Online Tea Directory: A Guide to Good Tea
By Michael Cramer
With a coffee-chain outpost on seeming every corner, where does one go for a decent cup of tea? Though in retrospect, that sounds a bit harsh. For some coffee places do try to offer good tea. Two that easily come to mind are Peets and Coffee Bean. Both have their roots in sunny California, where an appreciation of good tea runs a bit deeper than in other parts of the country. And though tea plays second fiddle to coffee in both companies, a decent cup of Darjeeling or Oolong is available in nearly all their stores. In sharp contrast to Starbucks, the coffee behemoth that swallowed Tazo Tea a few years back. The company's teas have very pleasant name like "refresh" and "passion," which unfortunately their bland taste seems incapable of matching. Not much different from the ubiquitous Lipton. Who wants to go out of their way for that?
But the story does have a happy ending. For the void that the coffee giants have been slow to address has been a boon for entrepreneurs all across the country. And so the number of tea rooms, tea cafes, and tea bars is growing like mushrooms after a heavy rain. Notices of new openings arrive weekly, with some - like Moby's New York-based Teany - generating a nice fanfare of publicity.
Like their coffee brethren, tearooms seem to cluster in metropolitan areas, often in proximity to schools and universities. Unlike a few years ago, their distribution is no longer heavily skewed in favor of the West Coast. A decent cup of tea may now be found in almost any large city. And in just New York alone, the last few years saw an opening of no fewer than a dozen such places, all doing booming business and inspiring others to follow in their steps. More are surely on the way.
This increase in number had gone step-in-step with a widening of choices. Historically, tearooms tended to recall their British roots. Bone china and cozys were at the center of events. And cucumber sandwiches were invariably on the menu. The spirit of England is alive and well at placed like Lisa's Tea Treasures in California or Tea and Sympathy in New York. But a number of fresher concepts have been tried with equal success.
Some emphasize tea's Asian roots, while others aim for the hip urban feel. Another trend is to combine tea and antiques. Or teas and art. Or with a bit more imagination, horror. The options are many. And just when you think you've seen it all, a new concept is attempted. Adding a fresh spin to the age-old drink.
With so much good tea abound, how do you stay abreast of its many options? To know when a cool place opened. Or a bad one closed. And which has the best tea? A directory of tearooms might just do the trick.
It just so happens that we are proud to introduce one. It's called TeaMap. It is a work in progress that we hope you'll help us complete. For we envision TeaMap being not just a repository of names and addresses, but a living guide to the best tea around. Animated with the thoughts and memories of all your pleasant moments. As well as any disappointments. Unbiased reviews is what we are after. And if you have any to share, we would be pleased to have them.
Other features will include a photo of both the inside and outside of each tearooms profiled. As well as it location on the map. We hope this will make finding it just a bit easier.
And we are asking proprietors to volunteer a special offer for all TeaMap visitors. A free cup of tea. Or a discount on in-store merchandize. A few are on offer at the moment. We hope to bringing you many more in the days to come.
So if you are looking for a great tea house in your neck of the woods. Or traveling to another part of the country, and wondering if good tea may be at hand, we have the answer. Please visit TeaMap soon to find businesses worthy of your attention. If any are familiar to you, we hope you'll post a review. And if we had inadvertently overlooked any of your favorites, please add them to our list.
We hope you find TeaMap both useful and interesting. And thank you in advance for helping us make it even better.