Tea Drunk Edit

4 ratings
1 2 3 4 5
Type Tea Shop
Style Asian
Serves Loose-leaf
Features Tastings, Tea ceremony, Free wi-fi
Good For Dates, Groups, Meetings
Hours
Mon Sun 12:00 PM 11:00 PM

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Photo submitted by BigDaddy

3 Reviews

Tea Drunk in NewYork, New York
5/5
Edit
Ellen rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

Awesome community of tea geeks. Offers the real experience of Chinese style tea (gong fu). The real highlight is the weekly Tuesday night Tea-Off!

Tea Drunk in NewYork, New York
4/5
Edit
Ben Marcus-Willers (馬維彬) rated this place
4/5
and said Edit

For more detailed info on how I rate places, check out my bio.

This tea company is very unique to the industry, and so merits a long review. If you don’t have the patience to read the whole thing, here’s what you should know:

Tea Quality: Highest – Phenomenal, truly unmatched in its excellence
Tea Selection: Large
Teaware Quality: High
Teaware Selection: Medium
Shop Atmosphere: Average – Cramped, unfitting music, fluorescent lighting
Employees’ Knowledge: Intermediate – Expert
Quality of Service: Mediocre
Offers Tea Tasting/Ceremony: Yes, Paid
Tea Price: $$$$
Teaware Price: $$$
Overall Value: Average
Recommend: Yes, because of the quality of their tea


And now for the full review:

I’ll start with the positives –
Depending on how much of a tea geek you are, the most important thing to look for in a tea company is not the branding, not the name, not how many years it’s been around – it’s the tea itself (the quality and the selection available). I can say with confidence that Tea Drunk offers one of the most impressive selections of traditional Chinese tea available in the world (I’ve been to many tea shops throughout both the U.S. as well as China and Taiwan, and what Tea Drunk offers is incredibly rare).
Backpacking alone to remote villages in rural China, the lengths to which Tea Drunk’s founder and owner, Shunan, goes to source each tea are truly unparalleled in the industry. They also afford the teas she sells the title of “true origin,” an appellation that makes terms like “single origin” and “superior grade” sound like child’s play.
True origin not only means that the teas come from a single farm, more impressively it means that that farm is located in the birthplace of that type of tea and that the tea is purchased directly from the small family farmers who make it. For example, Tea Drunk’s Dragonwell teas are from small farms on 獅峰 (Shifeng, or Lion’s Peak near Hangzhou), the birthplace of Dragonwell and respected to this day for producing the most desirable (and delicious) versions of this tea. Her Taiping Houkui teas are from the small village where the legend of Houkui tea began, and the list goes on.
And the selection of these “true origin” teas that Tea Drunk offers is far from skimpy, with over 90 different teas from which to choose – Shunan claims that, along with her partner store in Beijing, this is the largest single collection of true origin teas in the world.
Now, you might be wondering, does this whole “true origin” thing really make that big of a difference, especially compared with respectably high-quality single origin teas, etc.? The answer is a resounding YES! Firstly, in terms of flavor, there are notes in Tea Drunks true origin teas that I haven’t tasted in even the highest quality single origin alternatives. There is a richness and depth, a complexity and balance that simply has to be tasted to be understood. But there is a whole other aspect of the “true origin” philosophy that would merit their purchase even if they didn’t taste as incredibly delicious, and that is their sociocultural impact. Tea Drunk works with local authorities in rural China to promote traditional methods of harvesting and processing tea, ensuring that this cultural art continues to thrive even in the face of lucrative industrialized methods; purchasing from these small true origin farmers proves to them that the business is still viable.
I hope after reading this you have some understanding of what makes Tea Drunk such a remarkable company in its industry. You might even be wondering why, if I rave so much about the company’s virtues, I don’t give it five stars.

