Experience the ancient and exotic ritual of the Asian tea ceremony at one of New York's enticing tea houses. Some offer matcha-crafting instruction while others teach the intricacies on the ceremony art of the service or include tutorials on the history of tea. Either way, you can explore the taste and cultures of Asia by engaging in this time-honored tradition.
Floating Mountain Tea House
You'll find more than a hundred Chinese specialty teas at Floating Mountain Tea House. There, teas are brewed in the traditional Chaozhou Gongfu Cha style. And two types of ceremonies are offered: Cha Dao (the Way of Tea) and GongFu Cha (tea brewing mastery). Cha Dao is an ancient Chinese tradition with roots in Daoism dating back thousands of years. They observe the art of tea drinking as a “Way” or “Dao” that transforms the practice into a meditation in motion. There are five elements harmonizing to promote a deeper connection to self, nature, and the community and ceremonies typically serve between 3 and 15 celebrants. The Gongfu Cha technique involves deep concentration from the brewer whose well-honed skills align with an energy flow and the spirits in attendance. The classic rules of the traditional brewing are put in place here; it's ideal for up to three guests. Floating Mountain also offers a tasting that invites guests to select any three teas from the menu. Each is brewed in a gaiwan (lidded) cup. The origins are explained in detail, and the effects of tea on the body are discussed. All ceremonies should be scheduled in advance. 239 W. 72nd St., 2nd fl., 646-541-0636, floating-mountain.com
Nestled protectively from the buzz of the city streets below is Cha-An—a second-floor tea shop that serves Japanese treats as well as tea. Its stellar staff offers guests matcha instruction and provides guidance on the basic movements that should accompany traditional tea ceremonies. Guests also learn the history of matcha. 230 E. 9th St., 2ndfl., 212-228-8030, chaanteahouse.com
A deep dive into tea education is at the nucleus of the West Village’s Luv Tea. Tuesdays through Sundays, Luv Tea offers tea ceremony classes from 8pm to 9:30pm (and you must r reserve a spot to participate). Classes offer an in-depth discourse on tea and an introduction to a wide assortment of teas. They also discuss table preparation and provide a tea preparation demonstration. These classes are taught by Wan Di and his apprentice—top model David Chiang, who has worked with Vogue, Versace and Vera Wang. Luv Tea offers competition worthy oolong teas, which are sourced from owner and tea master Jaesy Wang’s Taiwan-basedfamily farm. They also provide other innovative tea blends that hail from destinations across the globe. Wang has created her own original recipes using experience gained from her family’s venerated line of award-winning tea growers and roasters. 37 A Bedford St. 212-805-7600, luv-tea.com
Japanese tea house Setsuggekka offers open tea ceremonies every month in the East Village. Guests can select a favorite tea bowl and savor matcha prepared by Japanese tea ceremony master Souheki Mori, who has more than 20 years of experience honing his craft. Check the website for the next ceremony. 74 E. 7th St., 646-895-9586, setsugekkany.com
29B Tea House
29b welcomes tea enthusiasts to experience leaves and brews from Japan, Korea, India, China, and Taiwan. Their tea menu includes such varieties as old aged-Chinese puerhs to charcoal roasted Taiwanese oolongs to rare Korean black tea balhyo and the highest grade shousui matcha. 29B also offers instructional classes on the history, preparation and appreciation of tea. In addition, there's a monthly series focusing on innovative chefs who are interested in healthy, season-centric dishes and offbeat ways of using tea in food. 29 Ave. B, 646-864-0093, tea-dealers.com