I visited Zhi Tea 12-11-11 @ 3:16pm
Address: 4607 Bolm Rd., Austin, TX 78702
It was a very sharp turn to get to the right street, I passed it once and ended up having to circle back to it. There was limited parking, but the place was not very full. By the end of my visit there were 4 other patrons, 3 of which stayed with for here drinks.
One woman, the blender, was taking care of the front of the store. She was very knowledgeable and helpful with telling me about the teas and helping me select one to have.
The walls were covered with shelves of tea, and plenty of sampler sizes.
There were 4 tables, and 1 couch corner.
Average experience for a tea shop, but cozy and nice. I will gladly go back to visit next time I am in Austin.
Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II NYC
156 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10065-7411 (Alice’s Tea Cup Chapter II)
After shopping at Kusmi I headed down to Alice’s for lunch. The reviews on Steepster left me a little wary but friends on Facebook had recommended I visit it next time I was in town.
I did need to look around a bit to find it as it was around the corner and the entrance was set down below the sidewalk.
Once I found it I headed in and asked for a table for one. The hostess was pleasant and happy. I did feel a little guilty coming in at peak time alone.
I was seated on the level below sidewalk next to the kitchen; there was definitely a second floor that plates were being brought up to.
The restaurant was skinny and long. The décor was mismatched china and framed prints of pictures of various Alice films, and artist pictures and painting inspired by the same.
There were little notes around (think eat me and drink me) like on the dessert case (come closer, come closer).
They did pull off the wonderland tea party, grandmomther’s parlor theme well.
The tables were wooden with wooden chairs; the table I was on was actually an old converted sewing desk with footpedal.
The staff seemed to have droopy too large and mismatched attire as a uniform (which makes sense) that added to the theme.
The tea menu was very large and descriptive – and sorted by type. I wished I were not alone and could order more than one tea to share and try with someone. The food selection was also diverse and tea themed (scones and such).
The wait staff didn’t seem happy with me; I guess I was taking up space at a four person table for only one person. I felt a little bad but wished they didn’t seem so grumpy about it.
I ordered Alice’s Tea (house blend and apparently a favorite).
The tea I received in a whole, not small, teapot with an interesting drip catcher sponge attached. It was served abruptly with my cup only half poured and sloshed about. Was this thematic to the mad hatter’s tea party or just an angry waitress that she got the one patron table?
The tea itself was a translucent orange brown color. There was not a strong aroma to the brewed tea. The tea was slightly astringent, so I added sugar to the first cup, but as I kept refilling it I didn’t bother as it was so slight. The tea was a smooth, medium bodied black with citrus notes. I couldn’t taste the green tea they blended into the black. It was a little floral.
For lunch I ordered the cumin carrot sandwich. It was delicious and filling and presented well.
I tried not to be a burden and to eat and drink in a not dawdling way, but I could not resist the cookie plate at the end.
There were chocolate peanut cookies; butterscotch chip cookies, crasin macadamia cookies and what I believe were shortbread.
Overall good food, not bad tea, and a grumpy wait staff.
I called a few days in advance and the only opening was at the 5 pm seating, I am glad it wasn’t booked. I suggest making sure you plan this in advance.
When I arrived I nearly passed the location by, there is a plaque next to the door but nothing else.
I walked in and explained I was there for the tea parlor, and was taken to my seat in a small parlor. There was already one group of four ladies seated, and I got to select which table I wanted from the remaining 4. After I was seated the remaining tables did fill with two pairs and one single person.
It was interesting to note that all the wait staff was male, and all the patrons were female.
The waiter explained the difference between a tea and a tisane infusion while presenting the tea menu to me, which was a pleasant surprise.
Each guest may select one tea, and the 5 courses are decided by the tea parlor and not listed anywhere.
I selected the Wood Dragon Oolong, which they said was steeped 5-7 minutes.
Throughout the five course meal the wait staff kept my tea filled, my water filled, and the courses coming. You will not leave hungry.
The parlor had an upscale, fancy restaurant, vibe. You didn’t need to know your tea, or tea preparation, to appreciate the lovely meal.
