As a self-identified "tea snob" who grew up attending afternoon tea in Manhattan with her mother, Haley Fox knew from an early age that loose tea trumped bagged and that there are multiple types of Darjeeling. So it was only fitting that, as an adult, she opened up Alice's Tea Cup with her sister—and fellow tea snob—Lauren. The beloved teahouse (and popular kid birthday-party spot) now has three locations that serve fine tea and scones along with a menu of scrumptious fare; a pared down outlet can be found inside Chelsea's Books of Wonder as well. Naturally, Fox, who lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, Michael Eisenberg, the company's director of operations, has passed down her love of the drink to their son, Maddan, 8, and daughter, Finley, 5.
Do your children spend a lot of time at the different Alice's Tea Cup locations?
ME Yes! They still think of it as a special experience, but they also have a pride of ownership as well.
HF They're both obsessed with our pumpkin scones and pretty much all of the baked goods. We do the chocolate cake for their birthdays—they won't eat any other chocolate cake.
Sounds like they like sweets! Do you have any issues getting them to eat healthy food?
HF I think we do, like everybody, but we're very creative about it at home. We make kale chips and I've gotten them to eat flounder by using butter and panko. We also make them an avocado shake every day—it's half an avocado, a spoonful of yogurt, some maple syrup and a little bit of milk. A friend from Lebanon gave us this suggestion.
Do the kids drink tea?
HF They love rooibos. It's a South African herb that translates to "red bush." We used to give it to Maddan when he was a baby because he didn't like to drink much—a half bottle of rooibos with a half of breast milk!
Any new tea trends we should keep an eye out for?
ME A lot of blends are becoming more and more inspired by what's going on in the culinary field. We got a proposal the other day for a birthday cake tea. People are infusing the tea with different flavors of birthday cake and cupcakes. We're definitely not going that route!
HF We already carry 140 different teas, so our expansion plans are pretty limited. We've also been a little resistant to some of the trends like bubble tea.
What's been your secret to making Alice's Tea Cup such a family friendly place?
HF We just try to make it as comfortable as possible. We have fairy wings that are available for kids to wear while they're having their tea, and books they can read. And we sparkle kids when they come in with fairy dust! It makes the girls act more proper, like little ladies having afternoon tea—and that's good for everybody!
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