It dawned on me today that I haven’t written much about things not book related in a while. I mean…you can never go wrong talking about books, let’s not kid ourselves. However, I feel like I need to share more about my other loves. This post is all about the tea.
Every writer has some sort of habit or ritual they do before, during or after they write. William Faulkner would drink a great deal of whiskey when writing, and Vladimir Nabokov wrote most of his novels on 3″ x 5″ index cards. The most important habit I have when I sit down to write is I must have a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter if it’s iced or hot. Every essay, post, short story and (possible) manuscript I have ever written in my adult life has been accompanied by a cup of tea. In the earlier days I strictly drank black or green tea, but I’ve expanded my tea palate to match the mood in which I intend to write. When I am gearing up to write a fast pace, exciting scene I will drink some kind of flavored black tea, like strawberry rhubarb or chocolate, for the caffeine. The slower scenes I can go for a fruity herbal tea such as blueberry or grape oolong. The built-up scenes I like to mix it up with unique flavors to keep me sharp on the details, like iced pineapple or cranberry-blood orange.
Twinings and Celestial Seasonings are my favorite brands to buy at the grocery store. They come in many varieties and have a great lasting taste, unlike some brands (Lipton). As you might have guessed, I don’t just buy tea in bags, I also buy loose leaf tea. If you are lucky enough to live in/around New York City or you’re coming to visit, here are a few places I highly recommend if you love tea as much as I do.
Tea and Sympathy
Tea and Sympathy is a charming British restaurant in Greenwich Village. They have a killer English menu and never fail to make a stunning cup of tea so delicious you’ll go right next door to buy some out of their shop. My favorite flavor so far was a peach tea I had with some shepherd’s pie. They are always packed, but the wait isn’t very long and is so worth it.
Alice’s Tea Cup
Their unique style of mismatch tea settings and Cheshire murals will remind you of the Mad Tea Party while you sip on one of their many flavors of tea. The food menu has traditional dishes with a gourmet twist, while the tea menu has almost any blend you can think of. Brewed to perfection, they even pour it for you! So far my favorite flavor is ‘Alice’s Tea’ which contains Indian black Vanilla Tea with green tea and rose petals. So yummy. They have a few locations, and take reservations up to 24 hours before, so your chances are better on a table, but prepare yourself for quite a wait if you do not have reservations. The best part is you can buy the tea you want, and maybe one of their famous scones, to have at home.
Marie Belle specializes in fine chocolates, not so much in teas, but if you are looking for an amazing chocolate tea, look no further. I’ve never had a problem being seated immediately in the back cafe of the Soho location, and the serve has been friendly and quick.
The ‘on the rise’ tea company has been expanding all over the country, so this is not a New York only tea hub. In the style of an on-the-go cafe, Argo offers some of the most interesting tea drinks I’ve seen. Everything from sparkling fruit teas to white chocolate infused red teas. The selection of teas both in the cafe and for sale is refreshing to see. There is a tea available for any palate. My favorites include Carolina Honey and the green jasmine tea.
As far a loose leaf tea goes, Teavana takes the cake for me. You’ve probably heard the name recently because they were bought by Starbucks not to long ago. They have been branching into the cafe business, but their original tea shops are incredible! They are sincerely dedicated to the art of tea. Their vast blends have a jaw dropping affect for any tea lover, and I was very pleased by the staff in the locations I’ve been in. If anyone can talk to me on the same level of tea knowledge that I have, along with full-bodied flavors, I’m sold. I will not lie to you, Teavana is very expensive comparatively, but if you pay attention to how you are buying then the Pineapple Kona Pop and Blood Orange Sorbet Oolong are so worth it.
As I write this I am drinking a glass of mint chocolate rooibbos, haha. It’s quite refreshing on a warm day like this with a hot lap top on your knees. Go forth and drink tea!
I’d like to hear if anyone has tried or plans of trying any of these awesome tea places. Leave me a comment to let me know what you thought!