Pots of hot tea are key weapons for keeping the autumn chill at bay. While Long Islanders tend to be partial to coffee — in all of its iterations — they can still count a small constellation of tea shops in their midst, or at least cafes serving respectable cuppas.
In West Sayville, you can learn about the ins and outs of brewing the perfect cup, after choosing from hundreds of sometimes rare varieties; in Stony Brook, take a seat for high afternoon tea, complete with scones and clotted cream; in Rockville Centre, you can indulge in the owner’s luxe pastries while sipping a pot of temi sikkim darjeeling or Harney & Sons’ hot cinnamon spice. Here are some of our picks for places where the steep is careful and the vibes are warm.
Infuse Tea Bar (106 Main St., West Sayville): This is possibly Long Island’s most seriously tea-minded place, a petite spot chockablock with hundreds of loose-leaf teas and tisanes, each in a sample vial for pre-commitment sniffing. Purchase a bag of tea, and it comes with a temperature chart to help you brew once you get home. Owner Kristine Henderson sources far and wide but always wisely, and is happy to share pro tips for the perfect pot. Ask for some oolong, and Henderson may break out timers to achieve the optimum cup. While you wait at the wooden bar, she also might narrate the tea’s back story — where it came from, including climate and locale, and why the second (or even third) steep might be the best. More info: 631-567-4832, infuseteabarny.com
Swing the Teapot (6 Verbena Ave., Floral Park): This is a comfy, quirky tea shop (and cafe serving breakfast and lunch) with mismatched china, a lengthy food menu and dozens of loose-leaf teas from Harney & Sons, including coconut rooibos (or red-bush tea), delicate silver-needle white tea and robust Nilgiri green tea from southern India. More info: 516-488-2180, swingtheteapot.com
Clipper Ship Tea Co. (297 Main St., Huntington): This is a spare but elegant tea-lovers’ oasis, clad in nautical whites and blues, with pressed tin ceilings and shelves filled with 200-plus teas from across the world. They touch on every category you can imagine — ceremonial-grade matcha green tea, Oriental Beauty oolong, teas blended for sleep, detoxification and digestion (about half of the teas are single-origin, too). A few teas mimic longtime flavors from now-defunct Teavana, and there are counters for sipping brewed-to-order hot tea, batched iced teas or creamy, steamy matcha lattes. More info: 631-651-2764
Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. (41 E. Main St., Patchogue):This spacious shop and cafe is home to an enormous Garanti coffee roaster, but the 40-variety-strong tea offering comes from Manhasset’s SerendipiTea and harbors some gems, including organic earl grey blended with rose petals; a pungent chai, dragon pearl jasmine green tea and tea made from the husks of coffee cherries, also called cascara. Get each by the cup or by the pot, and settle in to a table with sweets such as almond croissants and vegan biscotti. More info: 631-627-3966, roast.coffee
Chat Noir (230 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre): The charming Chat Noir is the venture of Emma Tso, a former X-ray technician turned pastry chef who bakes most everything herself. For a simple cup, you can choose from an extensive collection that touched on black, green, herbal, fruit and oolong, many flavored with things such as peaches, coconut and herbs. The white tablecloth, tiered afternoon tea service is indulgent, with sandwiches such as ham and Brie with apricot and cucumber with crème fraîche; warm scones with clotted cream and berry jam; and cream-filled pastries, one shaped like a swan. There’s also extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. More info: 516-208-8521, chatnoirtea.com
Robinson’s Tea Room (97 Main St., Stony Brook): Lace curtains, floral tablecloths and a backdrop of teapots and cups for sale provide the ambience at this English-style tea shop. Full tea service includes a pot of freshly brewed loose tea — choose from 50 varieties — and tiered plates of housemade scones, clotted cream, raspberry preserves, finger sandwiches (cucumber among them) and pastries such as vanilla custard tarts and petits fours. It is $28 per person for full service, and $19 for a children’s tea, which also comes with age-appropriate chicken nuggets, mini pizzas and fruit skewers. More info: 631-751-1232, robinsonstearoom.com