RealiTEA: Sip in the CiTEA

If you're planning a trip to New York City this year - business or pleasure - take in a meal or even a high tea at one of the Big Apple's tea-friendly restaurants. The NY Times today (3/11/11) offered an interesting look into the city's greatest spots for tea. 

Tea is taking America by storm - it's always been a popular beverage, but it seems lately there are more tea rooms, tea choices, Teavanas and tea activities to enjoy.

The article reviews the tea and food choices from around the city including the famous Russian Tea Room, the world renown Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel and some independent shops such as Alice's Tea Cup, Tea & Sympathy and Lady Mendl's. But the basis of the story is the new "fad": afternoon tea. 

(A quick sidebar: Alice's Tea Cup is a wonderland of Lewis Carroll's creations, so I will have to investigate that place for a possible feature. Sounds really cool!)

Afternoon tea may conjure up images of garden parties, little old ladies dressed to the nines sipping from dainty tea cups that belong in a museum (or at least no where near clumsy me), and eating cucumber sandwiches with pinkies in the air. (One of those restaurants does serve cucumber sandwiches...which to me has always seemed like a snack or side dish. A sandwich should have meat or at least a heartier veggie than a watery cucumber.)

But afternoon tea, also referred to as low tea (by the Brits, I'm guessing) is a light meal typically eaten between 3 and 5 p.m., according to wikipedia. Loose tea is brewed and served with milk and sugar, and there are those finger foods - sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries. In hotels and tea shops the food is often served on a tiered standA formal afternoon tea is usually taken as a treat in a hotelcafĂ© or tea shop. In everyday life, many British take a much simpler refreshment consisting of tea and biscuits at teatime. (All cited from wikipedia.

We tea fiends may find this amusing, as for many of us drinking tea is a daily habit. We drink tea for lots of reasons - we're thirsty, we're cold (or hot, for iced tea), to enjoy the experience, to try something new, to relax, to energize. 

Imagine if the American workplace established afternoon tea as part of the work day. Maybe not for two hours, but people could meet with coworkers and/or friends for an hour or so to talk, unwind, relax over a cuppa. What could be accomplished, what fences could be mended, and what a way to finish the work day.

The lucky NY Times reporters got to experience that for the article, which is worth a read whether you're NY-bound or not. Brew a cuppa and read the story for a relaxing experience.


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