Pinkies up! It's time for high tea.
The leisurely afternoon affair has gained popularity in the past few months in New York City, according to tea authority Kathy Chan.
"It first started with tea on the retail end," Chan says. "In the past few years a ton of tea retail shops have opened up, which trickled down into cafés and restaurants, and now afternoon tea."
A proper high tea consists of three things: finger sandwiches, scones and sweets. Many hotels here that offer afternoon tea are revamping services to make the food pairings more interesting and expanding their tea offerings, says Chan.
So clear your afternoon. Here are five places to get sipping in NYC:
Afternoon tea service at this public garden and cultural center's Café includes green, black and herbal teas along with scones, sweets and tea (add sparkling wine and strawberries for $10). The café's menu, presented by Great Performances, changes seasonally and features savory tea sandwiches like petit croquet monsieur, curry chicken salad and cucumber and roasted pepper. Tuesday through Friday at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (reservations required at least 24 hours in advance), $26-$36/person; West 249th Street and Independence Avenue in the Bronx, 718-549-3200, wavehill.org
Enjoy the panoramic views overlooking Columbus Circle from the 34th floor of the hotel's Lobby Lounge while snacking on coconut green tea tartlettes, chai-chocolate macaroons, mango raspberry tarts, tea sandwiches such as Catskill Smoked Salmon and, of course, signature teas like Rose of New York. Daily from 2:30-4:30 p.m., $48/person; 80 Columbus Circle, 212-805-8800, mandarinorien tal.com/newyork
This traditional British restaurant serves high tea by request, usually between 3 and 4:30 p.m. The tea menu features a variety from Bellocq, including Earl Grey, Mint and Gypsy Caravan, and for the treats, which are made fresh that day, there are chocolate macarons, shortbread, Victoria sponge cake, egg custard slice and scones with raspberry jam. Reservations required at least 48 hours in advance, $50/two people, $100/two people with Champagne; 24 E. 39th St., 646-837-6776, thepeacocknyc.com
Tea & Sympathy
At this tea shop, the afternoon service is actually available all day and includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry or raspberry jam and a selection of cakes along with a pot of steaming hot tea. Among the 50 varieties available, options include English breakfast, Earl Grey, blackberry, darjeeling and peppermint. Afterward, you can also peruse the shop and walk away with a cake stand, tea pot and cups to recreate at home. No reservations required, $35/person; 108 Greenwich Ave., 212-989-9735, teaandsympathynewyork.com
RoomFor a Russian twist on your typical high tea, head to this old-school restaurant. Alongside a selection of loose teas, the hearty menu features sandwiches and blinis like smoked sturgeon with dill and sour cream and caviars on blinis, as well as scones, cupcakes and petits fours for dessert. Vegetarian and gluten-free menus are also available. Daily from 2-4:30 p.m., $50-$115/person; 150 W. 57th St., 212-581-7100, russiantearoomnyc.com
High tea is a polite ordeal, but sipping for leisure doesn’t have to be prim and proper. Rather than enjoying a hot cup during the day, here are two cool cocktails using tea to try, after hours.
La Gran Fiesta
For a fruit fiesta in a glass, try this cocktail, comprised of Caliche Rum, black currant iced tea, simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, Veev Acaí Spirit and muddled raspberries. It’s garnished with a mint sprig and a blackberry. $16; Hudson Bar and Books, 636 Hudson St., 212-229-2642, barandbooks.net
Bonfire of the Calamities
At the speakeasy-style Manhattan Cricket Club, find this cocktail created by mixologist Greg Seider. Kaffir lime-infused Russian Standard Vodka, fresh lemon and agave nectar are served on the rocks with a “bonfire spritz” — a smoking mist on the top of the drink made from lapsang souchong. $14; Manhattan Cricket Club, 226 W. 78th St., 646-823-9252, mccnewyork.com