Tea traditions of another culture 

Seen through the skinny front window of the Oriental Tea House Bakery, a charming shop in the Vi-Mi district (831 N. Mills Ave.; 895-5056), the wedding-cake display doesn't quite capture what's inside.

Push past the front door and you'll find glass cases stuffed with 30 kinds of desserts and pastries -- all baked that day -- at about 65 cents a pop. My two hands-down favorites were the pancake-sized almond cookies and the spongy "cone cakes," which came wrapped in wax paper. But don't expect a sugar rush: In typical Asian style, these treats are barely sweetened.

For something more substantial, order a scallion bun or a roll stuffed with spicy pork and cabbage. And you can try teas that range from jasmine to "high mountain oolong." Then sit at one of the few sets of tables and chairs with some reading material from W.J. Oriental Books, with which the bakery shares a storefront.

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