New York might be a city that runs on caffeine and espresso-based beverages, but sometimes you just need a spot of soothing green tea to get you through the day. And the Big Apple offers many different types of teahouses, from hidden Japanese enclaves to bustling Brit eateries. Here are my five favorite spots for a cuppa tea.
Cha-An Tea House: Tucked away on the second floor of a squat East Village building lies this cozy Japanese-style teahouse. In addition to the five types of black teas and the 11 assortments of green, you’ll find rarer varieties like pu-erh and white teas (try the silver needle). Cookies, scones, and toasts round out the snacking options. 230 East 9th Street, 212-228-8030
Bosie Tea Parlor: Named for Oscar Wilde’s lover, this tranquil West Village spot offers the usual bounty of afternoon-appropriate finger sandwiches, scones, and quiches. The shop also stocks an impressive selection of more than 80 uniquely flavored teas from the proprietary l’Âge de Thé. Pop in late afternoon and dig into one of the many fancy desserts, which include an assortment of colored macarons and Darjeeling tarts. Or if you really want to relax, swap a glass of wine for tea and curl up in an armchair with The Picture of Dorian Gray. 10 Morton Street, 212-352-9900
Nom Wah Tea Parlor: Tucked away on Doyers Street in the heart of Chinatown, you’ll find the city’s oldest tea parlor, although a renovation last year resulted in a minor overhaul of the décor. Here it’s much more about the ambiance and the dim sum than the tea, which is fine, though not totally worth the trip alone. Standouts to nibble on while sipping your cuppa include steamed rice rolls, North China-style fried dumplings, siu mai, and fluffy roast pork buns. 13 Doyers Street, 212-962-6047
Podunk: New York is full of hustle and bustle, but popping into the East Village tea shop Podunk will transport you right back to the Midwest. Mismatched vintage chairs and shelves cluttered with books and tchotchkes fill the space, while the menu offers a variety of tea blends (get the Vietnamese vanilla) plus hot-tea punches, lefse flatbread sandwiches, and big slabs of cake and cookies. Note, though — like in many Podunk towns — it’s a cash-only establishment. 231 East 5th Street, 212-677-7722
Tea & Sympathy: No one does afternoon tea quite like the British, and this Anglo-centric spot offers our favorite high tea in the city. Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream so thick you’re ingesting calories just looking at it. Crust-less cucumber finger sandwiches. And, of course, a lovely selection of flavored teas (go for the blackcurrant). Expect to pay like Queen Elizabeth, though: High tea here costs $35 per person. 108 Greenwich Avenue, 212-807-8329