Off the beaten path a few minutes southeast of Old Pasadena beckons Flour + Tea, a neighborhood sanctuary that serves unique, Asian inspired Euro American breads, cakes, and teas. The modern, industrial, naturally lit space boasts an oversized, imperfect wooden table that entices kids and adults alike to find a spot.
Here, everyday eats are brilliantly reinvented and tea at its best has the chance to shine in a coffee saturated world. The no-nonsense menu is an ongoing dialogue between co-owners and cousins Nancy Ou and Johnson Wang, the Flour + Tea team, the master baker, and customers. Familiar peanut butter and jelly finds a home in mochi bread and staples like apple pie are incorporated into accessible cakes that don’t require a special occasion. “The simplicity of everything allows you to buy a piece of cake just because you feel like it,” said Ou. “Flour + Tea strives to be your everyday.”
Tea, like water, has always been an everyday part of life for Ou and Wang. “We’ll sell what you want, but if you give us a chance, we want you to try tea in its natural, naked form,” said Ou. “It’s like humans, right? We actually look quite pretty without makeup. It’s a different type of beauty.”
The teas here, known to be stronger than those at other teahouses, are freshly brewed every day. The refreshing white peach black iced tea and smoky black sugar shaken milk tea, sweetened or unsweetened to your liking, with or without pearls (boba), hits the spot. A simplified selection of loose teas, including pu-erh (from the southeastern region of China) known for its cleansing, medicinal value, is available for sale. Loose tea prices range from $7.50 to $50 for a quarter pound, depending on the grade. Flour + Tea welcomes customers to place special orders as well.
In fact, if customers make a request, Flour + Tea strives to come up with solutions. The popular whole-wheat cranberry bread was created when customers asked for something healthy, but sweet. The light, sweet cream piped inside a generous piece of freshly baked bread stuffed with dried cranberries begs seconds. Dense, fragrant ginger chai tea cake, a previous monthly special, is still on the menu by customer demand.
Monthly specials inject a sense of new into the everyday. “Team members throw in ideas that usually end up being crazy and obnoxious, but delicious and wonderful,” said Ou. “Every month, we feel like we stumble upon something that becomes the best thing ever. Customers still ask for specials. We consider what’s not on the menu the secret menu.”
Ou’s top picks include: all beef hot dog bread, coffee walnut raisin bread with dark chocolate, almond shaken milk tea with chamomile base (“similar to the taste of after cereal milk,” said Ou), and Dulce Daisy cake (creamy, distinct layers of Peruvian dulce, fresh strawberries, and vanilla cream). Try one of five mini square “cloud” sponge cakes, named by Ou and inspired by a similar cake found in Taiwan. The green tea cloud, baked with freshly steeped matcha green tea and filled with light, fluffy red bean cream, and the blueberry cloud with aromatic lavender cream perfectly pair tea and sweet.
“The most beautiful things come from imperfection,” said Ou. “The best teas aren’t exactly from the perfect looking leaves.”
In an imperfect world on the corner of Arroyo Parkway and Cordova, young professionals, families, friends, and the health conscious find a happy place. “There’s something great about seeing families come together to have family time here. I love that,” said Ou. “It feels like we’ve done something right, if you can be a place and source of happiness for people.”
As for other neighborhoods besides Pasadena, look for Flour + Tea elsewhere in the near future, possibly in west side LA, northern California, New York, Seattle, or India. “We picked Pasadena because we felt it’s a strong bridge between the west side and the San Gabriel Valley, and to test the market to see how well or not well received our concept of the marriage between East and West would be,” said Ou.
Well received it is.
Mon. – Thu., Sun. 9am-10pm
Fri. – Sat., 9am-11pm
Drinks: $4 or less
Custom brewed teas: price varies depending on tea grade
Loose teas: $7.50 to $50 for a quarter pound
Sweet and savory breads: $1.50 to $3
Cake slices: $4
Custom cakes (8” to full sheet): starting at $36
View the partial menu here.
Del Mar structure on the west side of Arroyo Parkway (first 90 minutes free) and structure next to Flour + Tea (30 minutes)
Check in via Yelp for 10% off a cake slice or cloud.