NEW YORK TEA SAFARI
WHEN I FOUND OUT I WAS GOING TO NEW YORK TO DO PROMO’S FOR BRAVO.
I ASKED GOOGLE WHICH TEA HOUSES/SHOPS I SHOULD VISIT.
THERE IS A HUGE TEA CULTURE IN NEW YORK.
I DID MY RESEARCH AND CHOSE THE FOLLOWING 6.
1037 Third Avenue
Upper East Side
I walked into the shop and was immediately struck by how beautiful the shop looked. The teas are displayed in the most beautifully coloured caddies. The aroma was intoxicating. There was a scent table in the middle of the shop. I spent ages systematically inhaling each blend. I met Badr Lakchiri, the manager of the store. I told him I was on a Tea Safari and spoke of my love of tea. He immediately started explaining the history and varieties and gave me samples of most of the teas.
Kusmi was founded in 1867 by Pavel Kousmichoff in St. Petersburg. Kusmi Tea was appointed supplier to the court of the Tzars of ancient Russia. After developing Kusmi all over Russia, then in Northern Europe, Pavel opened its subsidiary in London in 1907, the capital of the tea trade.
In 1917, the Kousmichoff family fled from the Russian Revolution and set up its workshops at 75, Avenue Niel, Paris – still operating till this day – and settled in Berlin in 1927. Blends like Prince Vladimir and Anastasia have been kept secret for over a century.
The most recent development has been a collaboration with designer Jean Paul Gaultier on a packaging line. The result is extraorindinary.
I left Kusmi with a bag full of tea and a heart full of joy. Badr gave me a recipe for a Kusmipolitan. I will share it at the end of the story.
McNultys Tea and Coffee Co., Int.
109 Christopher Street,
McNultys was a very different shop from Kusmi. Kusmi was very modern and ordered, where McNultys was a treasure trove. There were many glass apothecary jars displayed on an antique table in an ancient looking shop that has been there since 1895. Originally an Irish family founded the store but somewhere in the early 1900’s David Wong’s family bought it and it has been in his family ever since. They never changed the name.
I met David and explained my love of tea and what I was doing. He showed me the old Chinese tea caddy’s that were over 100 years old and still used in the shop. There was so much history everywhere, it was overwhelming. And the tea……………..unbelievable. This family have forgotten more about tea than I will ever know.
I took some photos, spent nearly an hour in the apothecary jars and although I could have easily bought 20 different blends, I settled on “1001 night” and “Nepal Honey” Green Tea. Many of the recipes are over 100 years old.
When I got back to Melbourne, I served the “1001 Nights” tea at a dinner party. Everyone loved it so much and asked me for some, leaving me with only a couple of pots of tea left. Lucky I know where to get it.
McNultys is a must visit if you love tea.
Next on my list was
Harney and Sons
433 Broome Street
Harney and Sons is a huge store with shelves all the way up to a very high ceiling (accessed by a sliding ladder) and a beautiful tea room at the back. There are over 300 different blends, many displayed in uniform black tins. You can taste any of the teas before you buy, and they have different flavours brewed ready to taste at all times. I tried a “Hot Cinnamon Spice” and it had a real kick, a fabulous warming tea. When you have made your choice, they bring down the large black caddy, weigh out your amount and put it in a Harneys black zip lock bag.
30 years ago in Salisbury, Conneticut, proprietor of the historic White Hart Inn, John Harney developed a passion for fine teas. John was introduced to the world of tea by Stanley Mason, an experienced businessman in the world of tea.
John started production out of his basement in 1983. Serving his blends to guests at White Hart Inn. Now a global operation headquartered in Millerton, New York. Harneys employs over 155 people and remains a family owned and managed business with 3 generations employed in the sourcing, blending and managing the company.
The Tea House at the rear of the shop is quiet and intimate. A relaxing place to enjoy tea and a small sweet. Beautiful for morning or afternoon tea, a quiet jewel in a bustling city. I bought 3 of the organic blends, Soothing, Invigorating and Relaxing. Beautiful quality teas. Mmmmnnnnnn.
What a day. Everyone was so interested and welcoming. They all loved tea and were happy to talk about their teas at length. They let me take photos, and took photos of me for me. Made me have such a warm and fuzzy feeling about tea and the tea community………………… That is……… until I walked smiling and happy into
Palais Des Thes
194 Columbus Avenue
Upper West Side, NY
Pretty enough shop, small. You walk in and up stairs. I went to the counter and explained to the assistant what I was doing. I must have looked like a serious tea customer, my arms were full of tea shop bags, full to the brim. I asked if I could take a few photos for my blog, and the assistant most distainfully declined. I would have to call management, explain myself and wait for them to check with France. Could take a week. I was the only customer in the shop. Probably wouldn’t recommend this shop. I am sure the tea is good, but I left feeling very deflated, embarrassed and really uncomfortable. With the wind knocked out of my sails, and questioning going on, I decided to pull myself together and try……………..
Suns Organic Tea and Herb
79 Bayard Street
Suns Organic Teas and herbs is situated right in the middle of Chinatown, which is a must experience in itself. I had read a lot of reviews about this place and was super interested to see what it was like. The woman who owned the shop was a tiny little Chinese woman. The shop was small but filled to the ceiling with large glass jars. Each with a hand written note on the front in English. Although she had many different teas, her specialty was medicinal blends. I explained what I was doing and asked if I could take some photos. She was so engaging and even offered to take some photos for me.
She will tell you that her teas and herbs provide an Eastern alternative approach to pharmaceuticals to cure your ailment. I could have stayed and talked to her all afternoon. I spent a lot of time in her shop. She has tea for everything imaginable. She has a tea for relieving stress, sleeping soundly, waking up, detoxification, increasing concentration, giving up smoking, erectile dysfunction, menopause, PMS and more. She has more than 1000 kinds of teas. It is overwhelming. The owner has a wealth of knowledge, you tell her your particular ailment and if she doesn’t have exactly the right remedy, she will tweak one for you. I bought many teas, as medicinal teas are my passion. There are herbs in there I have never heard of before, and some incredibly rare ones too. One of the teas I bought was “Brainpower”, it had cardamom, ginseng, green tea, earl grey lavender and many other secret herbs. Loved this shop, amazing.
On the way back to my hotel, I got the Uber to drop me off at
864 Madison Avenue
As the Uber pulled up to the curb I thanked the Universe for Uber. I had so many bags, it would be a struggle to find my wallet and pay. I stepped out on to the street and before me was the most beautiful shop front. Beneath the green canopy was a window full of the most colourful and welcoming Macaroon Croquembouche. That’s probably not what they are called, they look like macaroon pyramids. Pastel coloured tubs full of tea, pastries to die for. I step into the little shop and I feel like I have stepped in to an exquisite old patisserie.
It all began in 1862 when Louis Ernest Laduree, a miller from the Southwest of France, founded a bakery in Paris at 16 rue Royale. In 1871, there was a fire in the bakery. The decoration of the new shop was entrusted to Jules Cheret, a famous turn-of-the-century painter. Louis Laduree is attributed with making the first Macaroon.
Laduree are famous for their exquisite teas. I bought one of each. And love them all.