Students are always buzzing about studying in coffee shops, but not everyone is about that kind of caffeine. Here are some noteworthy destinations for the tea lovers out there, covering every occasion from solo studying to an adorable afternoon with friends.
For an Afternoon Snack: Bao Tea House ($)
140 W. Fourth St.
Practically on campus, Bao Tea House is ideal for snacking and studying between classes if Peet’s Coffee is getting old. This hidden gem serves savory bao alongside organic Taiwanese milk teas with the option of milk alternatives. The drinks combine floral notes with grapefruit, peach and passion fruit for delicate yet interesting flavors. The iced jasmine peach milk tea ($4.50) I had was slightly floral, not too sweet and topped with a thick layer of milk foam. If you’re a fan of boba but want to mix things up, Bao Tea House’s menu is for you.
For a Tea Connoisseur: Luv Tea ($$)
37A Bedford St.
Just off of MacDougal Street, Luv Tea takes its craft seriously. Its menu includes ceremony-grade Taiwanese tea, served hot or cold. The staff is knowledgeable if you want to try something new, and they even offer tea ceremonies and classes if you feel motivated to step up your tea game.
At $6, the iced jasmine honey milk tea is the cheapest thing on the menu and strong in a good way. Luv Tea’s clean white interior also makes it a mellow place to work, but fair warning: there’s no WiFi.
For Warm Winter Spices: The Chai Spot ($$)
156 Mott St.
On the edge of Little Italy, The Chai Spot has an authentic Indo-Pakistani atmosphere. The beverages here are made traditionally — much less sweet than coffee shop syrup and served in glasses instead of mugs. The coconut rose ($6.50) and traditional cardamom chai ($6.50) were both too heavily spiced for me, but if your goal is to try bold flavors, they’re sure to please.
The Chai Spot’s uniqueness is all in the details. You pass through a small shop stocked with Lay’s “India’s Magic Masala” potato chips and embroidered clothes before removing your shoes to enter a vibrant lounge. There, you can sit on a comfy pillow and peruse the complementary books, board games and musical instruments while listening to Bollywood soundtracks. If you’re looking for a colorful hangout on a dreary day, it’s worth checking out.
For the ‘Gram: Blank Slate Tea ($$)
121 Madison Ave.
There’s no place pinker or more Instagrammable than Blank Slate Tea in NoMad. This contemporary tea house serves matcha lattes with floral syrups as well as classic hot and iced teas. Blank Slate also offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu. Though the rose latte ($4.50) fell flat (it’s basically flowery milk), ordering a simple hot tea to stay is a safe bet, and you’ll even get your own teapot. If you’re feeling fancy, bring a friend and share a proper dessert tier for $30 — easily one of the best afternoon tea deals you’ll find in Manhattan.
For a Classy (and Cozy!) Date: Tea and Sympathy ($$)
108 Greenwich Ave.
Tea & Sympathy is a tiny West Village institution boasting traditional English afternoon tea. Though the full nine yards is pricey, bringing a date or a couple of friends and ordering tea and scones should get the job done. Like Blank Slate, Tea and Sympathy gives you adorable teapots, and the jam and clotted cream are the real deal. The cafe is attached to a tea shop for loose leaf tea and paraphernalia. It’s a sophisticated way to treat yourself.
Email Sabrina Choudhary at [email protected]