Where do you love to go for a cuppa tea?
Short and Stout Tea
1736a Western Avenue
Albany, NY 12203
I treasure this place. The owners and the staff are wonderful. When I go there, I relax in a deep seated sofa with my tea and, probably, one or two chicken curry puffs. It is my tea version of Cheers. Replace beer with tea in the video below, add in a few folk engaged in yarn craft projects, and a couple of students working on their papers, and there you have it. If my work day ended earlier, I might be here almost daily - just like Norm.
The Whistling Kettle
Ballston Spa Tearoom and Cafe
24 Front Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Troy Tearoom and Cafe
Troy, NY 12180
I first went to the Whistling Kettle - Ballston Spa in the summer of 2009. They had me at "hello"! I believe that, my Haitian upbringing notwithstanding, my real love for tea and tisanes was birthed there. At the time, they had at least a hundred of teas to peruse and smell. I was able to sample teas I had never heard of. I learned so much about how tea is produced and about fair trade practices. I thought that it was grand then. Their selection has since increased and it truly is a haven for tea sampling. For $12 you can sample three teas. I have not tried this option, as I am more likely to have a pot of tea with the "Afternoon Tea", a three course meal. I tend to purchase samples of teas for home - more tea for the same price! The food here is fantastic. I, especially, love their soups. Every time I think I have a favorite soup, they make it harder to choose by making another incredible concoction.
Unlike Short and Stout, this is not a place where you can plop yourself in a chair and drink tea for a couple of hours. Both of the Whistling Kettle locations have more of a restaurant vibe, than a come and chill for as long as you want vibe.
Sidebar - The Iron Roost is on the same block as Whistling Kettle - Ballston Spa. There, everything is a sweet or savory waffle. The staff is amazing. The food is delicious. They make their turkey sausage from scratch (maybe the other sausage too, but I cannot confirm). The food is delicious. We love this place. We love waffles in the Moody Household. Double Sidebar: If you are ever in Ithaca, Waffle Frolic is equally yummy!
511 Congress Street, #105,
Portland, ME 04101
This place is just unreal. At Soakology, you may soak your feet and drink tea. There is a tapas-ish menu that I quite enjoyed. I first saw this establishment when I went to Portland, ME for an academic advising conference - maybe in 2008 or 2007. It was March and it was cold. Almost all of downtown closed early, as it was not tourist season. Still, I kept it on my radar, so when the advising conference returned to Portland in 2016, I booked an appointment to soak my feet. They had relocated and the transformation was just incredible. The foot soak seemed pricey, but I decided to pamper myself. I went during our lunch break and it was the most relaxing experience, transporting one out of the business and busyness of the day and into serenity. I hope that I did not snore. It was worth every penny.
The picture above is where one would sit, simply to have tea. There is another section, even more peaceful than this for the feet soakers. There are aromatherapy neck wraps for anyone sitting in the lobby to warm up and use. In addition to tea, they sell many tea infused body products. Even the tea samples are served in locally made, earthen vessels. I went here again, just for tea and it was just as pleasant.
Univeristy at Albany
Albany, New York
What can I say? They are steps away from my office. The tea is great. I like ordering something new ever time I go. There is just one problem: I do not go often because I usually have to compete with 50 other Argo-ites who have discovered the deliciousness of their teas, tisanes, and other drink items. The savory-filled croissants are always what I need to make it through my day, especially the leek-parmesan one. If you scroll through the pics on this page, and you see the Argo pic, note: we am not inside of an Argo tea cup.
Dobra tea is like yoga for tea lovers. Tea is the breath. It seems like everyone there, patrons and baristas are honoring their neighbor's tea experience. No loud conversations. Hushed tones with an occasional chant when a chai is made. In addition to regular seating, there is pod-like seating with cushions and bamboo-ness, where you have to remove your shoes to sit. Every tea has a story and is served with an artfulness. The tea menu, therefore reads like a book - not a list of ingredients. I have been to the one in Maine and Vermont. I almost went to the one in Northampton, but I had one-hour parking and did not want to get a ticket.
In the pics below: A tea blend called, Memories of Prague - " black Assam leaf tea mixed with bitter chocolate. A favorite among our American visitors in the Czech Republic. The infusion has a seductive sweet aroma. Served with warm milk and honey. Soy milk, rice milk, and/or maple syrup are available on request."
