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Japanese Tea in NYC

I'm visiting Manhattan between Christmas and New Year's and I am hoping to pick up some good quality Japanese Tea, e.g. good quality sencha, the kind that comes in foil packets and is $20-30/100g. So are there any good sources of Japanese Tea in NYC? Some place with a good selection.

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  1. By all means go to Ito En at Madison Avenue and 68th Street...wonderful teas, exquisite setting...you can also order directly from the website

    www.itoen.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: fauchon

      I'd looked up Ito En and plan on visiting. However are there any smaller boutique tea shops that are worth a visit?

      1. re: bluedog

        i second Ito En.

        japanese tea is different from korean tea, but if you can do either, Franchia, a korean tea spot on 35th & park, has amazing teas-- from first pick (up to $100 per foil packet) to 3rd pick (appx $40). the tea i've had there is excellent. and from what know off the top of my head, the difference between some japanese and korean tea is that the korean tea is served cooler (w/ the proper way to use a cooling bowl for the water before pouring it into the tea leaves).

        there is also a tea place --the name is slipping me right now -- but it's in the W. village on Macdougal close to w. 3rd st. they have dozens and dozens of types of tea, many of them Asian. I'm sure there are Japanese varieties in there as well.

        there's also a japanese tea house called cha-an on 9th st. b/w 2nd and 3rd. i'm not sure if they sell the tea by packets, but it's an excellent place to get a good brew. they also have plenty ofj apanese varieites.

        1. re: bluedog

          cha an is a terrific japanese tea house with a great selection in the east village. i'm not sure if their teas can be bought in bulk to go, but you might want to give them a call.

      2. I've purchased some fine teas in bulk at a small tea shop called Sympathy for the Kettle, on St. Marks (8th St.) between 1st and Ave. A. Not sure if they have exactly what you're looking for, but if nothing else it's a cool little place with 150+ varieties of teas. I've sampled 4+ of their various Green teas personally, and they have some interesting flavors.

        1. I'm a fan of Sympathy for the Kettle, but they are not the place to go for informed expertise on Japanese teas or high quality green teas. It's just a cute tea shop.

          Cha-an, too, is well worth a visit, but it is a restaurant, not a place to buy teas to take home.

          Ito-En is it. It's not too big. They know what they're talking about. Go, and expect to pay. (The attached restaurant Kai serves food and afternoon tea.)

          If you are interested in learning more about the Japanese Tea Ceremony, you should make an effort to contact the Urasenke Chanoyu Center in the UES. The Center has a school that does demonstrations in its carriage house location and occasionally at the Met. Check if your schedule will coordinate with theirs, but it's a wonderful experience if you have the chance.
          A blurb: http://www.starchefs.com/features/tea...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pupster

            Oh, I almost forgot to mention the basement level of the Takashimaya department store might be worth a visit. They have teas and tea paraphenalia sold there, but if I remember correctly, the teas are all pre-packaged. Perhaps another hound can confirm.

            1. re: Pupster

              Actually, if there is a takashimaya there, then this will likely do: when I have been in Tokyo, it is in the food halls of the department stores where you can often find really good deals on quality tea. Thanks!

          2. Agree with Pupster on all points (except Sympathy for the Kettle which I do not know) and would especially encourage you to reserve lunch or dinner at Kai when you do visit Ito-en. They present the best kaiseki I have had in NYC (certainly better than Nadaman Hakubai).

            1. I had meant to report back on this..I visited NYC between Christmas and New Year's and, from the suggestions on this board, went to both the Takashimaya on Park Avenue and Ito En on Madison and 68th.

              For my purposes, Takashimaya was a waste of time: there is a small tea shop in the small basement space, selling mostly blended teas (fruit flavours etc.) and Japanese tchotchkes. Nothing like the food hall I had in my mind, or I would find at any Takashimaya in Asia. And the prices were outrageous.

              However Ito En was wonderful!! A very knowledgeable and polite staff, an excellent selection of Japanese regional teas, of various types, and clearly catering to a customer base who are assumed to know their stuff. I was allowed to taste everything before I bought it, and chose select 4 teas which should keep me going for awhile. Very similar to the tea shops I have encountered in Japan. Highly recommended.

              And (belated) thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I am coming back in October and may check out your other ideas.