Top tea rooms in Manhattan
Even in an era of global warming, there's always a place for a hot cup of tea in wintertime. New York's tea establishments tend to be either Asian- or British-inflected, since those parts of the globe have turned their appreciation into an art form. Whether you're sitting down to an elegant ritual with cucumber sandwiches or grabbing a slushy "bubble tea" in Chinatown, here are the top Manhattan stops. --TED LOOS. Special to Newsday
TEA & SYMPATHY: An authentic British spot in the West Village with a British staff and a persnickety list of rules; you'll feel like the queen herself is liable to walk in. Great food abounds, such as Welsh rarebit, and there's a $13 minimum; no duffers, please. High tea for two, with scones and a tiered plate of little cakes, is $36.
Where: 108 Greenwich Ave.
Info: 212-989-9735, teaandsympathy.com
Lisa Guttman, left, and Jenna Young, both from Manhattan, sit down for high tea at Tea & Sympathy. (Jan. 12, 2013)
A waitress serves finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and cake at Tea & Sympathy. (Jan. 12, 2013)
High tea at Tea & Sympathy. (Jan. 12, 2013)
TEN REN'S TEA TIME: Bubble tea -- the tapioca-and-tea drink (around $5) -- is the attraction here in Chinatown, with booths for sitting a spell. But Ten Ren, the Taiwan-based tea specialist, has several locations around town, including an attractive tea grocery just a few doors away on Mott, with a large selection of Chinese tea in metal canisters and a helpful staff.
Where: 79 Mott St.
Info: 800-292-2049, tenrenusa.com
Ellen L. Lii, vice president of Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng, scoops tea leaves. (Jan. 12, 2013)
Tea with milk and black sugar, traditional iced tea tapioca, and green apple black tea are among the cold offerings at Ten Ren's. (Jan. 12, 2013)
Chinese teas line the shelves at the Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng shop. (Jan. 12, 2013)
Jorge Suazo and the Norales family from the Bronx order Chinese teas at Ten Ren's Tea Time. (Jan. 12, 2013)
LADY MENDL'S TEA SALON Located in the high-end Inn at Irving Place -- so discreet that there is no signage outside -- this Gramercy spot is for special occasions, as when Granny comes to town. They also do a big business in showers and bridal teas. Relatively formal, Lady Mendl's serves a five-course tea ($40) that includes an amuse-bouche, cakes, cookies, scones and sandwiches.
Where: 56 Irving Place
Info: 212-533-4600, innatirving.com
From left, Kelly Garrone, Gabrielle Ciuffreda and Sumi DeBenedittis sit down for high tea -- including scones with Devonshire clotted cream and preserves -- at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon. (Jan. 12, 2013)
A waiter pours a cup of fresh-brewed tea at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon. (Jan. 12, 2013)
People linger over high tea at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon. (Jan. 12, 2013)
A group celebrates a birthday in the private room at Lady Mendl's Tea Salon. (Jan. 12, 2013)
ALICE'S TEA CUP: With three locations, two on the Upper East Side and one on the Upper West, Alice's has established itself as the go-to for stay-at-home moms and anyone who likes a cozy, storybook atmosphere. Brunch is a favorite meal here, and it's very kid-friendly -- little ones can get covered in "fairy dust," aka glitter. Alice's proprietary blend, made from black and green teas with vanilla and rose petals, is a standout.
Where: 102 W. 73rd St., 156 E. 64th St. and 220 E. 81st St.
Info: 212-734-4TEA, alicesteacup.com
FRANCHIA VEGAN CAFÉ: Franchia is committed not only to serving wild green tea from Korea, but to educating people about the whole field of tea; the website even includes detailed instructions on how to brew different types. Customers can come in and order a $10-$12 pot of tea from a large list of choices and drink it in a calming, Zen-like atmosphere. It's an offshoot of nearby Hangawi restaurant.
Where: 12 Park Ave.
Info: 212-213-1001, franchia.com
Darjeeling tea service at Franchia Vegan Cafe in Manhattan, which has a wide assortment of teas on the menu.