Best teahouses in New York City
Relax with a soothing pot of tea and snacks.
Tue Mar 2 2010
You have to climb a flight of stairs and peek behind a curtain to find this tranquil teahouse, which offers a succession of deftly crafted plates accompanied by a thoughtful list of teas and sake. Each night features two special "sets" that take you from an amuse-bouche like creamy soy-milk quiche through a selection of tiny bites (pickled eggplant, marinated lotus root), to entres such as tea-smoked salmon with sliced radish, Dijon mustard and tarragon. It's a great escape from the East Village crowds. 230 E 9th St between Second and Third Aves (212-228-8030, chaanteahouse.com). Prix-fixe tea: $15.
A surplus of Tibetan rugs and a lush back garden set the tone at this tea lovers' haven, where loose-leaf organic and fair-trade varieties are served ceremoniously in hefty iron pots. Try the low-key Ceylon Curls green tea ($3.95), or a mug of fragrant masala chai ($3.95). 33-17 31st Ave between 33rd and 34th Sts (718-777-7450, himalayateahouse.com)
Step through the creaky screened door and out of Manhattan. In her round granny glasses and bandana, Elspeth, the Minnesotan owner, brings a mellow rural vibe to her knickknacked tea shop. She offers more than 85 types of tea (try spicy ginger-verbena or iced strawberry-hibiscus), and 22 "informal tea meals," featuring freshly baked vanilla cupcakes, lemon-ginger cookies and cranberry-pecan scones. While away the afternoon in an Adirondack chair, or gather a dozen of your best friends for a private tea party. 231 E 5th St between Second and Third Aves (212-677-7722). Average pastry: $4.
Roebling Tea Room
If you can overlook the notoriously sluggish service, this high-ceilinged, light-filled restaurant is a pleasant place for a calming cup of tea. In addition to the dozens of greens, reds, blacks and yerba mats, Roebling Tea Room offers cocktails and a full menu, so come during the day if you want to spread out on one of the couches before the dinner-and-drinks crowd rolls in. 143 Roebling St, entrance on Metropolitan Ave between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-0760, roeblingtearoom.com). Average cup of tea: $3.
Saint's Alp Teahouse
This "Taiwanese style" teahouse chain started in Hong Kong and now has locations in both Williamsburg and the East Village. The house specialties are bubble tea with pearl tapioca balls, milk tea, and snacks like spring rolls and fried dumplings. 164 Bedford Ave at North 8th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-3888) o 39 Third Ave at 10th St (212-598-1890). Average cup of tea: $4.
The first outpost of this local company helps tea sheds its grannyish rep. A hip crowd gathers at the dark-wood bar to savor more than 50 brews, infused cocktails and Kevin Stanton's (Bouley) tea-based food menu. 337B West Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts (212-941-7832). Average main course: $16, three-course prix-fixe $30.
No need to lug heavy hardcovers here: Subtle Tea provides the reading material, stocking newspapers and magazines at the long communal table where worker bees sign on to the free Wi-Fi. Order a Teaspresso ($2.50), made by steeping ample golden Yunnan in just six ounces of water, creating a heavily caffeinated concoction. The tea menu is organized by recommended time of consumption, based on caffeine potency, so if you'd rather avoid the jitters, stick with the evening picks. 121 Madison Ave between 30th and 31st Sts (212-481-4713, subtleteastore.com). Average cup of tea: $3.
This cozy Greenwich Village caf has exposed-brick walls and an assortment of comfy chairs, where you can relax while you sip a selection of loose-leaf teas and inventive "tea lattes." Pair your cuppa with a snack from the extensive menu of sandwiches and pastries. Takeout is also available, although if you stay you can take advantage of free Wi-Fi. 127 MacDougal St between 3rd and 4th Sts (212-505-1248). Average cup of tea: $4.
This tiny, rustic caf specializes in Japanese teas and classic French pastries, which are listed alongside daily special soups and baguette sandwiches on a chalkboard menu. An extensive list of teas (including a selection of Mariage Frres) are served by the pot. 17 E 13th St between Fifth Ave and University Pl (212-243-8742). Average pot of tea: $5.
T Salon of Chelsea Market
Choose from among the 450 different leaves available at this tea salon, where reclining-Buddha statues and photos of the Dalai Lama lend the air of a Tibetan meditation retreat to what could be an English country parlor. Teas come hot or iced, in smoothies or in gelati, or with scones, sandwiches, Devon cream and jam for a spot of afternoon tea. Chelsea Market, 459 W 15th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-243-0432, tsalon.com). Tea service: $35 per person.