With a Starbucks on every block (sometimes two!), New York is a convenient city for coffee addicts. However, an undeniable truth brews beneath the surface of this concrete jungle: tea is beloved here, too. Weary souls in search of a serene spot to relax and enjoy a comforting cup of tea and a little something sweet will surely find many options to satisfy their cravings. But the most fun is finding spots with more unconventional—and unforgettable—tea/dessert pairings.
Whether you’re a seasoned New Yorker or just in town for the holiday season, these options invite you to sip, nibble and think, “coffee who?” Unlike more traditional British afternoon tea locales in the city, none of these establishments require visitors to make reservations or adhere to prix fixe afternoon tea menus—which grants you the freedom to drop in whenever you want a quick tea-and-dessert fix. Remember that these are just suggestions—we encourage you to experiment with combinations of your own.
1. Pumpkin Scone + Christmas Tea from Alice’s Tea Cup
Alice’s Tea Cup invites folks of all ages to travel down the rabbit hole…and attend Mad Hatter’s tea party. Each of its three “chapters” (locations) features quirky character that would make Lewis Carroll himself proud—and the teas and scones are some of the best in town. Available year-round, the Christmas Tea is an Indian black tea that’s been blended with cinnamon, almonds, clove, and other comforting flavors. Pair it with a warm, fluffy pumpkin scone, and before long, you’ll be swimming in feel-good vibes.
2. Black Sesame Crème Brulee + Chiran Sencha from Cha-An
Flock to this beautiful tea house to get a taste of authentic Japanese teas and sweets. One of its most memorable desserts is a light and velvety black sesame crème brulee, topped with a scoop of black sesame ice cream and finished with a crisp black sesame tuile. Dive into its decadence between sips of Chiran sencha, a traditional Japanese tea with bright, slightly grassy flavors that cut nicely through the richness of this creamy, dreamy dessert.
3. Darjeeling Tart + Fuijan White Tea at Bosie Tea Parlor
It’s a lucky coincidence that Bosie rhymes with “cozy,” because there’s no better word to describe this cute-as-a-button establishment. Delicate, flowery Fuijan white tea plays a fantastic foil for the Darjeeling tart, a dessert that masterfully captures the subtle notes of a cup of milky, sweetened Darjeeling in every bite.
4. Halva Cookie + Milk Oolong at Physical Graffitea
Nestled underground on St. Marks, Physical Graffitea is a must-visit spot for tea aficionados. Sink your teeth into its halva cookie, a treat that might be described as the peanut butter cookie’s exotic, sophisticated cousin. Made with tahini, this chewy, two-bite-sized cookie is excellent with milk oolong tea, a blend that smells like walnuts and is made with pineapple, vanilla and orchid. Pure luxury that won’t spoil your dinner.
5. Carrot-Apple Muffin + Rooibos Chai at Two Little Red Hens
Anyone who’s tasted the bakery’s Brooklyn Blackout cupcakes knows that Two Little Red Hens takes American pastry classics to irresistible extremes. Its apple-carrot muffin is a moist and comforting treat that tastes like your grandmother baked it especially for you. Enjoy it with a cup of rooibos chai tea, which features a fruity, spice-infused flavor that mirrors and accentuates the muffin’s flavor profile.
Alice’s Tea Cup220 E. 81st St. (between 2nd and 3rd Ave.) plus various other locations
Cha-An230 E. 9th St. (btwn. 2nd Ave. and Cooper Sq.)
Bosie Tea Parlor10 Morton St. (between Bleecker & 7th Ave.)
Physical Graffitea96 St. Marks Pl. (between 1st Ave. and Ave. A)
Two Little Red Hens1652 2nd Ave. (between 85th and 86th St.)