My obsessive inquiry into all the independently-run tea houses in New York continues. This past weekened, I paid visits to both Sympathy for the Kettle (East Village) and the Roebling Tea Room (Williamsburg). Sympathy is a small and adorable space with limited seating and tables that have antique-y maps of Paris on them. There's a big catalog of loose-leaf teas, but what intriuged me most was the opportunity to turn any form of chai, classic black, or blended black tea into a tea latte of your choice. I was disappointed in the chocolate chai latte, which tasted sort of like Ovaltine and Lipton. (Not recommended.) Next time, a plain pot of char -- perhaps their cinnamon spice? -- should do it. But the atmosphere is more than enough to lure me back.
It's hard not to really dig the vibe at the Roebling Tea Room. Dark and expansive with old wallpaper, big couches, and tiny tea lights at every table, the place feels intimate even though they've got plenty of room for a big party. And for you imbibers, they do serve beer and wine (not to mention gourmet comfort food) alongside an intense selection of teas. Here I sampled the Moon Pie, billed as a Roebling favorite blend -- another fragrant tea with notes of chocolate, but this time also vanilla and mint. Steeped for a good five minutes in verrrry hot water (no lukewarm nonsense here), add milk and honey, and you're in chocolate tea heaven. Definitely recommended.