It’s great to have this place in midtown, but I wish it felt more homey, and less corporate. There is a ‘self serve’ area where you can create your own bags of bulk tea to take home. The staff will also brew these teas by the cup. The signs indicate the prices, and how long the tea needs to steep. I like that you could see each type of tea available, and smell them as well. But a pet peeve of mine is when a shop stores their tea in glass or other translucent containers. The light and heat from the sun couldruin the taste of the tea much quicker than if it was stored in an opaque container. I assume that the tea in these vessels has a high turnover rate, so it probably isn’t much of an issue here. It’s also a good way to showcase the tea.
I tried a cup of Nilgiri Black tea. I’ve never had this Indian black tea before. My tea order was up rather quickly- it didn’t feel like the 4-5 minute steep time that was suggested. There was nothing about the tea or the aroma that jumped out at me. But it was very smooth, just not very flavorful. But I guess that is typical of a generic black tea, especially at a low price point. It would probably work well as a base for the many flavored tea drinks that they have on the menu.
The one irritating thing about argo is that there is a huge sign outside the door that says ‘coffee so good, our tea is jealous’. argh! come on, you are a tea place, give respect to your teas and leave the coffee to the starbucks down the street.
I once visited their beautifully rustic shop in upstate NY, and have been eager to visit the new store ever since it opened. The SoHo store is quite large and airy, with a floor to ceiling shelving unit for their loose teas, very different from the cozy upstate shop. This is not a bad thing, they fit in well with the other stores in the area.
There are two parts to the store. The first is the large retail space, that has the huge tea selection, and a ‘tasting bar’ where you can sample the tea of the week, as well as any other tea you would like to try. They also have tasting flights, which look like fun. There are also shelves and tables holding teaware and bagged teas. In the back of the store there is a small cafe area, which is separated from the main space with a couple of bookcases.
The cafe has 5 tables, and a nice little bar area for a quick cup, or to order a cup to go. Cups are $3, a small pot is $6, and large $8. If you prefer to drink one of their specialty teas, you can add $1 to your order. I thinkt the prices were reasonable given the quality of their tea. There are also sweet and savory food options.
There is a large tea menu, and I decided on a white tea.I had a few questions, so one of the experts was called over to explain the differences in the white teas they had available. I chose one that sounded light but still flavorful, the Mutan white. After a few minutes I heard a timer go off, and my pot was brought over. The liquid was bright yellow, similar to other white teas that I’ve tried. The liquid was bright yellow, similar to other white teas that I’ve tried. The aroma was faintly floral and nutty. The taste had the same nuttiness, and was also a bit buttery. It had a nice smoothness, with a soft texture on the tongue. Suitable for my late afternoon tea break, but not something I’d want to drink earlier in the day. The nutty flavor lingered for quite awhile, which made me smile as I relaxed and read my book. The noise from the retail area drifts into the cafe, but it is still pleasant to sit, while reading a book and sipping tea. I was very impressed with the staff throughout the store. They were all extremely friendly, helpful, and very knowledgeable.
I love this place! It is close to my office, and feels like an oasis in midtown manhattan. They have a large selection of teas, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The service does tend to be on the slow side, so just make sure you are not in a rush when you go. Food is light and pairs well with tea.