Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Radiance Tea House, New York, NY

I've been meaning to go to Radiance Tea House for the past couple of year, but only this Sunday did I finally make it out to the tearoom. Located on 158 West 55th St, between 6th and 7th Avenues, Radiance is an East Asian Tea House with an extensive tea room and a focus on the Eastern tradition of enjoying tea in a tranquil surrounding.

My friend and I arrived at around 11:30 this past Sunday afternoon and there were only a few other sippers, so we mostly had the place to ourselves. The room is bright and open, with wooden floors, wooden chairs and tables, and plenty of Chinese teapots and cups on display on shelves throughout the space. I particularly like the tea brewing station set up in the middle of the shop. There is also a bookstore/gift shop within the space selling books on tea, teapots, and Radiance Tea House's own blends that you can browse after you finish your tea and snacks.

Although I really wanted to try the purple yam latte, I wasn't really in the mood for something milky and sweet, and I was so taken with the vast variety of tea on the menu. I decided to go for a Pu'er, settling on the Tuo Cha (Bird's Nest) tea. Radiance describes this tea as a "A traditional cooked pu’er that is brisk, smooth and earthy, giving the body and clean and detox feeling." The tea arrived in a Yellow Dragon Chinese teapot with an accompanying white teacup and was poured for me tableside. My first sips revealed that earth flavor with notes of smooth sweetness and a very clean taste. I really loved it. I haven't been drinking as much Chinese tea lately, so this was a good remember of why I should get back on that. My friend ordered the Southern Joy Iced Tea, "Radiance Classic Black, fresh lemon, rock sugar" mixed together for a tart and sweet iced tea.

Tuo Cha

Southern Joy

To pair with our tea we got some small dim sum. What they call "soupy pork dumplings" are similar to Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao. The dumplings were good, but they were lacking in soup and were too small. And for the price, I could certainly get more and better Xiao Long Bao in Chinatown. We also ate sticky rice filled with pork which was fine, but nothing special. The portions are small and rather expensive, for what you get. Still, it is important to have snacks with your tea and the food is quite nice. I think next time I'll go for sweets and order the green tea scone.

Xiao Long Bao

Sticky Rice in Banana Leaf

All in all, I had a very enjoyable experience at Radiance and I look forward to returning. The service was friendly and attentive, the room is beautiful, the tea is delicious and the menu is extensive, and they let you linger as long as you like. All qualities that make up a fine tea room. For your own bit of serenity from the hustle and bustle of midtown, visit Radiance.