ave., Regent Square; 412/999-9009, biddlesescape.com]