Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Led Zep and Lusty Tea

The West Village is a destination for all things tea. As I've mentioned before, if you walk just a few blocks you can hit Bosie, Tea & Sympathy, McNulty's, DAVIDsTEA as well as The Tea Set. Since The Tea Set is one of the few West Village tea spots I haven't tried, my husband and I decided to take a lunchtime visit.

The Tea Set is a French-owned tea cafe that also has an extensive food menu. Everything appears to be eco friendly and organic, right down to the menu made out of recycled cardboard boxes. The Tea Set also sells their tea commercially, which I've recently seen in a local upscale grocery store.

Walking in to the cafe things seems rather ordinary. There is a dining area with small tables, and a cozy brick wall lined with tea and wine bottles. This is a French-owned cafe, so of course there will be wine!

As we sat and looked around, it became apparent that this was not just a snoozy, cozy tea cafe. I noticed a few books that were intriguing and a bit surprising for a tea joint...

There are many 'interesting' books lining the bench I was sitting on...

...this being the favorite
 It is a sexy tea cafe! I wondered if the young ladies and older couple lunching near us noticed these little details. The tea menu also contributed to the overall feel of the place. Looking at the menu, I was intrigued by the various sensual-sounding teas on the menu. Since I had to get back to work and don't like rooibos and herbal based teas, I decided for a basic organic Darjeeling.

But some of the more colorful teas on the menu were:

Organic Femmes Fatales, Organic Gentlemen Fusion

Organic Sensual Good Night, Organic Perry Street Je T'Aime, Organic Day & Night Sex Booster

The music added another interesting element to the mix. The entire time we were there, classic and prog rock standards were playing over the speakers. I don't mind this type of music, but it did not really blend well with the cozy, relaxing atmosphere for me.

My tea was a respectable organic Darjeeling. It had a nice bold flavor which tasted like a 2nd flush. It certainly hit the spot. But my husband's genmaicha was strangely bland. It smelled nice and toasty but the taste was flat. I'm also not a huge fan of  large mugs with infusers, as the tea cools too quickly. A teapot keeps it a bit warmer. It also looks more like something I'd use in my office, not at a cafe. But that's a small gripe. I do like that the teas are all organic.

The service was very slow, and I actually noticed our server reading a book at the front of the cafe. I'm sure he's used to most people taking their time and relaxing with their tea, but we were on our lunch break and didn't want to dawdle. He never came over to see how we were doing. My husband had to get up and ask him for the check. A friend of mine had a good experience here when the owner was present, so this may not be a common occurrence.

To briefly comment on the food, the sandwiches we ordered were not particularly flavorful, and they were overpriced for the size. I like that most of the food is organic, and the beef is grass fed, but our sandwiches were not very tasty. If you feel like having a bite to eat with your tea, I'd recommend staying with pastries and egg dishes.

The Tea Set, is a fine place for a cup of Darjeeling and some sexy reading while listening to Led Zeppelin. Not a place I would recommend wholeheartedly, but it could be a fun spot to warm up on Valentine's day with a salacious cup of tea.

The Tea Set 235 W 12TH Street NY, NY 10014

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