The first course was a butternut squash tart, topped with parmesan cheese and crème fresh. It was surprisingly spicy, but tasty.
Next my pot of tea arrived; it had already been properly steeped so no worry about removing leaves or timing it. I was offered cream, which I declined. The table already had granulated white sugar and candied ginger. The tea saucer had a cute sugar cube with frosting flower on top.
Second course was finger sandwiches; I could select one of each. I was offered seconds after I completed my sandwiches, I appreciated that but passed. Each sandwich had one predominating flavor, and sadly all other flavors were lost. Please note that they were tasty and filling.
-Smoked salmon and cream cheese on pumpernickel
I asked the waiter if I could purchase some wood dragon and Lord Mendel tea to take home and I was quoted 7$ each. I accepted.
Third course was scones, one plain and one cranberry, with raspberry preserves and Devonshire cream. They were nice and warm, sweet. I do think the cream tasted exactly like whipped butter and wonder if there was a mistake or if Devonshire cream just tasted like whipped butter.
There was sadly no refill offer on scones. I wasn’t going to accept as I wanted to be able to eat dessert, but as they say it’s the thought that counts.
Fourth course was a layered crepe cake filled with vanilla cream on a raspberry coolie(?). It was light, and creamy. The raspberry was minimal and completely overwhelmed by the vanilla.
Fifth course was a large strawberry dipped in Belgian chocolate, apricot pastry and a shortbread or butter cookie covered in sugar. I devoured the strawberry, it was perfectly ripe and delicious. The pastries were not fabulous, I ended up taking a nibble of each but didn’t bother to finish since I was stuffed.
The waiter came back and asked for my to go order a second time. When he came back with the packaged teas I was dismayed to find that they were bagged teas, and over ten dollars each for 4 teabags per bag. I still purchased them but in the future I will likely not bother to purchase the tea.
The five courses and tea were 35$ plus tax and 20% tip
My bill, with tip, came to 67$
I would recommend this as a nice place to enjoy good tea and food with friends, it’s inexpensive and filling with great, attentive, service. If you are really a tea person though I would recommend you go elsewhere.
I decided to have dinner at Dinner at Tea & Sympathy around 9 pm on Saturday.
There is a list of rules on the door, funny enough that Nicky spells her name the same way.
The wait staffs were two girls, one Irish, not sure the other one’s accent but it sounded UK/Ireland.
Overall it’s a tiny place, but when I arrived it was almost full, but no wait.
They discourage lingering, but are pleasant, helpful, and it seems (I have never visited England) like a shop you could find abroad.
I had the soup of the day, squash soup, with a lapsing souchong.
The soup was spicy but nice. It wasn’t heavy and I was glad for that on a hot night.
The Lapsang Souchong was prepared as loose leaf in a postman teapot. They provided a cup strainer to keep leaves out of your cup while pouring.
They failed to mention how long, or that they had not steeped the tea yet. I let it set two more minutes as it was very pale. I think it could have used another minute.
The unfortunate part of the large pot and small teacup was that my first cup was weak, my second cup was perfect, and the third cup was over steeped as there is no way to stop the steeping process other than to drink faster.
Although there is a no lingering policy I never felt rushed, and the girls knew their product.
Sadly I failed to get photos of the outside or inside. The inside walls are decorated with pictures of royalty, and other random British memorabilia. Behind the counter there are many, many different teapots and teacups, which do seem to get used. I wonder if even the ones on the top shelves near the ceiling get used when it gets very busy.
The bathroom was next to the kitchen and was tiny. The door stuck, so at first I thought it was occupied, the staff saw me look dejected and pointed out I just needed to pull harder.
Overall the place was clean, the food was good, the quality of the tea was good, and the staff was very pleasant and helpful. My only complaint is the need to monitor your own tea after it arrives at an unknown steep time. I would recommend stopping by – the people near me were enjoying mushroom pie, scones and clotted cream, and other delicious looking items.
My meal came to $16 including tip.
