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Fine leaf tea source in Manhattan?

I'll be looking for a New York source for high quality loose leaf Chinese teas comparable to my favorite SF shop, Red Blossom Tea. I'm not interested in tisanes, chais, mint teas or flowering teas, just top-notch Chinese greens, oolongs, pu-erhs and black teas. I'd also be interested in a sit-down tea house which can provide an unhurried pot of same to enjoy and maybe some accompanying munchies without a lot of mumbo-jumbo or preciosity.

Thanks.

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  1. Unfortunately, I think Ten Ren is probably the closest thing out there to Red Blossom. SF's got a lot of great Asian tea shops compared to NY. I think if you form a relationship with the Ten Ren guys, they'll steer you to the better stuff and inform you of their newest shipments.

    1. Go to the Wild Lily Tea Room (www.wildlilytearoom.com). I spent a serene afternoon there, just sipping and enjoying great tea, atmosphere, and of course the company of my fellow tea lover who went with me. They have tea for sale in leaf form too, and all the names and places it was imported from were way over my head, so it may be just right for you.

      PS I'm from SF tool. I liked having tea at Samovar in the Castro and Imperial Tea in Chinatown when I was there. Don't know Red Blossom.

      2 Replies
      1. re: omnivorouslady

        Red Blossom doesn't sell tea by the cup, though they are liberal in offering free focused tastings if you show interest in a particular type of tea. My idea of tea heaven is Camellia Sinensis in Mortreal's Latin Quarter, which has a retail tea shop and tea hous side by sise.

        Imperial Tea's Chinatown location has closed.

        1. re: omnivorouslady

          Wild Lily??? I thought that place several closed years ago??? It was a wonderful spot, did it re-open?? Because it is certainly not in the same place on 22 St. A gallery expanded into that spot--I was just there.

        2. My New York daughter (without even being aware of this thread) just clued me in to a place at Chelsea Market called "T Salon". Judging from their overdesigned website (dontcha' just love websites that talk to you?) it might be worth a visit. Any experiences with this place? Have they opened promised Tribeca and Columbus Circle locations yet?

          http://www.tsalon.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: Xiao Yang

            T Salon is a Tea Bar--literally. They have a small lounge in the back where they mix tea w/liquor for tea-based cocktails. I think Ten Ren is more of what the OP is looking for--quality loose teas to make at home, T Salon, while very nice, is not a place for an unhurried cup of tea. T Salon has the feeling of most meat packing bars really--not good on weekends.

          2. Unfortunately, Wild Lily Tea Room closed some time ago. Ten Ren offers surly/pushy service, and stay away from the teas in the huge canisters -- sometimes the seasonal oolongs in vacuum-sealed foil packs are OK.

            But the best in NYC, Xiao Yang, are at The Tea Gallery at 131 Allen St., just north of Delancey, sort of at the Eastern edge of Chinatown. Owned by a young couple from Hong Kong who have great tea sources in HK. They're very knowledgeable and particular about their teas. They are open by appointment most days but have regular hours on Fri and Sat, I think. (Best to call.) I am a regular there, and I think their teas are a cut above those at Red Blossom.

            Sometimes it is possible to have a tea-session with the owners, but it is not a tea house per se, more of a retail establishment. They have some very nice teaware as well.

            You should have a look at their website:

            www.theteagallery.com

            Best,
            Joe

            5 Replies
            1. re: comestible

              Thanks, I'll definitely check that one out. Which teas do you thnk are a cut above Red Blossom's? Peter Luong personally vets nearly all of RBT's selections on-site (he's over there right now, signing off on my beloved Longjings!)

              1. re: Xiao Yang

                I live in NYC but get to the bay area two or three times a year. I've only been to the "new" Red Blossom once, on my last trip, and really enjoyed meeting Peter and commiserating over several cups of tea! You can tell he loves tea and the business, and he is very cordial, but I wonder about the storage in those canisters. I brought home an heirloom Li Shan 2006 that was very good (pricey too) and an Anxi Iron Goddess that was rather ordinary. I'd love to sample more of their teas (or order some) to see the full range. I used to like the old Imperial Tea Court that closed, at least for their top level teas.

                I happened to be having tea at Tea Gallery one day, and another fellow was visitng from San Francisco. He buys from Red Blossom, but he said San Francisco really had nothing on the quality level of Tea Gallery. So mostly I was echoing his comment.

              2. re: comestible

                Thank you for posting this. I've got to check it out soon. My tea supply is diminishing.

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Miss N, are you in New York right now (you seem to be bi-coastal). If so, can you drop me a line? My email is in my profile.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    Gary, when you come to NY next week, you should definitely check out comestible's rec Tea Gallery. One of the owners, Michael, is really knowledgeable about his teas. I like tea, but Michael takes it to a totally new level. He actually gets the whole yin/yang thing about tea which I dig. A lot of tea shops keep extolling the whole anti-oxidant thing about green tea, probably because they think that's what Americans like to hear and because they think it will help them sell their tea.

                    It was fun listening to him talking about the tea; he seems very passionate about the subject. I don't think I can (or/and want) to take it to the extent he does, but it is very interesting to learn from him. I just don't want to get to the point where I'm so finicky about the art of tea where I just can't order a Celestial Seasonings in a cafe.

              3. its pretty expensive, but Cafe Tea Box (in front of the restaurant there is a tea shop) at Takshimaya (basement floor) has a pretty high quality and reasonable selection of tea leaves

                2 Replies
                1. re: Lau

                  Thanks, but you are confusing me - expensive or reasonable?

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    expensive prices with a reasonable selection

                2. Are you willing to try a Japanese Tea store?? Ito En on Madison Ave. has high end Japanese teas and teaware.