Here are two recent cups of tea I really enjoyed:
This is a pumpkin spice iced chai from It's a Grind Coffehouse, located in Plainsboro, New Jersey. One of my hometown coffeshops, It's a Grind has always made a really exceptional chai. There is no reason it wouldn't be even better with pumpkin. This is a gift from the gods in all of their orange, pumpkinlicious glory!
This is a simple chinatown milk tea from my local bakery on Hester St. The proprietor makes the cup extremely quickly and for 80 cents, you can't do much better. The red tag reads "Hong Kong Style Red Tea", however it is definitely not Rooibos. This is a Hong Kong Black mixed with milk and sugar in the Chinese fashion. Quite a tasty morning treat!
Monday, October 25, 2010
I've been going to The Adore (say tea in French) for quite some time now, so I'm surprised I haven't written anything yet on this gem of a tearoom hidden away on 13th street between University and 5th. This little hideaway is actually very unique. All over Japan, there are little French-style tearooms serving up pots of tea alongside French patisseries and savouries. Many of the french style baked goods and lunch dishes have a Japanese style twist, namely cuteness and perfect presentation. The Adore is one of these Japanese wonders, but here's the kicker, it's located in Greenwich Village. I love taking newbies over to The Adore, regaling them with the fact that we are going to a French tearoom, owned and operated in a Japanese style, located in New York City. There is something just oh-so-awesome about that multiculturalism.
The place itself is tiny, so I try to avoid extremely busy lunch hours. Some of my favorite hours are bright and early, just as the sun rises to take in their continental breakfast special, which includes a pot of tea, a croissant, and toasted baguette with butter and jam all for a very reasonable price. The room itself is adorable. The downstairs is a bakery display and take out counter where you can get your fruit tarts and scones or mini sandwiches with a cup of tea to go. Venture up the staircase (gracefully darting past the customers waiting for their downstairs orders) and you'll find yourself in a very rustic and homey environment. Wooden tables and chairs grace a lovely little space ending in a giant picture window that overlooks 13th st, however you'd never know you were in Manhattan looking out the window. There is a beautiful old tree that brushes up against the glass. Each table is adorned with a fresh flower and the menus are on delicate paper.
The tea menu is extensive. All of the teas are imported Mariage Freres brand, one of the highest quality teas in France, and in the world. I am never disappointed with this tea, and although I own a tin of MF Darjeeling, I try to save it for very special occasions as buying it comes at a high price. At The Adore however, four to six dollars. This price may seem relatively high, but this is a very fine tea and is worth each dollar. I of course usually order one of the two Assams. I enjoy both, but the Sankar is a maltier blend than the meleng. I have also tried most of the Ceylons, which are terrific and full of taste. The Marco Polo is one of Mariage Frere's most popular blends, and although I don't like fruity teas, I don't mind the burst of flavor that highlights this particular black blend. For the non tea drinkers, there is a wide variety of coffee options that always arrive at tables looking very appetizing. They are served in bowls, like in French cafes.
The food is also delicious! On a recent visit I enjoyed a light salad with fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, in a vinaigrette. My go to order is the croque madame (ham, cheese, and a sunnyside up egg) and I also love the ham and brie on baguette. The baguette at The Adore is simply amazing. One of the best in the city. You can order it on its own also, and it always comes toasted and hot. Crispy and full of that good bready flavor. Ah. Their soups are also all homemade and very good.
If you still have room for dessert, try their madeleines. They are oversized and generously priced. Their scones are sweet and crumbly, and if you are in a more indulgent mood, try something like cheesecake or a raspberry tart.
This is a great place to unwind, relax and bring a book. Enjoy your tea time and really reflect on your life. After all, that's part of what tea is about!
*The Adore is a cash-only establishment, so make sure you visit the ATM before coming.
Posted by Ethan Nicholas at 10:37 PM
Nothing like a nice cup of my favorite blend, Assam, to start you off in the morning. This is a first estate Assam that I was lucky enough to find at a little Syracuse breakfast joint, Funk N Waffles. The Assam was full-bodied and hearty with a really delicate and malty aftertaste. It paired very well with milk and sugar, and was certainly not an overly pretentious leaf. The restaurant has a nice selection of loose-leaf tea to go with your morning indulgence. If you are curious, I ordered a buckwheat waffle with chocolate chips and peanut butter. It was delicious!