Next door is the store, Carry on Tea & Sympathy’s, it is small. The store makes excellent use of their space to offer a large selection of teas and china. They also offer to go service for those not wanting to sit for a meal.
Next to the store is an unrelated fish and chips store, making that stretch of street very British.
We visited the store Sunday morning and were helped by a very nice lady. She was not pushy or intrusive like in some stores but was ready and willing help answer questions or find things when you needed her.
The store had a wall of loose teas, displays of holiday tins, and a small assortment of tea pots and other tea equipment. It was very festive.
There were two samples out in the store. The lady said that during the slower non-holiday season they would also sample other teas at the wrapping table to help people decide what to purchase.
I purchased: Glass Gaiwan, Mango oolong, Melon Oolong, Joyeux Noel, Orzo
Included in the pretty thick (gifting quality) shopping bag were 4 teabag samples of strawberry & vanilla green tea and a pamphlet.
I had the Bai Hao Oolong Tea for breakfast. I ordered it as there was no Golden Phoenix Oolong Tea available. The waitress suggested this as an alternative and i enjoyed it. I had the Ginger Quinoa Waffle (Soft like a pillow, heavenly. Served with fresh fruit & real maple syrup) along with this tea.
MilitiaJim had the Russian Chay Platter & Bottomless Samovar House-Blend Black Tea. The Chay Platter included: Tarragon-Marinated Beets, Smoked Whitefish & Horseradish, paprika Devilled Egg w/ Caviar, Wheat Crackers, Fresh Fruit, Chocolate Brownie.
The location has comfortable benches, outdoor seating, huge windows for natural light and is very cozy. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. The food was great, and the tea was amazing.
While on vacation in San Francisco we visited Samovar Tea Lounge – Zen Valley for dinner on Saurday night.
I ordered the Maiden’s Ecstasy Pu-Erh Tea with Squash Dumplings w/ Dipping Sauce (Handmade vegetarian squash dumplings w/ spicy sesame-soy sauce).
MilitiaJim ordered Breakfast Blend with the Wasabi Caesar Salad w/ Wild Smoked Salmon (Organic hearts of romaine, wild smoked salmon, shaved parmesan, garlic, croutons, & Caesar dressing w/ a wasabi kick).
We were seated in the upper area in the back at a table for two. The back area was dimly lit. The place was a very relaxed atmosphere with an attentive staff. We purchased a tin of Russian blend and tea oil to take home (sadly the tea oil was confiscated by the TSA because we forgot to mail it home or check a bag). The place was not very busy, there were two other couples there when we first arrived for dinner Saturday night.
I enjoyed the other Samovar lounge location (Yerba Buena Gardens) more and would prefer to return there rather than this one. We did not get to try the Mission-Castro location.
Serves loose leaf red blossom tea
On my first visit I got a waffle and tea, on my second visit i got tea and porn cake.
The staff was pleasant and helpful, the store was comfortable. I very much enjoyed the store and hope that I can go back. The atmosphere is very laid back, the furniture is random, assorted but comfortable. This is not a prim and proper place but more a nice local hodge podge where the time and effort go into the coffee, tea and baked goods rather than fancy furniture. There was a stack of games you could play available.
You are served a pot of tea with a cup, it’s a few cups worth in the pot. You can pull the leaves from the pot or let them steep.
Please note the cafe is 18+ only as it is a kinky cafe.
This was the second stop on our visit to Manhattan, following sushi. We were not spending long so I was keeping each stop short. I also knew the boys were not going to be as excited about the tea as I was. Here MilitiaJim and I met up with two of his friends.
When I walked in there were fabulously high ceilings, teapots and art to my right with a cooler of ready made iced teas, a register station to the left, in front of me to the left a wall of tea – a HUGE wall of tea, in front of me to the right was a wall of tea. Fabulous!
Overall the store was skinny and long. There was enough room for the current customers, but I did have to detour around the two small tables they had between the two walls of tea at various points to dodge customers.
After the walls of tea were two sets of shelves with tea and books and other assorted items breaking the store apart from the café seating area.
