You know when Starbucks gets into the tea business—its first Teavana Fine Teas & Tea Bar opened this past October on the Upper East Side with more planned across the country—that tea is big business. In fact, if you trust Wikipedia, the only thing that people globally drink more of than tea is water. So why not make it your business with either a company retreat to a local tea house (tea’s calming properties can make for a productive gathering) or an afternoon break complete with sandwiches, cakes, and biscuits? Loose leaf teas (as opposed to tea bags), which these boutiques are known for, are much more flavorful and robust in taste. Here are our picks for a different kind of Happy Hour.
235 Main St, White Plains (914) 428-1000; www.hastingstea.com
Expect custom-sourced premium natural and organic teas at this modern lounge and boutique store named after the beloved Rivertown where co-owner Joan Jia lives. Here, blended drinks infused with fresh ginger, honey, lemon, mint, and crushed fruit are as popular as the more than 15 different teas, many of which represent a region of the world (the US, Japan, India, China, and Africa). Along with the options of black, oolong, green, white, and herbal teas, you’ll also find a “lite” food menu, which includes gourmet salads, wraps, sandwiches, homemade soups, and fresh fruit salad. There is also a broad selection of pastries including traditional, gluten-free, and dairy-free products, many of which come from local bakeries. And for those who can’t do without, there’s also coffee. For corporations, the shop offers Joe to Go or Takeaway Tea ($12.95 for eight 12 oz teas) as well as a more formal afternoon tea service available upon request (price varies depending on the size of the party). A tableside tea service is also available, as are in-house events accommodating up to 40.
R Patisserie Café & Tea Boutique
302 Huguenot St, New Rochelle (914) 358-1841; www.rpatisserie.com
Love is poured into every cup at this cafe where owner John Reverol uses only “the best” organic teas. Loose leaves are put into a small bleach-free paper tea bag and Reverol himself designs each bag. In other words, he personally hand-selects the ingredients and blends (check out his Ginger Madness, the shop’s bestselling tea, served cold in the summer and hot in the winter). There are more than 15 different kinds of teas, most of which come from Colorado, Oregon, and Arizona. To accompany your warm cuppa love: quiches and turkey, Swiss, and green-apple sandwiches, as well as a variety of goodies from Balthazar Bakery in Soho. The three-year-old shop, which has the feeling of a homey Victorian parlor, does corporate events frequently, and can accommodate up to 25 people. The price depends on the logistics of the affair (but usually falls in the $15 to $35 price range per person) and is customized to your needs.
Silver Tips Tea
3 N Broadway, Tarrytown
(914) 332-8515; www.silvertipstea.com
The mission statement at Silver Tips is simple: to provide a perfect cup of tea. The shop is decorated to appeal to everyone—so is not too feminine in décor—with portion sizes designed to fill a hungry stomach. Because owner Anupa Mueller is a direct importer and originally from India (she went to school in Darjeeling), she has expansive expertise in tea. Her cheerful eatery features more than 150 varieties from all over the world (mainly India, China, Japan, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka), each steeped to perfection. (Our pick: the ever-fragrant and flavorful Jade Oolong.) Food choices include homemade soups (made fresh daily), salads, toasted tea sandwiches, samosas, wraps, scones, and desserts, including tarts and sticky toffee puddings. Opt for an in-house party (with seating for up to 36; pricing dependent on number of people), or a catered event at your choice of venues. Mueller can develop specific events for different companies/situations.
Kathleen’s Tea Room
979 Main St, Peekskill (914) 734-2520; www.kathleenstroom.com
In Westchester 15 years and counting, this Rivertown mainstay offers a sweetly cozy English experience complete with floral wallpaper, mismatched china, and loose teas that originate from China and India (for something unique, try the Lady Hannah’s Whole Fruit or Paris.) There are more than 50 different teas with a menu that includes soups, salads, and quiche. Afternoon tea is served every day and at any time of day with a host of assorted sandwiches, scones, crumpets, and petit fours, many of which come on a three-tiered serving dish, upping the elegance factor. Private parties can be arranged in-house for up to 48, as well as off-premises with unlimited guests. Prices start at $26 per person (and $15.95 per child).
Lola’s Tea House at Chocolations
607 E Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck (914) 777-3600; www.lolasteahouse.com
Chocolate and tea go together at Lola’s where you get the best of both worlds: more than 20 different teas from around the world (China, Japan, Africa, and India), along with house-made chocolate in a host of flavorful combinations (hello, chocolate-covered Oreos and sea salt caramel truffles). The shop, which was in Pelham for five years before merging with Chocolations two years ago, offers a formal afternoon tea experience on Saturdays from noon to 4 pm with a tea sandwich of choice (cucumber, egg salad, smoked salmon, or curry chicken salad); fruit salad; mixed greens with house dressing; a scone (with clotted cream and preserves); bite-sized desserts; and, of course, a two-cup pot of tea (try the Wolfberry). The shop, which seats 40 people comfortably, also offers a smaller snack option with two scones, small fruit salad, and a two-cup pot of tea. Prices range from $10 to $25, more for off-premise catered events. The shop prides itself on its range of offerings, which include a tea-tasting (tea and chocolate, or a tea and cheese pairing), a Tea 101 workshop, and holiday and community events.
Temptation Tea House
Looking for a more Eastern approach to tea? This Mount Kisco tea house includes a host of pan-Asian tapas and entrées, from spring rolls to samosas, along with delicious bubble teas and exotic brews. The menu devotes whole sections to tea with a Chinese- and Japanese-Style Premium Tea section offering varieties like pearl jasmine and rose flower, plus a Fruit Green Tea series (i.e., passion fruit, mango); a Black Tea selection (i.e., lychee, Peter Pan); and Frothy Tea with pearl tapioca options (i.e., blackberry green tea milk and tapioca, almond black milk tea and tapioca), served hot or cold, where the base of the beverage is tea and tapioca and other flavorings are added. There is no afternoon tea service but tea is served all day and there is plenty of space for in-house events.