Sipping tea is often linked with grandeur, but you don’t have to be in the lobby of a formal hotel, gazing into a platter of petits fours, to enjoy high-quality leaves. Here are some of our favorite stylish, chic spots to drink tea.By Kristine Hansen
Bungalow Coffee and Tea
Santa Rosa, California
Naturally, a wine-country beverage stop is not going to compromise on taste and quality, especially this one owned by Jake Whiteley, whose tea knowledge stems from his travels throughout Europe and Asia. Try rare blends like Dragon Phoenix Pearl or book a tea tasting ($20), all the while enjoying the bungalow-like interior with skylights, rotating artwork, and an Arts-and-Crafts aesthetic.
540 Larkfield Center
Janam Indian Tea Shop
Jersey City, New Jersey
Owner Amy Dubin travels straight to the origin to procure a line of single-estate teas from India, and she loves to introduce them to others through events and tastings inside her colorful (fuchsia and turquoise) shop.
353 Grove Street
Mandala Tea Room
Jennifer Miranda likes to preach organic health inside and out — her tearoom is attached to an apothecary shop, which she also owns. All her teas are either biodynamic or certified organic, and she even offers a vegan and organic menu. The tearoom’s interior has relaxing touches of lime green and chocolate brown. A weekend brunch offers Hopi blue-corn griddle cakes, continental-breakfast platters (traditional, macro, and raw), and more.
7027 East Fifth Avenue
San Antonio, Texas
Sporting cherry-red decor and a series of black-and-white photographs hanging on the walls, this corner storefront on Houston Street is great for people-watching while you sip your tea. Pair it with a panini or a pastry, your choice. Cousin restaurant Le Reve took the number-four spot on Gourmet’s list of the top 50 restaurants in 2006, and Sip is just as delicious, inside and out.
160 East Houston Street
The Asian-inspired interior of one of the capital’s first teahouses gives rise to a desire to taste the entire continent’s array of choices. Afternoon tea ($20, either Asian or traditional) is served weekdays from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Lafayette location; Japanese bento boxes, breakfast, Asian desserts (including mochi), and more are available at all three locations.
New York City
Originally founded by musician Moby and his friend Kelly Tisdale, this lower-level tearoom with walls the color of lime sherbet and white painted bricks serves a whopping 100-plus varieties of tea. (Tisdale runs the place now.) Vegan cakes, sandwiches, English Heinz beans on toast, afternoon tea ($22), and an all-day breakfast are on the café menu.
90 Rivington Street