If I had gone alone I would have stopped in the café, as it was I’ll reserve that for next time.
I went to the sampling bar and tried an assortment of teas; the samples were in no way skimpy. The adorable girl helping me looked very like my friend Fox, and it was a little surprising. She was able to point me at the Boston blend based on the tea selections I told her I liked from H&S. The store employees were helpful and knowledgeable and very welcoming. The samples were huge and beyond reasonable.
I did notice proper tasting brewers and cups and heard about a tasting flight. I wasn’t lingering so I didn’t ask how much that would cost but I am very interested in doing that on my next visit.
I then went to browse the wall of tea with the smaller tins and sachets. I am sure there was a pattern to the location of the tins but it was not spelled out (greens, whites, etc) and so I ended up going through the selection twice, once to read all the tins and once to make my selections for purchase.
This visit I picked up come holiday, Boston blend, dragon pearls, genmaicha, and the H&S guide to tea.
The bags are thick and have cloth handles, very worth of being a gift bag not just a shopping bag.
I can’t wait to go back!
MilitiaJim and I were only spending the afternoon in Manhattan, so we were only spending a small amount of time in each location. Two of MilitiaJim’s friends joined us for our trip around the city after we had sushi for lunch.
Our third and last stop of the night was at The Tea Set. We arrived, and the place was sadly empty of customers. When I first walked in there was a beautiful and colorful wall of tea tins on shelves in front of a lovely exposed brick wall. Sadly the picture of this did not come out well. If we were getting something to go we could have easily gone up to the counter and placed our order and waited in hat area without being in any patrons’ way.
The intimate and cozy store is great for sitting and chatting with friends.
I took the table near the window, where the Hanukkah menorah was there, a nice try though not done properly. I took the bench seating against the wall that had many pillows, and ordered a bottle of Champaign and two pound cakes. They make their whipped cream fresh and serve the pound cake with a strawberry. It was moist and delicious.
The menu was a little vague:
- Champagne Bottle… $59
- Champagne Bottle Pommery… $85
- Champagne Bottle Pommery Rose… $125
- Champagne Bottle Krug….. $325
Not that I know champagne well but for a champagne bar you would think there would be a list of today’s Champaign choices? For those who know what kinds they like (drier for example?)
So, we ended up with 2 bottles of Champaign. I think if it has just been the two of us I would have gotten one bottle and perhaps tried their tea and Champaign cocktail.
After all the drinking I got us 4 mugs of mango black tea. We’re large mango fans. The tea was served them in large double walled mugs with the laser cut infusers. There were more than enough leaves and you could steep them as long as you wished (I like this!). I also caused a bit of confusion asking to purchase a tin of mango, and have them steep up the same tea as it was not on the menu. I would think all teas for sale should be on the menu? We came to a compromise of them steeping up some from the sampler and not pillaging from my tin.
The tea was a nice translucent reddish brown color and tasted like sweet dried mango pieces in a medium bodied black tea. It was not as good as the thepuriTea mango black we adore so much but a good second place.
Overall the staff was helpful, and stayed out of our way while we chatted, drank, ate and had a great time! We never felt rushed.
I think next time we are in New York I might wish to do a brunch there with a mimosa and then some tea.
I had purchased a Fantasy Mango Souvenir, the shopping bag was a very unique bag made of recycled newsprint and twine! I do love when the bags are special.
Through the nice I got to have a quick chat with the owner, and the waiter. Both of them were very helpful and happy.
The owner stopped over to offer me a tin of berry or plum tea, I choose plum and was gifted a tin of the Topped Fresh Plum Pleasure! I can’t wait to try some. (If I get home on time tonight I can have it then.) An unnecessary and very kind gesture on his part.
The bill with tip came to a bit over 200$, more than I was planning to spend, but we also had twice as many people as I planned for. Keep in mind this is an expensive area, the price seems in line with the area. The tea was high quality, the Champaign was nice (not an expert), and the food was good. Nothing at all to complain about, I recommend you stop in.