Whenever out-of-town friends come to visit, Gothamist finds that in the rush to see and do everything, we can get pretty tired. Pushing through mental and/or physical exhaustion can make fun activities like museum-going and shopping seem like chores. Yet a friend's visit to New York needs to maximize both day and evening activities, so that when they return home they'll be able to brag to their friends of all the New York things they got to do.
Perhaps the best way to break up a long day of playing tourist is taking your friend for a proper afternoon tea experience. Because proper tea isn't just about the tea itself (which will provide energy through caffeine). And it isn't just about the scones, finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, and cookies, either--though Gothamist can't get enough of any of that stuff.
It's really about the ritual aspect of sitting down and slowly, deliberately, working your way through sweet, then savory, then sweet again foods, with a hot pot of tea at your side. The fine china, tablecloth, and silverware give a grown-up feel to your newly relaxed and reflective state--all the better in which to sit back and discuss the art you just saw or plan your bar hopping for later that night.
Our favorite spot for afternoon tea is the T Salon and Emporium in the Flatiron district. Conveniently located near our favorite portion of Fifth Avenue shopping, Gothamist knows it's there, ready and waiting for us, when we need sustenance but don't want to fill up too much. Proper afternoon tea for one is $35 and the shared rate is $45. For two people, the shared tea of two scones, five little sandwiches, two pots of tea, and several cookies, cakes, and fruits is the equivalent of a light meal.
In particular we're fond of the T Salon's chocolate cake infused with Earl Grey tea, and their rather vast selection of teas means that just about anyone can find a tea to their liking. The upstairs Emporium, which sells many loose teas in a quasi-Buddhist setting is as relaxing as the Salon itself, and inspires us to attempt an afternoon tea experience at home, though we'll probably just go back to T Salon.
Where's your favorite place in the city for proper afternoon tea?
T Salon and Emporium, 11 East 20th St. (bet. 5th Ave. & B'way), (212) 358-0506