New York City has definitely ridden the wave of the coffee boom. For the better or the worse, you cannot go a block without seeing a coffee shop in most NYC neighborhoods. This makes sense because New Yorkers are always wired and hustling. But, recently, the specialty-tea movement has been gaining momentum.
The concept of afternoon high tea is getting more interest among New Yorkers. To be honest, ever since I had visited Spain, I’ve been jealous of their afternoon siestas, where it’s common for folks to go home mid-day for a nap. But, these tea rooms might be the closest thing to siestas that NYC will ever have.
Here is a roundup of the 10 best tea rooms in NYC right now:
163 West 10th Street
Regular goers treat this place like their second home. Husband-and-wife owners Elena Liao and Frederico Ribeiro are incredibly kind, nurturing, and attentive. They treat their customers like royalty. Elena sources the finest loose-leaf oolong teas directly from Taiwan, where she grew up. Frederico makes beautiful specialty dishes, often originating from Spain. The room is full of clay teapots, floral china, and WiFi, although on the weekends no computers are allowed. You can even schedule a tea tasting with Elena for $48.
Tea & Sympathy
108 Greenwich Avenue
This place isn’t fancy or pretentious, but rather comforting and calming, as well as affordable. The tea room adjoins a British restaurant that still serves Heinz baked beans. There are Queen Elizabeth tablecloths and Alice in Wonderland teapots – such a quaint place! Once you step inside, time slows down, and you feel like you’re in a fairy-tale. You can order a pot of PG Tips or Yorkshire Tea, or loose-leaf teas like rose-petal, vanilla, and chamomile-lavender.
125 East 39th Street
This is a three-century-old Japanese tea company that has only three locations in the world: Kyoto, Tokyo, and NYC. Although there is no place to sit, it still is a dreamy place to linger and become totally immersed in Japanese culture. You can get all the matcha you want here, and even watch the staff heat water in an iron kettle, and then peacefully whisk the matcha. If you ask, they’ll happily let you sample the rarer matchas they have for sale in bulk. This is truly the closest you’ll come to feeling like you’re in Japan without leaving the states.
Serengeti Tea & Spices
2292 Frederick Douglass Boulevard
This is my personal favorite spot, as I had frequented here when I was studying at Columbia for both undergrad and grad school. I lived a 10 to 15-minute walk from it, so it was easy to get addicted to it. They have imported teas from Africa and other places around the world. They also have a tasting room, where you can taste six to ten variations of a tea. The large, community table with a “no computer” policy often forced me to unplug and meet new people.
104 West Street (Brooklyn)
This award-winning tea company has recently moved from London to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The place is all about the luxury tea experience, with unique and seductively named blends like “Noble Savage.” Surrounded by trees and plants, the store feels like a mysterious Brooklyn forest. They emphasize the threads of imaginative nostalgia and traditional tea blending. Bellocq has expanded its original line of tea blends to include over 50 variations of pure teas, an assortment of herbal selections, and a growing number of in-house blends.
96 Saint Marks Place in East Village.
This cafe is located in the infamous “Physical Graffiti” building of Led Zeppelin’s sixth studio album. Since the tea room is slightly below ground level, it elicits a quiet-getaway atmosphere. There is always jazz music humming in the background, and the decor is always music themed. Grab a cup of organic and fair-trade tea while you sit against a beautiful exposed brick wall, or beneath their tree mural.
Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II
156 East 64th Street
We all remember Gossip Girl, right? Well, GG ‘tipped’ on Foursquare, “If you’re anything like B, you may have come here with Nanny when you were six, but why not relive your youth—and relieve your stress—with a cup of tea at this quaint neighborhood café?” Alice’s Tea Cup offers an unparalleled, magical experience for their guests – you’ll truly feel like you’ve been transported to Wonderland. Chapter II is their largest location, it has ample space for private events and features a tea-infused cocktail list. Plus, you’ll feel like a true Upper-Eastsider, just like B & S!
Bosie Tea Parlor
10 Morton Street in East Village
Known for being tucked away on a quiet block on Morton Street, this storefront is teeny. But, it still oozes charm, and there are small wooden tables that fill the parlor, as well as lounge chairs in the back. They have a large organic menu, hand-crafted macarons, and a selection of over a hundred fine loose teas. The atmosphere is mellow and soothing. It’s certainly a neighborhood gem!
224 West 4th Street
Located in the heart of the West Village, this tea room is known for their matcha green tea. Their matcha latte, hot or cold, is such a crowd-pleaser for avid lovers of the traditional drink. They also shake things up a bit with their matcha hot chocolate. Chalait matcha comes directly from some of the oldest and most celebrated tea growing regions in Japan. Their matcha is smooth and frothy, delivering an energizing punch.
Prince Tea House
36-39 Prince Street in Flushing, Queens
If you ever journey all the way to Flushing, you must check out this tea room! They have rave reviews for their customer service, prices, and most importantly, teas! This place got so popular that they recently opened a new location in Brooklyn (6122 7th Avenue). Both locations offer the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon spent with friends. They have late hours – open until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday. So, this is also a great place to hit up after dinner.