For that, I will move on to what I view as Tea Drunk’s shortcomings. If Tea Drunk was just a tea company – and by that I mean if they didn’t have a physical full-service retail location, but rather only sold their teas – I would have unreservedly given them a full five stars. However, they’re not just a tea company; they’re a tea house, and with that comes a whole other layer of expectations and responsibilities.
Oddly, a tea house’s success has almost nothing to do with their teas, and instead everything to do with atmosphere and service.
In the first of these categories, atmosphere, Tea Drunk scores average. Granted, space in New York is hard to come by, but the store is very cramped and the layout is not necessarily the most efficient. The color of the fluorescent lighting creates an artificial feeling and the music they play is anything but fitting to the product they sell.
My greatest criticism, however, is the service. Perhaps because of the store’s long, narrow layout, or for another reason, some of the employees have a knack for ignoring their customers’ needs (especially those seated at the cramped tables instead of the central bar). During my first trip to the store, where a friend and I payed $17 for a tasting of their Mi Lan Xiang (Honey Orchid) Phoenix Oolong, we experienced multiple gaps in service when the employee should have been brewing our tea (as they were in possession of the water, not us).
A second problem with service is some of the employees’ brewing methods. When our server finally did pour our tea, they were clearly inexperienced in traditional tea brewing methods – the water they used was boiling hot (far too hot for an oolong) and they let the tea sit for too long, destroying what would have been an incredible flavor and effectively wasting our $17. I have seen other customers experience similar problems here, some going around ten minutes without service.

Finally, as a note separate from either the positives or negatives sections, the price of tea at Tea Drunk is VERY high. As an example, their “Rou Gui 2013 True Cliff” Wuyi Oolong sells for $56 per ounce which, if brewed in a traditional style, will last around 5 or 6 gongfu cha sessions. A similar Wuyi Oolong at the Chinese tea shop I usually buy from costs $10 more for 4 ounces. In all honesty, though, I must say their teas are worth it. Keeping in mind the praise I gave Tea Drunk’s tea in the previous section – with the amount of trouble they go through to source it and its incredible flavor – you really are getting what you’re paying for, so I’m not going to call this a drawback.

All in all, while I can’t say I recommend paying for their tasting service in-shop (unless you get Shunan herself to be your server, as she is incredibly experienced and knowledgeable in her field), if you treat Tea Drunk as more of a tea company and less of a tea house, what they do commands great respect. Their role as a tea house is only part of a larger picture – what’s truly important is the tea itself and the company’s impact in the community. From the sheer quality and flavor of their tea and the large selection they offer, to they difficulties they go through to source it and the way in which they promote and protect traditional Chinese culture, Tea Drunk is truly unmatched in the tea industry in both vision and product.

Tea Drunk in NewYork, New York
5/5
Edit
BigDaddy rated this place
5/5
and said Edit

Great little tea shop specializing in Chinese tea. There is a bar and table set ups for gonfu style tea drinking. I decided to sit at the bar and chat up the server who was extremely knowledgeable in her teas. There is a menu that covers all of the styles from white to black. Within those styles there is one tea which they offer different grades. I chose to start with the high grade Bi Luo Chun as I am new to greens and was curious if I had been doing the preparation correctly at home for some BLC I bought on-line. The answer was no. She walked me through the temperature, tea/water ratio, what water to use, steeping times, vessel to use, visual inspection to show high grade versus inferior grade, she was amazing. Then the tasting, we talked about where the flavors hit and the aromas as well and to somewhere take time and sip on some plain hot water to go back to the tea and see what flavors shine. What a great experience. She then poured me a few steepings of a previous customers Ooolong that was not finished, very generous in deed. By then a few other customers arrived and sat at the bar and we had a tea-fest. We all shared our teas (BLC, Shou and Lapsang Souchong)and not a bad one in the bunch. She also shared her private tea that she drinks for herself, made by a friend in China. I need one of those friends. I had a great night. The shop also carries tea-ware for sale, all things gongfu. There are limited to go cups of tea but that will change as the shop gets more popular. As of right now plan on bringing cash because the internet provider is dragging its heels to get the place up and running. You can also sign up on their website for tea memberships. I truly feel blessed to have a teashop to call my own now.