In New York City’s East Village there exists a haven for Chinese tea lovers. Tea Drunk offers an escape into a retreat of gaiwans, quiet conversations, and artisanal teas from across the Middle Kingdom.
2 elements make Tea Drunk stand out from so many tea shops in Chinatown and other cafes: the ambiance and the selection of teas.
The small space and rustic seating suggest there isn’t enough room for anything but the pure and simple. Table seating includes a tea tray, a gaiwan, and cups. There is also seating at the bar. Both invite you to turn your attention to people and tea. Gaiwans require a more focused hand for steeping and decanting.
This simplicity is served with a helping hand. For those not familiar with Chinese teas and Chinese gongfu tea service, the Tea Drunk team comes along side with hot water and a depth of knowledge to refill empty vessels and explain tea options. In the process, they help you slow down, learn, and savor tea in the midst of good company.
Tea Drunk is a place to find one of the best selections of Chinese teas in the US – not necessarily because it is the most extensive (though vast enough), but because it is intensive. You can often find several grades and versions of the same tea, like their tie guan yin. These variations allow a tea drinker to upgrade their appreciation through degrees of refinement. Besides, how many other places can you find Duck Dung Aroma (鸭屎香) wulong?
Teas are sourced by Shunan, the owner, on her trek across China. You can read about her Spring trip in this series of articles on the Tea Drunk blog.
One final note – one strong indication that the tea shop is more than usual in its authenticity: When the health inspector needs to Google the names of the teas on the menu to confirm they are the proper, Anglicized translations of the teas, you are on the right track.
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