Alice’s Tea Cup (www.alicesteacup.com)
Manhattan (Upper West Side and two locations on the Upper East Side)
It’s not every day that we share tea with the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter, but not every place is like NYC’s Alice’s Tea Cup. Whimsy tops the menu at these Alice in Wonderland-inspired cafes which offer breakfast, lunch, light suppers, and afternoon tea. Not feeling fanciful enough? Fairy wings are available for purchase.
Alice’s three locations have become a must-visit destination for parents with children and those looking for a light-hearted tea experience. Owners, sisters Lauren and Haley Fox, opened their first location in 2001 on the Upper West Side and they have continued to grow the business, adding two additional teahouses in the ensuing years.
This teahouse offers a menu that allows visitors to order “afternoon tea” any time of day. Alice’s Mad Morning Tea includes tea, scones, eggs, and granola with yogurt. Three different tea options greet the afternoon crowd: The Nibble (tea, scone, one sandwich and cookies), The Mad Hatter (tea, two scones, two sandwiches and assorted desserts) and The Jabberwocky which allows you to eat to your heart’s content. At Alice’s Tea Cup: Chapter II (on East 64th) you can add wine and tea-infused champagne cocktails and mar-tea-nis to your experience.
The tea list is lengthy, including black, green, and white teas and tisanes. Along with names we have come to expect like Darjeelings from the Castleton and Margaret’s Hope Estates, Keemun, Sencha, and Bai Mu Dan, you will find some unusual offerings to try like teas from Cameroon and Mauritius, a blend of green tea and rooibos, and raspberry leaf tisanes for moms-to-be.
Alice’s Tea Cup is open 7 days a week. 102 West 73rd St. (212) 799-3006. / 156 East 64th St. (212) 486-9200. / 220 East 81st St. (212) 734-4TEA.
Bosie Tea Parlor (www.bosienyc.com)
Manhattan (West Village)
This West Village tea parlor welcomes you into its French-inspired cafe with dark wood tables, exposed brick, and white pressed tin ceilings. Visitors should not be surprised to see macaroons on the plates of many of the customers in this 20-seat establishment. The pastry chef is Damien Herrgot who began his training at Ladurée in Paris and then continued on to work at Pierre Hermé. Lisa Boalt Richardson, author of “Tea with a Twist,” says she had a “delicious lunch with tea as an ingredient and some of the best macaroons, some with tea in them, I have ever tasted.” Some of the popular macaroon flavors include vanilla cheesecake, salted caramel, rose, chai and even bacon maple syrup.
Bosie offers brunch, lunch, dinner, and all-day afternoon tea service. The Bosie Tea Service includes tea, scones, sandwiches, tea cakes and macaroons. Champagne Tea Service is also available as well as a Chef’s Tea Service with champagne and canapés that include quail egg and black truffle and duck. Guests to owner Nick Dawda and Kiley Holliday’s establishment can keep themselves busy selecting from the more than 80 loose leaf teas on the menu. All the teas come from their in-house line, l’Âge de Thé, that is curated by Holliday.
Bosie is open 7 days a week. 10 Morton St. (212) 352-9900.
Manhattan (East Village)
Nestled on the 2nd floor of a building in Manhattan’s East Village, Cha-An’s Japanese teahouse transports visitors to a place of tranquility. Specializing in small plates, guests can choose from an array of traditional and specialty dishes from tea-smoked salmon to unagi to soy milk quiche.
Afternoon Tea Sets are available until 7 p.m. with bagel sandwiches, scones and sweets. The desserts receive raves, especially the black sesame crème brulee. The tea selection offers wonderful options for pairing with your food with Indian and China black teas, traditional greens like Genmaicha, jasmine pearl and fukamushi, oolongs like honey phoenix and tie guan yin, white teas and herbals. Tea can also be purchased by the ounce to take home. Be prepared, however; Cha-An is cash only.
Cha-An has a 2-mat tea room where Japanese tea ceremonies are offered two Sundays per month.
Open 7 days a week. 230 East 9th St, 2nd Fl. (212) 228-8030.
Physical GraffiTea (www.physicalgraffitea.com)
Manhattan (East Village)
In the basement level of a building immediately recognizable to fans of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album, Physical GraffiTea has been serving tea in Manhattan’s East Village since 2011.
