What’s this … Argo Tea, open? Oh sweet mother of tea, I’m in trouble now.
Here I was, just last Tuesday drinking in oversized photos of such luscious tea beverages as Earl Grey Vanilla Crème and Tea Sangria (check out the menu here, and see the photo below) and wondering how long I’d have to wait.
In fact, I needed only wait until Friday — the pictures came down to reveal an airy, modern tea shop; smiling baristas chat with customers about the rewards program (it’s one of those accumulate points for free tea deals) and rave about the seasonal ValenTea Passion — an herbal blend of passion fruit and hibiscus flowers that’s being rationed out in 2 oz. samples — or, perhaps, one of the tea time appropriate finger sandwiches.
Long tubes of loose tea along the back wall look to be arranged by color, when in fact it’s a gradation of tea type: black teas fade into green teas, which fade into herbal and other exotic tea types.
Up close, they’re beautiful: Giant, dried balls of jasmine tea (a personal favorite); a Masala chai flecked with dried ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and vanilla; a genmaicha — green tea blended with roasted brown rice — that, blended with some steamed milk and a caramel flavor shot “tastes just like caramel corn,” promises a barista.
(FYI: The staff is perhaps overly friendly here by New York standards — but they are also full of useful information.)
“Hmm… Two free hours of wifi with tea purchase, you say?”
There’s a spot at that oversized communal table that’s got my name on it — the only problem I foresee is once the word’s out it’ll be hard to get a seat. On Day Two, which also happens to be an early Saturday evening, the table was already covered in laptops and newspapers.
Argo Tea may have taken its sweet time getting here — after opening 15 locations in Chicago, the brand has finally expanded to New York — but it looks like it’s settling in quickly.
Argo Tea, 949 Broadway, at 22nd Street, 646-755-7262. Additional locations opening at NYU and Columbus circle presently.