I can’t think of a better time than now, in the midst of a cold and blustery winter (#Jonas), to introduce you all to a lovely and serene tea shop called Té Company. Nestled in a cozy, tucked away corner of the West Village, Té Company provides a quiet spot to curl up with a warm cup of their speciality: delicious and flavorful oolong teas. Oolong is a daily ritual in Taiwan, where founder Elena Té grew up, and she uses her intimate knowledge of the tea to source extremely high-quality and rare cultivars for the shop. She personally knows the producers from which she buys and understands every step of the process – from their farming practices to to which varieties they plant to how they process the tea, and more – thus ensuring that Té Company is providing a product far superior to those of more commercialized tea companies. Read on to take a peek into this lovely shop…
I took these pictures back in the fall, when they had the floors decorated with these lovely, crunchy autumn leaves. I guess now to be seasonally appropriate they could bring in a few snowdrifts 🙂
A map of Taiwan hangs in this cozy reading nook, so you can get a sense of the region your tea hails from.
Green Sanctuary Roast, one of the oolong varietals available at the shop, is grown by actual monks and is known as Iron Goddess in Taiwan. Though they don’t specifically highlight it, many of the teas in the shop are organic – which is great because conventional tea is typically grown with lots of pesticides.
Té Company serves other varieties of tea aside from oolong, as well as small plates and snacks.
Sitting down and enjoying tea and conversation with Elena, I found out so many interesting facts about tea. It was actually very similar to a wine tasting – I learned that the same varietal of a tea can have completely different flavor profiles depending on 1. in what type of environment it is grown (the soil, the terrain, the weather), and 2. how a particular producer processes it (the oxidizing, drying, and roasting of the tea leaves).
There are also many flavors and notes in different types of tea, just like in wines. For example, the Green Sanctuary Roast that we sipped is medium-bodied and smooth, with flavors of subtle vanilla and toasted barley. Of course, like with wine, it takes time to be able to pick out these flavors – all I tasted was delicious, warm tea! I don’t drink much tea on my own, (yet) but I truly enjoyed the varieties at Té Company, as well as the peaceful atmosphere.
Tea leaves…never knew what they really looked like. All I’ve really ever seen are the dried, crumbled teas.
Die for these shiny gold tea canisters.
More tea leaves.
You can always just pop into Té Company to sip tea and read the paper, but if you’re interested in scheduling a tea tasting with Elena, you can contact her here. It’s pretty similar to a wine tasting and SO interesting to learn the complexities behind tea and the stories behind the rare varietals that they have in the shop. I highly recommend it! Online ordering is also available for those who aren’t local.
163 West 10th Street
Tuesday-Sunday 9AM-7PM, closed Mondays
One final note I would like to make – you may want to look at the tea you have in your home or that you typically buy and check the ingredient label. MANY flavored teas list “natural flavors,” (which could be anything, including chemicals created in a food lab) “artificial flavors” and other crappy ingredients on their labels. Tea is the most natural thing in the world – as you can see from the pictures above, it’s a leaf! Why should there be fake flavoring and fragrances in it? For many mass-produced flavored teas (especially the ones you see nowadays, like “apple pie tea” and “gingerbread” tea) the flavor is added by spraying fragrance onto the leaf. That’s not something I would want to drink. I recommend buying organic and making sure you read the ingredient label, or speak to the purveyor if possible, before purchasing.
photos by me