After a long day of hunting and gathering birthday presents for my boyfriend in the Union Square area of NYC, I decided I needed a little pick-me-up before heading home. I pass the usual fast food and drink establishments. A frosty from Wendy’s? Nah. Starbucks? Not again. Then, as if by magic, I came across a small store front with samples of tea luring passersby inside. Well, it worked on me.

What I had found was the first outpost of a new tea chain called Tavalon Tea Bar. It made me think of a place called Tealuxe, which I think started in the 90’s and eventually fizzled out, much to my dismay. They are planning on winning the hearts of tea lovers in the real world.

Tavalon is beautifully designed with lots of light colored wood and double-height ceilings. Above the register, on a second level, resides a DJ who can look out over the tea sippers from his mixing perch.

There is a narrow long table with stools, opposite a long wall displaying their teas and teapots. My favorite feature, however, is an area that houses glass test tubes of tea. You are encouraged to uncork the tubes and smell the teas to help in making your selection.

They told me they use double filtered water for their teas, and that they recommend steeping the tea for 3 minutes. I asked which tea they recommended but couldn’t get a real answer, just multiple questions about what I was looking for in a tea. Hot? Cold? Caffeine? Sweetness? Bitterness? I opted for the Indian Mint, a departure from my usual green preference, and I really enjoyed it.

Even the presentation of a to-go tea was well designed. The loose tea goes into a long cloth envelope, the top of which hangs over the side of the cup. They even had those cool plastic tops that have a little lever to close the sipping hole. Nice!

Tavalon also mixes their own teas, coming up with new and intriguing blends yielding tasty as well as beneficial results. Here’s the funny description of their “Detox” tea.

“Detox.
We’ve all been there: dazed, half-awake and sick to your stomach, and all thanks to that extra Long Island Iced Tea your friends forced you to drink. What’s the remedy? Another tea! This tavalon mix is the ideal beverage for the next day. Don’t be fooled, this infusion is not limited to hangover help! Combining energy-boosted black tea (to wake you up), ginger (to clear your mind) and peppermint (to soothe your stomach), our hangover blend is great in any situation. And the best part – it actually tastes good.”

I can’t wait for more of these to open up, particularly in the Lincoln Center area! Are you listening Tavalon? It’s great tea, it’s fast, and it’s in a beautiful, fun and welcoming environment. Tavalon says their mission is to “provide the best teas in the world in an exciting & accessible way.” They are succeeding.

Go there yourself, or check out their website which is full of all sorts of fun stuff.
Images Courtesy of tavalon.com