By Kathy YL Chan
New York is a city on the move. Slow down the pace and relax with a pot of tea at one of our favorite spots. From simple spreads to silver-tray service, these are our top picks for the city’s best tea experiences.
For Couples: The Pierre Hotel
The Two e Bar/Lounge in The Pierre Hotel turns into a luxurious bar in the evening, but during the afternoon it’s a chic lounge for tea served on low tables and plush seats. A set menu offers seven different savory bites, such as spiced chicken on brioche and caviar sandwiches. Don’t miss the miniature fruit tarts and coffee éclairs.
Tip: The best tea here isn’t on the menu. Ask for the "Warm Sunrise," a secret house creation of chamomile tea, fresh oranges, lemon, honey and cinnamon sticks.
For a Casual Scene: Podunk
Order and pick up your tea tray at the counter of Podunk (231 E. 5th Street, 212/677-7722), an East Village classic. There’s no table service, but the space is most welcoming. Podunk is like your aunt’s living room—cozy and colorful, with mismatched teapots and plates. There are more than a dozen tea sets, some that favors sweets while others lean toward savory.
Tip: You can’t go wrong with the "Our Old Friends Tea," a balanced set which includes the café’s famous cheddar biscuits. They’re ridiculously buttery and crisp.
For Kids: Russian Tea Room
The elaborate Russian Tea Room in midtown is one of the few places in this city that offer an afternoon tea specifically catered to children. Whereas adults are served caviar on blini among a generous assortment of traditional treats, children receive peanut butter and jelly on blini, miniature grilled cheeses, and pigs-in-a-blanket.
Price: $50 for adults, $35 for children under 12
Tip: Try the homemade Cherry Varenya—whole wild cherries in syrup—meant to replace sugar in your tea.
For a Great Value: Bosie Tea Parlor
The tea sandwiches are picture-perfect and the macarons are homemade at Boise Tea Parlor. There’s also tea-inspired sweets, such as Earl Grey crepe cakes and Darjeeling tarts. Situated on a cozy West Village street, French music plays quietly in the background and golden tea tins line the wall.
Tip: Order the almond cookie rooibos tea from l’Âge de Thé—Bosie’s very own tea brand.
For Tea With a Twist: Cha-An
Located in the East Village, Cha-An puts a distinctively Japanese twist on the classic afternoon tea. Settle in with a warm pot of hojicha or genmaicha in this second floor tea house, where scones are baked to order and the savories and sweets such as mochi and matcha shortbread are served in courses on Japanese ceramics.
Tip: Make sure to request the Earl Grey scones, which arrive hot at your table.
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Photo credit: courtesy Kathy YL Chan