Homegrown Herb and Tea
195 Congress Street
Portland, Maine 04101
On the Wish List - I was right there in Portland and somehow missed this place. If I had done better research, there would be notes about my predictably, wonderful experience, rather than these words of regret.
Jean's Greens: Herbal Tea Works and Herbal Essentials
225 River Street
Troy, NY 12180
Fortunately, I was finally able to visit this natural apothecary (my description - not theirs) last week. I imagine that it is similar to Portland's Homegrown Herb and Tea, except for the homegrown part and the drink while you are there part.
There seemed to be an herb and oil for every ailment. You have to know what you want. In other words, they are not medical practitioners and you cannot go there saying you have a problem with this or that, asking them to heal you with the right mixture of oils and tonics. If you however, do your own research, you can have a field day at this small but plentiful shop. I went there to explore and learn about what they offer. I purchased an elderberry tonic which has ginger and lime in it, a chest rub with eucalyptus and something called "Calm Balm." I happened to have a cold at the time and I can attest that the elderberry tonic reduced some of my symptoms.
Teas! Yes, they have quite an assortment of herbal teas and true camellia sinensis (tea from the tea leaf). Their stash is mostly for healing and wellness, but there are a few that are just because one might like the flavor. In addition to tea, herbs, essential oils, tonics, and healing balms, there are lotions, soaps. cards, jewelry and other items. There are even items for your pets! If, after leaving Jeans' Greens, you really want a cup of tea, you can go down the block, and around the corner to the Whistling Kettle . Enjoy!
Saratoga Tea and Honey Co.
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Updated - 1/22/17
This is a lovely place to stop by if you are passing through, not so much if you are with a child and want to sit a while. It is quite grown-upsy. Also, this is not a place to go for pastries and tea. While there are a few treats, they are mostly for tea-dipping, not for filling your tummy. There is limited seating even if you are not with a child, but I would recommend going anyway. The tea selection is vast, as is the honey selection. The tea is served, with care on local pottery which is very special. There is a picture on this page of their honey section which was a hit with my toddler. I love how the different honeys drastically alter the flavors of the tea. Their tea wall is lined with pre-packaged two-ounce tea bags varying in price. You may also order blends and other quantities of your choice, if you like.
1708 Union St
Schenectady, NY 12309
Divinitea supplies their organic, fair trade teas to businesses all over New York State's Capital Region and beyond. Their teas are most accessible online, complete with a tea subscription option. I smile inside when I go somewhere and notice that their teas are being offered. The owner, Linda, gives a tea talk on Mondays at Professor Javas. This lady knows her tea! This is not a place where you go to have a cup of tea, but rather it is where you can increase your stash with quality teas, picked with care. It is a place where you can ask questions and request different blends. There are no late hours, but if you can get there, you will not be disappointed with your tea purchases. There is a discount bin which is a nice way to try their different blends.
The Tailored Tea
1010 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY 12110
On the Wish List
Verdigris Tea & Chocolate
Hudson, NY Location:
135 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534
Catskill NY, Location:
291 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
On the Wish List. Ahem - Number 1 on the Wish List. I mean, there is a tea and a chocolate menu. Come on!
Top Hat Special Teas
234 West Evans St.
Florence, South Carolina 29501
Oooh southern loving right here! When the owner brings out a basket of toys and sets your child up lovingly in a corner to play while your tea and meal are being prepared, you fall in love. In the deep countryside of South Carolina, visiting family, I found a tea house. My husband could not believe it. Florence was about 20 minutes from where we were situated. I was trying to find a picture that encapsulates the spirit of this place and I found one on their Facebook page. Top Hat has an annual, Teddy Bear Tea for the kiddies. Why am I not surprised. a
Harney & Sons
13 Main St,
Millerton, NY 12546
I am not quite sure how I almost left Harney & Sons off of this list. I have been longing to go to their store in Millerton, NY for a few years. You can see their cute tea tins in the supermarket and in my office. I use the tins for other loose leaf teas and to hold my pens, packets of sugar, and other little things. My favorite, so far is their Green Tea with Coconut. They have over 250 blends of teas, so I really am limiting myself to whatever the stores have consented to sell. They serve food and tea. A visit will be in the works for 2017.
It is easy to be disctracted by my kid, but look at the Harney & Sons tins on the side!
Here, I share new discoveries and thoughts about things I love. Ride along with me. Comments are welcomed and appreciated.