NYC's Hottest New Tea Shops and Cafes

By Patty Lee  |  January 7, 2015
Credit: MatchaBar/NickDigital.com

The city’s new favorite green drink isn’t some newfangled juice — it’s matcha, an antioxidant-packed tea made from finely milled leaves. As New Yorkers seek out healthier ways to get their caffeine fix, teas are now taking their turn in the spotlight, resulting in a new crop of shops and cafes all over town. Navigate NYC's burgeoning tea trend with our guide below.

  • Tea Shop Takeover

    A new wave of tea shops from abroad are changing how New Yorkers seek out tea. Forget the stuff on supermarket shelves — stores like France's posh Palais des Thes supply a wide assortment that customers can sniff and sample before purchasing. ​For one of the most unique collections, head to Greenpoint, where London import Bellocq sells organic teas sourced from small producers. The newest of the bunch is the Willy Wonka-esque T2 Tea (pictured), an Australian outlet that stocks more than 200 global varieties in colorful boxes that are stacked from floor to ceiling.

  • Serious Teahouses

    Sensing a growing interest in the craft, several new teahouses have popped up, offering classes that go way beyond dunking a tea bag in hot water. Tea Drunk in the East Village schools drinkers on the difference between various plants and brewing methods, while also hosting "Tuesday Tea-Offs." T Shop, a quiet sanctuary in NoLita, has tastings for both novices and connoisseurs, featuring Chinese and Taiwanese varietals chosen by owner Theresa Wong. For the most personalized and intimate experience, book a one-on-one with The Mandarin's Tea Room's Timothy Hsu, who will tailor to your tastes and knowledge level.  

  • Matcha Specialists

    New Yorkers looking for a healthier, but still caffeinated, alternative to coffee have given rise to cafes focused entirely on energy-boosting matcha. Both Williamsburg's MatchaBar — the first of its kind in the U.S. — and the recently opened Chalait (pictured) use the finely ground tea in various drinks like lattes and cold brews and also in sweets. For a more old-school affair, head to the only stateside outpost of 300-year-old Japanese purveyor Ippodo Tea Co. Tucked away in a Murray Hill townhouse, the wood-paneled oasis​ sells some of the finest green teas found in Kyoto, ranging from light and sweet sencha to matcha powder that on-site experts will whisk into frothy drinks.

  • Credit: Patty Lee

    High Tea Comeback

    Afternoon tea is no longer a stuffy, old lady affair. Younger crowds are taking to the midday repast as cafes and restaurants have updated offerings to fit their tastes. At the newly reopened Palm Court (pictured), towers of mini-sandwiches and delicate pastries can be paired with handcrafted cocktails or wines by the glass, while Ladurée Soho — with its dainty macarons and ornate Parisian decor — is an Instagrammer's paradise. In the West Village, Presstea is a draw for its casual, reservations-only tea. There's no fussy table service — drinks come in plastic cups and savory options include the buzzed-about Ramenritto.