Thursday, March 31, 2011

Food Trend Alert: Pinkies Up, It's Tea Time!

It is hard to believe that a beverage that's been around since, oh about 200 BC is the city's hottest "new" drink trend. Then again when we are talking about trends and the city, nothing really surprises me anymore.

Coffee drinkers beware, it's no longer all about the bean. Even though the resurgence of tea may seem bizarre, it's happening in a big way. Leave it to NYC to make the leafy brew seem exciting and fresh.

It's not about ordering the caffeine alternative at Starbucks, it's about tea partying at tea-exclusive joints or ordering from tea-specific menus.

 Yes, these places do exist!

Put on something proper and head to one of my tea-time picks for a trendy refreshment.

 If you have a particular blend, bag, or oasis to recommend, please do let me know :-)

Alice Tea's Cup (102 W. 73rd St., 212-799-3006) Taking a cue from Alice in Wonderland, this trio of joyful tea parlors indulges our inner child. You can play dress-up with the baskets full of tea attire and drink cup after cup while pretending to be lost in Alice's fictional fantasy land. So far I have only been to the one in UWS and I loved it!!! Their sanwiched and scones are to die for!!!
Nom Wah Tea Parlor (13 Doyers St., 212-967-6047) Chinatown is hands down one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city.This 90-year old Chinatown tea institution is newly back in business after a six month renovation. It may look like a hole in the wall, but the quality of tea inside is unparalleled. The Tang family has kept its 10 traditional Asian tea options intact but has added more "Western" flavors to its menu.
Russian Tea Room (157 W. 57th St., 212-581-7100) The Russian Imperial Ballet founded this tea room in 1927, and it still lives up to its imperial roots. Over the years, the Russian Tea Room has been the meeting place for businessman, politicians, actors, and Carnegie Hall performers. With that kind of crowd, there's definitely something special in the tea, right?
Tea & Sympathy (108 Greenwich Ave., 212-989-9735)  This British import (Anglophiles, march this way!) specializes in Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Rosie Lee teas. Stock up on particularly English inventory — that includes house teas, an extensive collection of Union Jack memorabilia, teapots, mugs, British sweets, and chocolates.
Lady Mendl's Tea Salon (56 Irving Pl., 212-533-4466 ) Set in an inn on Irving Place, the Victorian design and ambiance lend itself to a very high tea afternoon. Enjoy a five-course tea sitting, complete with dainty finger foods and scones. It's not hard to see why Edith Wharton used to entertain guests here. I'm not making this stuff up.

McNulty's (109 Christopher St., 212-242-5351) Jars and jars of loose leaf tea are stacked in this West Village tea and coffee emporium. It feels very authentic (because it is!) and makes me feel as if I've actually traveled far and wide to get a hold of such exotic satchels of tea. It only helps that McNulty's employs the use of bins, chests, and scales that date back to the previous century — proof that tea drinking has been cool for a very long time.
Teany (90 Rivington St., 212-475-9190) Music artist Moby created this space as a haven for tea drinkers, vegans, and vegetarians alike. Pair these sensibilities with its cozy Lower East Side location, and it has all the elements for a great afternoon tea break. The minimalist design and mod tea pots with unmistakable "teany" logos are just a few of the ways in which the tea room reminds its drinkers that "Moby was here."

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