An expansive tea counter backed by a wall of tea dominates the room. Images of the Beatles gaze down on you as you choose one of their more than 200 loose leaf teas and herbals. These organic and Fair Trade teas and tisanes are served by the ounce, cup or pot. With more than 40 black teas, 2 dozen greens, nearly a dozen oolongs and many chai, white, Pu-erh, rooibos, mates and herbals you will certainly find something to meet your desire. Cookies and scones are available should you need a snack.
The space can be reserved for private parties as well.
Open 7 days a week. 96 St. Marks. (212) 477-7334.
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”
Maybe C.S. Lewis just needed to discover midtown Manhattan’s Radiance Tea House & Books. Opened in 2008, this combination tea cafe and bookseller draws raves from fans for its soothing, warm environment.
A passion for tea guides all aspects of Radiance’s operation. Begin with the tea menu with dozens of hot and iced teas as well as a full menu of wellness and herbal blends. You might choose to sit with a cup, perusing their extensive selection of tea books in English and Chinese. Does all that reading make you hungry for a treat? Enjoy something from their menu, like a noodle box, a dumpling sampler or teriyaki glazed salmon, or a sweet treat like almond tofu or grapefruit agar. Afternoon tea tastings, modeled after Chinese Tea Ceremony, include a selection of three teas to try while the full afternoon tea includes tea and an array of savory and sweet dishes to enjoy. With advanced reservations you can arrange to participate in a Chinese and Taiwanese-style tea ceremony.
Open 7 days a week. 158 West 55th St. (212) 217-0442
Manhattan (Midtown and Upper West Side)
In 2006 Tavalon opened its doors with the goal of creating a modern take on tea. With a name derived from a combination of “Tea” and “Avalon” from the Arthurian legends, Tavalon had a DJ spinning tunes, an approachable atmosphere, and a vibe that felt fresh and new. While the original New York cafe closed its doors, this fast-moving business opened shops in Seoul, developed a strong internet and wholesale business model, and positioned itself to move forward.
Now Tavalon has two new shops in NYC. Blu Café by Tavalon was created in conjunction with real estate firm Blu Realty. In this Trump Tower apartment building location, the cafe serves the building’s residents as well as people perusing new real estate listings. Tea-infused cookies and pastries, frozen yogurt, sandwiches and salads, and an eclectic mix of teas and even tea sodas make up the menu.
The second cafe opened on 3rd Avenue in January 2013.
Open 7 days a week. 120 Riverside Blvd. (66th St.) (212) 580-1200. / 830 3rd Avenue.
Tea and Sympathy (www.teaandsympathy.com)
Manhattan (Greenwich Village)
Craving some bangers and mash, coronation chicken, or Welsh rarebit? Then step into this little bit of England in Greenwich Village. As food historian/tea specialist Judith Krall Russo says, “It is like being in a small county tea room some place in the British Isles with its rough charm.”
Weekend guests can enjoy a hearty breakfast while lunch, dinner, and afternoon tea are served daily. Afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and cakes. Select one of Tea & Sympathy’s blends or one of the thirty branded teas on offer.
If you need to restock your pantry with McVitie’s Digestives, Jammie Dodgers, or Lyle’s Black Treacle, you’ll find what you need in Tea & Sympathy’s shop.
Open 7 days a week. 108 Greenwich Avenue. (212) 989-9735.
Tea Lounge (www.tealoungeny.com)
Brooklyn (Park Slope)
This 12-year-old Park Slope staple is as steeped in community as it is in tea. With 65 loose leaf organic teas and herbals on the menu, you’ll be grateful to nab a comfy chair and a good book so you can spend some time. While some traditional teas like Darjeeling and Gunpowder appear on the menu, the tea selection tends toward the flavored varieties such as black caramel, chocolate spice, and berry melon sencha. Visitors will find baked goods and breakfast sandwiches; snack plates like hummus and carrots or apples and peanut butter; sandwiches, salads, and quiche, among other food options.
Stop by some evening and enjoy excellent live music, including a weekly jazz series called “Tea and Jam.” Tea Lounge customers can order wine and beer or mixed drinks.
The shop is in the process of cultivating Tea Lounge franchises. A franchise will open in Kuwait in April 2013 and another in Brooklyn in the summer of 2013.
Open 7 days a week. 837 Union St. (718) 789-2762.