5 Best Tea Spots in New York City

By Diana Zhang
Diana Zhang
Diana Zhang
Diana Zhang, Ph.D., is a staff writer with 20 years’ experience in the study of China. Based in the United States, she uses a pen name to protect her family members in China.
July 31, 2013 Updated: June 24, 2015


1. Radiance Tea House & Books

This is the best and only Chinese-style tea house in New York City.

If you have ever heard the names of tea that ancient emperors used to enjoy, Radiance has them all. The owner travels extensively to select the best and most traditional teas. But experiencing quality tea isn’t just about the right leaves, brewing is equally important. Radiance uses authentic Chinese-style brewing so customers get a chance to taste the perfect brew of tea. By appointment, you can enjoy very elaborate hourlong Chinese-style tea ceremony.

Tea originated in China. The ancient Emperor Shennoong was the inventor of Chinese medicine 5,000 years ago. He tasted all kinds of the herbs, roots, and flowers found in the mountains—some of which are poisonous. One day, he discovered that tea leaves can refresh the body and work as antidote to many ailments. Since then, tea has been a daily drink from the Emperor’s palace and ordinary families.

158 West 55th Street, between 6th & 7th Avenues
Opening Hours:
Mon-Thu: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun: 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.


2. Cha An

This is a Japanese-style tea house with restaurant and bar.

In its traditional tatami tea room, every 1st and 3rd Sunday, between
noon and 2 p.m., you can enjoy a half hour Japanese tea ceremony with
Japanese sweets.

Traditionally, a Japanese style tea ceremony can last as long as 6 hours. Guests would come to a house, approach each item in the tea room to show appreciation, the hostess would clean each item in front of her guests, use proper fire to boil spring water, then ritualistically hand a specially selected tea bowl to her guests. In its truest form, Japanese tea ceremony is more akin to meditation than an afternoon snack.

230 E 9th St. between 2nd & 3rd Avenues.
Mon-Thu: 2-11 p.m.; Fri-Sat: 12 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun: 12 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
$20 per person


3. Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel

This is considered one of the most fashionable, must-visits for the New York experience. If you ask a native New Yorker where to go on a romantic date, you’ll hear “Afternoon Tea at the Plaza.” It is so popular that you have to make reservation to secure seats during tea time. Don your finest attire as if you are going to visit European aristocracy in a
grand mansion.

Known as the heart and soul of the Plaza, and originally constructed in 1907 under the name “The Tea Room,” the Palm Court is a huge space bordered by mirrored doors, marble columns, and crowned with a domed yellow-and-green skylight. It is a feast for sight.

Fifth Avenue at Central Park South
Daily: 2-5 p.m.
$50 – $60 per person


4. The Astor Court at the St. Regis Hotel

If you like English-style high tea and enjoy European art, the Astor Court at the St. Regis Hotel is the best choice.

You’ll find typical teas grown in China, India, Sri Lanka, and Africa, like those you’d be served in London. For $55 per person, you can enjoy afternoon tea with freshly baked scones, assorted tea cakes and tarts.

With tables dressed in Porthault linens and Limoges china designed by Tiffany exclusively for the hotel, Astor Court is a quiet, high class place for an elegant tea experience. The art decor enhances the European-style experience. In the center of the room, is an enormous flower bouquet. Up around the ceiling, is a replica of Renaissance style painting
conveying Greek myths. If you are musical, come when the harpist performs Wed. to Sun. 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

2 East 55th St. btwn. Madison and Fifth Aves.
Daily Afternoon 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.


5. Franchia Vegan Cafe

This is a Korean-style tea house. To enjoy Korean tea, the room environment and decor are very important. The Franchia Vegan has heavy dark wood grating typical of an often cold Korea. The highlight of this space is a mural ceiling reminiscent of a Korean Palace.

They have traditional Korean tea as well as more modern and trendy health teas. The best from their tea menu is the wild green tea from Korean mountain. This kind of wild tea is very rare with a very fresh and gentle taste. It takes you away from the busy city to real spring. Their Korean tea ware is also enjoyable.

12 Park Ave, between 34th & 35th St
Mon-Fri: 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. / 4 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. (last seating)
Sat: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. / 4 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. (last seating)
Sun: 5:30 p.m. –  9:30 p.m. (last seating)

Diana Zhang
Diana Zhang, Ph.D., is a staff writer with 20 years’ experience in the study of China. Based in the United States, she uses a pen name to protect her family members in China.