Posted by Ethan Nicholas at 8:21 AM
Monday, October 11, 2010
Shari Titterton, owner and tea connoisseur, a native of England, greeted us with a warm smile and showed us to our seats. Shari is as passionate a tea lover as any of us and it shows. Her warm and gentle nature, joined with her knowledge and expertise has helped her to create a top-rate tea room in a pocket of Pennsylvania. The room is painted in soft hues and fine China and tea-related pieces adorn the walls and mantle-place. It feels like you are sitting in your English mother or grandmother's drawing room. I loved it from the start.
At our tables, wine glasses of ice water were waiting. The table was preset with Royal Albert China, my cup being a particularly gorgeous design. The teapot napkin holders were absolutely enchanting and I was slowly falling in love with the silverware. My mother and I chatted about the lovely atmosphere and the pleasantries of the day. In no time at all, Shari rang a bell and tea service began! Shari explained the two types of teas that would be served that day during tea-time, Lily's Delight and a Lemon Rooibos. After a brief introduction the piping hot tea came out!
The service started out with a cheesy vegetable soup served in a very nice gold and pink laced bowl. The soup was excellent and despite wanting to save room for the three tiers to follow, I couldn't resist finishing every drop. After the bowls were cleared, our magnificent three-tiered server arrived with all the necessaries for a splendid afternoon tea. We continued the savoury course and began from the top of the server with sandwiches. All the perfect teatime amenities, we enjoyed cucumber, turkey, chicken salad, and mini quiches. I always appreciate a finely cut cucumber and this was no exception. Perfectly sliced to form a finger sandwich worth remembering.
Tea was changed over as we began to tuck in to the scones course. Shari brightly explained the large extras bowl, a place where we could dump our first brew if we had any extra so our cups were ready to receive the rooibos, steaming hot. At this time, I also had the pleasure to begin chatting with Shari about tea and her experiences working at Tea with an Accent and traveling and trying other tearooms. She had so much to say and I was so glad to talk to her. A kindred tea spirit! She made me and my mother feel so welcome, and I felt as though I was talking to an old friend, not someone I had just met.
And on to the sweets! We were both feeling pretty full at this point, but some amazing variety awaited us. They were all phenomenal miniatures! There were earl-grey cookies, jam crumbles, lemon curd tartlets, petit-fours, and chocolate mousse tarts in a dark chocolate shell. The mousse cups were my mother's absolute favorite and although I loved them as well, my heart and soul were with the petit fours which were out of this world! My mother even let me have the second half of hers after she saw how much I enjoyed it. We couldn't finish it all, but luckily Shari brought us a little box to wrap everything else up in.
Posted by Ethan Nicholas at 8:15 PM
Monday, October 4, 2010
Okay, if you read my blog enough, you know that although I will always promote the high-end, good quality teas, there is a place in my heart for the lesser varieties...even if that means visiting Starbucks every now and then. Their matcha lattes are not bad, and I have always been a fan of their chai.
It's at this time of the year when I get super excited, because the pumpkin spice flavoring, a seasonal addition, is back at Starbucks locations across the city. On this brisk, rainy evening, before my 9 PM meeting, I stopped in at the Washington Square location for my autumnal favorite: a tall pumpkin spice chai tea latte. The complex flavors of Fall are all present: ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, clover, and of course pumpkin. These robust spices are combined with milk and tea for a robust combo that leaves a light tingle on your tongue. Although the cold is already getting to me, at least I have a nice hot beverage to quell those cold-day blues!
Posted by Ethan Nicholas at 10:54 PM
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I've been exploring my neighborhood more and more lately, and every Friday morning, I'm trying to try a new place for Chinese breakfast. This past Friday I went to Big Wing Wong on Mott Street for a hot bowl of shrimp congee and youtiao (fried cruellers).
One thing many of us take for granted when entering almost any Chinese establishment is the excess of tea streaming from a giant metal carafe into your cup, be it little Chinese bowl or regular water glass. In the morning, you will usually receive the latter. At Big Wing Wong for breakfast, I took time to reflect on the Chinese tea culture, and its centrality to life. The tea you will inevitably be given is a simple Oolong Cha, a tea not fully oxidized, falling somewhere between the categories of green and black. I have recently begun to appreciate a nice Oolong more and more.
At Big Wing Wong, my cup was always filled, with a very nice, light and refreshing Oolong. The flavor was crisp, but not overly powerful. And there is something so nice in looking around and seeing all the other patrons sipping on the same tea, from the same pot in their own little water glasses. Tea is everywhere and unites people, and this particular Friday morning, I was certainly reminded of that.
The Oolong selection from China is extensive and varied and easily available for purchase at any Chinese grocery in the neighborhood. Pick up your own box today...or have any meal at a restaurant in the area!
Posted by Ethan Nicholas at 11:19 AM