Saturday Tea at Harney & Son's SoHo

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This past weekend my boyfriend and I stopped into Harney & Son's SoHo shop for a spot of tea. He isn't really a tea person but I'm slowly converting him to the dark side. The cafe was very crowded but we were able to grab two seats at the tea bar. Jason was a bit overwhelmed by the large tea menu but he insisted on making his selection without any assistance. It's been interesting to watch his development as a tea drinker since he's more of a coffee kind of guy.

He opted for the Choco Nut, a flavored black tea, along with a wedding almond and peanut butter macaroon. I selected Scent of the Mountains, an unflavored sencha green tea, as well as a lavender and matcha macaroon. Jason did quite well with his selection. It was very chocolaty and paired perfectly with his macaroons. I've had Scent of the Mountains several times before and it's a sweet, vegetal and comforting cup of tea. The staff here is friendly and attentive, but a little harried.

In trying each other's teas we discovered that Jason absolutely hates sencha. I'm still trying to put my finger on what is that causes his disdain but I believe it is the grassy element. So far he has not been a fan of any floral or grassy teas that he has tried. He does enjoy most black teas and he has discovered a love for Darjeeling and Chai. Tea will never be a passion for him as it is for me but it is nice to be able to share a pot of tea from time to time. Does your significant other indulge in tea with you? How do their tastes differ from yours? I'd love to hear about it!

Tea Places: La Maison du Macaron

I have been craving macaroons lately but hadn't been able to get to New York due to all of the craziness caused by Hurricane Sandy. I finally made the trek yesterday and stopped into La Maison du Macaron on west 23rd street. The cozy little shop had a rainbow colored case full of delicious sounding pastries. Their tea menu was small but I loved that they noted which estates and regions each tea was from. I selected the sencha along with three macaroons (pumpkin, pink champagne and lavender).

The seating area was small and a little crowded but comfortable. The staff was friendly but a little harried as the shop was fairly busy. My sencha was loose leaf but was served in a large fill-your-own style tea bag. I didn't mind because there was plenty of room for the leaves to expand. It was vegetal, sweet and the perfect day for a beautiful fall day. Macaroons are always expensive but sometimes it's nice to indulge a little, especially when tea is involved. I used to work really close to this location and it's a good thing they were not open back then because I would have been broke! I'll definitely be returning the next time I am in the area.

You can find out more about La Maison du Macaron here.

Tea Places: Teavana Lexington Avenue

It's been open for a few months but I finally had a chance to stop by Teavana's new Lexington Avenue location. While I'm not a frequent customer of this particular retail chain, I was inclined to stop in since this is their first Manhattan shop. While a little on the small side, the interior was airy and well organized. Teavana is known for its pushy salespeople but I found the staff here friendly and unobtrusive. Being on a busy corner in the Upper East Side, they probably don't need to resort to the same sales tactics as a mall based location.

I picked up a copy of The Tea Companion by Jane Pettigrew (review coming) as well as a Taylor tea thermometer to replace one that I had broken. I fought multiple urges to buy any teaware because I'm generally out of shelf space. Before leaving I got a cup of dragonwell to go. While I tried hard not to make a face when asked if I would like it to be sweetened, it was well prepared and delicious. I'm rarely in that part of town but I won't hesitate to stop in again.

Tea Places: Bosie Tea Parlor

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I was recently invited to a tweetup at Bosie Tea Parlor. It was named after a lover of Oscar Wilde and is nestled in the West Village of New York City. This hidden gem combines both the French and British high tea service into a truly decadent culinary, tea themed adventure. The owner, Nicky Dawda, was very knowledgeable and he explained how they source their teas and how their pastries are made. They are one of the few places I've been to who have a tea master on staff. Kiley Holliday is the youngest female Tea Master in the U.S. Their pastry chef, Damien Herrgott, was recently named one of the top ten pastry chefs in Amercan by the Dessert Professional magazine so I knew that I was in for a real treat.

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Our welcome cocktail was a delicious Apple Berry Bliss Tea-mosa. It was made with prosecco, strawberry puree and an apple and hibiscus tea. This was the first tea cocktail that I've ever had but it is definitely something I want to explore more.

The first course consisted of tea sandwiches. They were simple yet tasty. The three flavors we were offered were egg salad, curried chicken and cucumber with cream cheese and dill.

Next came a course of mini quiches. The Lorraine were my favorite since they had bacon :)

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An assortment of decadent desserts followed. My favorite was the Isaphan which was made from rose macaroon, rose butter-cream and lychee topped with the juiciest raspberry I've ever seen.

As if all of that wasn't enough, we were offered a plate of amazing macaroons along with cups of plum oolong and chocolate mint rooibos.

Although the others in attendance were not tea bloggers there was still plenty of talk about my favorite subject. I definitely have to thank Charu from Butterfly Diary for inviting me and Bosie Tea Parlor for being such gracious hosts. I cannot wait to bring my boyfriend here for brunch as Nicky's description of their french toast made my mouth water.

You can find out more about them here.

Tea Places: Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company

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One of the things I love about NYC is that sometimes I'll stumble upon awesome tea shops that are right under my nose. That is exactly what happened when I found Sullivan Street Tea & Spice Company. I had just had dinner at my favorite sandwich spot, Peanut Butter & Co. when I spotted this sweet little shop just down the block. I've been in this neighborhood many times but had never spotted this store until that day. Right away I loved the historic store front and rustic furnishings. Apparently, it was a mob hangout many years ago. How cool is that? There was a lot of space to walk around which was great since I can be a bit of a bull in a China shop.

In addition to an extensive tea list, this place is a foodie's dream. They had every spice that you could think of and even some that I had never heard of. The owner was pleasant and knowledgeable. I have a habit of wandering tea shops lost in my own little tea world and he just let me do my thing. They were having a tea tasting the next day but unfortunately, I was unable to attend. I picked up some milk oolong and a much searched for a bottle of tea seed oil. That's right, cooking oil made from Camellia Sinensis seeds! Reviews for both will be coming soon. I found a great write up about them from the New York Times but you can also find out more about them on their website. If you are ever in the Village and looking for something a little different than your standard chain stores, I definitely suggest checking this place out.

Tea Places: Ten Ren Lafayette

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On a recent trip to NYC I happened upon a little tea shop, Ten Ren's Tea and Ginseng Co., at 138 Lafayette Street. It was small but well stocked with many different kinds of Chinese and Japanese tea. There was also plenty of herbal teas such as Ku Ding, lavender and ginseng. They served bubble tea but I didn't partake since that isn't really my thing.

The staff was quiet and unobtrusive. I wasn't in a buying mood that day and they just let me do my thing. I was most attracted by the teaware. They had a small army of yixing pots that were fairly inexpensive, especially for the city. I was also very excited by the tiny gaiwans that I spotted in a glass case. There was a station with a table that is presumably used for tea ceremonies. I'm really curious to see their other locations and will definitely be trying to stop in again soon.