Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

Chelsea (NYC) T Salon

January 27, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Shops

As I type this entry, I am sitting in a tea shop that gives the Samovar Tea Lounge a run for the money when it comes to hippest tea-sipping spot. I’m at the T-Salon in Chelsea Market.

First of all, this is Chelsea Market in New York City. In what was an old meatpacking building, there is now an incredibly hip foodie paradise. Similar to the Terminal Market in San Francisco, only bigger with even more shops and restaurants, Chelsea Market has fine cheese, fresh fish, farm-raised meat, and on and on with the gourmet shops and bakeries. This building also houses MLB.com and the Google NYC offices. Morimoto (the Iron Chef) has a restaurant here. Hip.

It’s so hip that the free wifi comes with the following terms of service:

I promise to refrain from any hanky panky
Or anything that would make anyone get cranky.
Anything I do with this connection that is lame,
I absolve Chelsea Market et al of any blame.

You click a button that says “All righty!” to agree.

But back to the T-Salon. I came here on recommendation of someone on Steepster who works for Harney & Sons, the fine tea importer/blender in upstate New York. The recommendation came in the midst of a discussion of rose teas, since I’m looking to try more. As such, I’m now drinking one that was recommended to me called Victorian Garden, which is rose with vanilla and black tea. It’s quite yummy, and it’s going perfectly with the snack I’m having, which is a vegan raspberry cheesecake.

Normally I would not go near a vegan cheesecake, but all the baked goods here are vegan, and this one was recommended to me by the server. She was not wrong–it’s quite good, and I’d never believe it was made with tofu and not actual fatty cream if you hadn’t told me. The raspberry is not overdone, and it’s bringing out the rose in the tea. I’m not drinking the tea with cream, but the cake is so “creamy” it seems like I am.

They have a dizzying array of teas here, all in color-coded canisters, and I’ll go back and pick out some to buy to bring home and try later. Right now, I’m going to eat and sip and decompress from a busy few days here in the city for a digital book conference. After two solid days of high level marketingspeak and strategic business planning, my brain is full and quite tired. I left the hotel to come here at 5:30 and figured I would chill here for a few hours rather than try to drive out of New York city during rush hour with a depleted brain. I’m on short sleep, too, and can feel my neurotransmitters on empty. Tea and cake is just the thing.

The place is made completely of bamboo. The disposable fork I’m eating with? Made from potato. The stain on the bamboo counters was tea of course, and the paper lanterns and lights were made from recycled tea bags. This place is serious.

Also empty. Besides me, there’s one couple sitting in the far corner. Now there’s one fellow ordering at the counter. That’s it. Ah, and now the couple are getting up to go. I have the place and its late-night jazz & 50s Motown soundtrack to myself.

So I’ll post this, and nibble and sip, and catch you all when I get back to the Boston area.

Edit: A bit later. Not at all crowded, but lively now. Three young geeks are speaking in HTML on one side of me, and two women just came in and sat on the other side. Two other groups of two (not sure if they are “couples” or not…) The woman next to me just told her friend “I’ve been buying teas from Miriam since back when she was in SoHo! That was sixteen years ago. She’s got so much of my money.”

She’s referring to the T Salon’s owner, Miriam Novalle, whose virtues are extolled on the cup insulator. It’s now 7:30, and I’m done with my tea and cheesecake. I’m so full from the cake I may not stop for dinner for a few hours. Time to pick out some teas to take with me and hit the road.

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