Best teahouses

Where to soothe your soul.

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  • Alice's Tea Cup

  • Communitea

  • Franchia

  • Lady Mendl's

  • Radiance Tea House & Books

  • Subtle Tea

  • Tea Box Restaurant

Alice's Tea Cup

Alice’s Tea Cup
Stepping into this whimsical, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland--themed space truly feels like being taken down the rabbit hole: You’ll be transported to a place where your biggest concern is choosing from the vast selection of imported teas. Try the Herbal Detox Blend, a mix of alfalfa, dandelion, nettle bush, plantain, red clover and mint; a pot of tea and two dense scones goes for just $10. 102 W 73rd St at Columbus Ave (212-799-3006, alicesteacup.com) *156 E 64th St at Lexington Ave (212-486-9200) *220 E 81st St between Second and Third Aves (212-734-4832)

Communitea
This mellow neighborhood caf has more to offer than a Gossip Girl trivia connection and free Wi-Fi for its laptop-toting clientele. The organic loose-leaf teas (a pot averages $3) and adorable afternoon tea service—a three-tiered spread of sandwiches, scones and pastries designed for two ($19.95)—is worth the trip alone. 47-02 Vernon Blvd at 47th Ave, Long Island City, Queens (718-729-7708, communitea.net)

Franchia Teahouse & Restaurant
At this tranquil tri-level vegan eatery, you’re invited to sit upstairs in the traditional mountain-temple tearoom while you sip Korean wild green tea ($5--$10, depending on when it was picked). The beverage is served in white ceramic cups, designed so that you can appreciate its full flavor, hue and aroma. Pair it with spicy kimchi dumplings ($6.95) or cool off with a Tealatta, an icy blended treat topped with soy whipped cream ($6). 12 Park Ave between 34th and 35th Sts (212-213-1001, franchia.com)

Lady Mendl’s
There’s something so refined—and serene—about a proper afternoon tea, especially when it’s taken in a room as charming as this Victorian-style salon. Reservations are required for the five-course service ($35), which includes finger sandwiches like smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, warm scones and clotted cream, and tea. But the comfort (fireside brocade settees) and quietude (cell phones are forbidden) make it worth the advance planning. The Inn at Irving Place, 56 Irving Pl between 17th and 18th Sts (212-533-4466, ladymendls.com)

Radiance Tea House & Books
This shrine to the culture and history of tea offers traditional hour-long Chinese-style ceremonies, where you’ll get to sample three brews ($35). Radiance also hosts regular group tastings (you’ll try white, green, oolong, black and herbal infusions while nibbling mochi treats) that will teach you how to properly steep a pot at home ($15). Or simply drop in for a cup—there are more than 100 varieties, organized by country of origin—while thumbing through books about tea written in English and Chinese. 158 W 55th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves (212-217-0442, radiancetea.com)

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 Lavender Flowers pure organic white tea ($3). 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 is on Metropolitan Ave between Roebling and Havemeyer Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-963-0760, roeblingtearoom.com)

Subtle Tea
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 to the evening picks. 121 Madison Ave between 30th and 31st Sts (212-481-4713, subtleteastore.com)

Tea Box Restaurant
Hidden in the basement of Takashimaya, this minimalist retreat serves nearly 40 international brews (individual pot $5.50). Its East-West afternoon tea (daily 3--5:30pm, $20) includes soybean scones, butter cookies, fruit, and open-faced finger sandwiches such as chicken with wasabi mayo and cucumber on pressed rice. You can also bring the Zen home—select tableware and all of the teas are for sale. Takashimaya, 693 Fifth Ave between 54th and 55th Sts (212-350-0180, takashimaya-ny.com)

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