New York's Top Tea Rooms
by Bruce Richardson
Still think tea is only for Londoners? New York City is one of the hottest scenes for great tea these days. Over one hundred tearooms, cafes, restaurants and hotels now serve a proper cup of tea.
It�s not just your grandmother who�s going to tearooms. Lawyers and financiers are cutting multi-million dollar deals over afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park. Twenty-somethings are having tea at Sweet Melissa�s in Brooklyn. Children of all ages are ducking into Alice�s Tea Cup on the Upper West Side for a bit of fairy tale fun washed down with a pot of tea.
No matter what tea tradition you crave � English, Japanese, Chinese, Irish, Tibetan, Indian, Russian, French, or a mixture of all � you can find it here. Tea is hot, hip and healthy!
Here�s a list of the top ten tearooms you can discover in New York. Taken from TEA IN THE CITY: NEW YORK by Elizabeth Knight and Bruce Richardson (2006, Benjamin Press).
Alice�s Tea Cup
102 W. 73rd St. off Columbus Ave.
� Mon.-Thurs. 8am-8pm, Fri. 8am-10pm, Sat. 10am-10pm, Sun. 10am-8pm 212-799-3006 � Reservations required for parties of six or more � Child friendly � Tea by the pot. Afternoon set tea. A la carte menu. $$
Alice fell down the rabbit hole, but you�ll only have to duck down a short flight of stairs to reach this cheerful tea room. Four scrumptious set teas are offered, all with generous portions: The Nibble, The Mad Hatter, The Jabberwocky or The Wee Tea (ideal for children under ten). Try the pumpkin scones!
The Astor Court at the St. Regis Hotel
2 East 55th St. btwn. Madison and Fifth Aves.
� Daily 2:30 and 4pm � 212-753-4500 � Reservations recommended � Full afternoon set tea. Champagne. Port. Sherry. $$$
There is no tea service in New York more elegant than afternoon tea at The St. Regis. Fifteen tables, crisply dressed in snowy Porthault linens, gather around an enormous bouquet of fresh flowers. Patrons are served on Limoges porcelain designed by Tiffany and Company exclusively for the hotel. Comfortably seated in plush chairs or perched on a plump banquette, guests are never rushed.
230 E 9th St. btwn. 2nd & 3rd Aves.
� Daily noon-5pm � Tel. 212-228-8030 � Reservations required � Afternoon set tea. $$
You don�t have to travel to Tokyo to experience a traditional Japanese-style tea, but you do have to climb two flights of stairs to reach Cha-An (�little place to have tea�). The restaurant�s bustling open kitchen and bar are balanced by a traditional, three-tatami-mat tea room roofed with bamboo. Cha-An serves a Western-style afternoon tea prepared with great care.
The Harlem Tea Room
1793-A Madison Ave., NE corner 118th St.
� Closed Mon. Hours: Tues.-Thur. 10am-9pm, Fri. 10am-10pm, Sat. 9am-10pm, Sun. 9am-7:30pm. � 212-348-3471 � Reservations required. � Major credit cards � Tea by the pot. Afternoon set tea. Cream tea. A la carte menu. $
Harlem native Patrice Clayton, a lifelong tea-lover, opened the Harlem Tea Room in 2004. The contemporary d�cor is warmed by floor-length burgundy curtains, a copper tea bar, and paisley-patterned upholstery. �It�s a place where people can relax and feel comfortable outside their home,� Patrice says. Twenty-one types of teas, including chai, organics, herbals, and three exotic blends, are on the menu.
The Hotel Plaza Ath�n�e
37 E. 64th St. btwn. Park and Madison Aves.
� Daily 2:30-5pm �. 212-734-9100 � Reservations recommended for groups of seven or more � Afternoon set tea. Champagne. $$$
A full afternoon tea may be enjoyed in the romantic Bar Seine lounge, decorated with red-lacquered walls, leather floors, and scorched rattan chairs, or in the Euro-Asian ambience of the Arabelle restaurant. The teas are brewed with soft Fiji water chosen for its low mineral content. Afternoon tea treats include sandwiches (salmon cucumber-cream cheese, herbed shrimp salad, prosciutto wrapped in a baguette), large raisin scones dusted with powdered sugar, a chocolate brownie, chocolate-dipped strawberries, fruit tarts, apple pie, and lemon curd with a cherry coulis.
Lady Mendl�s Tea Salon at the Inn at Irving Place
56 W. Irving Pl. btwn. 17th and 18th Sts.
� Five-course tea served Wed.-Fri. at 3pm or 5pm, Sat.-Sun. at 2pm or 4:30pm � 212-533-4466 � Reservations required one month in advance � Full afternoon tea. $$
This salon is consistently rated one of the most romantic places to enjoy tea in the city. Victorian-style architecture, period antique furniture, and art recreate a time of sublime elegance. Small tables draped with white, lacy linens are scattered throughout two first-floor rooms. You�ll need to look carefully for the discreet brass plaque bearing the name Lady Mendl�s.
Lobby Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Battery Park
Two West Street at Battery Place
� Closed Sundays. Open Mon.-Sat. 2-5pm � 212-344-0800 � Reservations recommended � Dress code: business casual � Full set afternoon. $$$
The Art Deco-inspired Lobby Lounge hosts a stylish afternoon tea in a quiet setting. Assorted tea breads, warm raison scones, and decadent mini-pastries will satisfy the most discriminating sweet tooth.
Sweet Melissa Patisserie
276 Court St. btwn. Butler and Douglass Sts. (Cobble Hill)
� Afternoon tea served daily 11am-5pm � 718- 855-3410 � Child friendly � Tea by the pot. Full afternoon tea. Snacks. Sweets. $
French Culinary Institute graduate Melissa Murphy Hagenbart knows how to bake a fancy French tart. She made a name for herself baking for upscale Manhattan restaurants but decided to open a patisserie in an affordable neighborhood. The little tea room is cheerfully decorated with French country flair: upholstered banquettes lined with teacup print fabric and pumpkin-colored walls hung with vintage posters advertising French chocolate. A shaded garden offers additional seating in good weather.
Copyrighted by Benjamin Press.