An NYC Afternoon of Tea and Friendship

I live in a quiet little corner of New Jersey. It's not always perfect but it does have the advantage of easy travel to NYC. I am also lucky enough to have a small tribe of wonderful women there who all love the leaf as much as I do. From time to time an email will go out like the Bat-Signal, gathering us all together for tea.

We started our day off at La Colombe Coffee Roasters' Chelsea location. Alexis from Teaspoons & Petals is their tea consultant and we were all excited to see the debut of their newest tea offering, Silverton pour over Matcha Gyokyro! The Silverton pour over brewers they had in the cafe are seriously drool-worthy. I don't need one...but I definitely want one after seeing them in action. My cup was expertly brewed, a perfect blend of everything that I love about both matcha and gyokuro. This is definitely one to check out if you are ever in one of their cafes that offer it. Once we had all gotten our fix at La Colombe, it was time to hop in an Uber to the International Culinary Center.

 Pour Over Matcha Gyokuro at La Colombe

Pour Over Matcha Gyokuro at La Colombe

The International Culinary Center was kind enough to allow us to hold a small tea party in their library. Surrounded by beautiful books and wonderful friends, my senses were quite overwhelmed. Keiko from Rishi Tea put together an incredible exploration of Japanese green teas. I was particularly excited to have the chance to compare different teas. Yabukita is by far the most prevalent cultivar so my not-so-inner tea nerd was ready to really dig into teas made with Okumidori, Saemidori, and Machiko.

 So many delicious teas to taste!

So many delicious teas to taste!

One thing that our group has in common other than tea is that we all have a bit of a sweet tooth. Not only did she lay out a beautiful table but Keiko also tempted us with delicious mochi and macarons. Darlene also surprised us all with raspberry flavored Kit Kats, a perfect accompaniment for all of the matcha that we were drinking. The black lilies made for a really striking visual and I'm still admiring one in a vase on my kitchen table as I'm writing this post.

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The Shincha Machiko was a definite standout for me. I tried it at a previous tasting and enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Machiko is a cultivar known for its unique cherry blossom aroma. Although the entire tasting consisted only of Japanese green teas, they were each distinctive and unique. Vertical and horizontal comparisons help to increase our understanding of tea. I highly recommend putting together a similar menu of your own if the opportunity ever presents itself.

Needless to say, I was more than a bit tea drunk by the time we were finished. That didn't stop me from wandering over to T Shop afterward with Jo. After sharing many sips of Yu Shan oolong (anything but green tea!), I was ready for the train ride(s) home.

I'll be sure to link to other blog posts about our gathering here:

Flights of Fancy - Tea Happiness

Rishi Tea, Rediscovering a Brand - Scandalous Tea

Rishi Tea Flight Tasting - Notes on Tea

Do you have a favorite kind of Japanese green tea? Let me know about it in the comments!

A Walk In The Village

A few months ago I was invited on a walking food tour of the GreenwichVillage by my friend Mario. You might know him from his web series, On the Go with Mario. Terri from Try Anything Once also joined in on the fun. The tour was given by Adriana Trigini Tours. Our guide Nikki was knowledgeable, fun and fabulous. It was quite an experience and I definitely recommend it if you are ever visiting New York City (or even if you are a local).

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Our first stop of the day was Il Cantuccio, a traditional Italian bakery and sandwich shop. They specialize in contucci, a biscotti-like creation from the city of Prato. The chocolate and fig flavored ones were to die for. While we enjoyed our cookies, we were able to watch their artisans at work as they crafted handmade focaccia bread. I enjoyed a cup of Numi jasmine green tea at this stop.

 

 

Right next door we were treated to some amazing Swedish candy at Sockerbit. This was not a run of the mill candy shop. The entire space was blindingly white and sparkling clean. The brightly colored candy and friendly owners made it especially cheerful. Everything we tasted was delicious but my favorite was probably the salted licorice.

The next stop was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture of it! We had these amazing arancini (balls of cheese and rice that were breaded and fried) and soppressata (a spicy cured meat) at Faiccio's Italian Specialties. The shop was too small for us to explore inside but I will definitely be returning. According to their sign, they have been there for over 100 years. I have walked past this place many times and never noticed it until our stop on the tour. It goes to show that there are gems hiding under our noses every day.

 

As if all of that wasn't enough, we feasted on brick oven pizza at Numero 28 Pizzeria. I live in the land of pizza in New Jersey but I have never had anything quite like this. It was doughy, yet light and altogether incredibly delicious. I was amazed at how little grease there was. 

In addition to all of the amazing food, we also got to see some wonderful sights that we might not have noticed otherwise. There were so many secret gardens tucked behind the brownstones and old fashioned buildings. We also spotted the building that was used as the outside of Monica's apartment on the sitcom Friends! The best thing about the walking tour was that we took our time and noticed things that we would never have seen otherwise. It was a great break from the usual hustle and bustle of the city. I felt like I wasn't even in Manhattan.

 

 

 

 

 

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For dessert, we stopped into Popbar for some delicious gelato on a stick. I had the banana with dark chocolate and it was heavenly. I was amazed at how creamy yet light it was. I also picked up a couple of tea sticks while we were there. My review of the Pomegranate White Tea is already posted and there will be an upcoming one about the Jasmine Green Tea soon.

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Mario is a tea lover like myself so our last stop of the day was McNulty's Tea & Cofee Co. This place was like stepping into a time machine. When you order your tea it is hand measured on an old fashioned scale and your bag is stamped with a rubber stamp. Every tea is displayed in large glass jars. It was a truly sensory experience as everyone in the group shared which ones they thought smelled amazing.

I'd really like to thank Mario and Adriana Trigini Tours for a really great day. Make sure to watch the video of episode seven of On the Go with Mario below, you'll spot me in a few scenes :)