On St Marks Place is a tea shop called Physical Graffi-Tea. It opened early this summer, right off 1st Avenue, a few doors from Jane’s Sweet Buns. I’ve walked pass the shop on numerous occasions but never went inside because it looked dirty. An unsanitary sort of dirty. That same East Village space housed a vintage clothing shop for 16 years. Back then it was called Physical Graffiti, but now it’s Physical Graffi-Tea, heheh. A touch cheesy and potentially confusing for those unfamiliar with the location’s history.
But yesterday Lisa and I were caught in the rain with no umbrella. Physical Graffi-Tea was our only hope. The tea shop is slightly below ground, so watch those steps. Inside? A delightful surprise. Dark but clean with rows of silver tea tins lining the left wall, low tables and a homage to Beatles [thanks Smita!] and Led Zeppelin against the right wall.
There must have been nearly a hundred loose leaf tea selection on offer, a few iced teas which change daily, and a glass jar of fresh madelines. Prices are fair, $5 a pot brewed to order. Add $1 to share with a friend and another $1.50 for “premium” teas. We split the Milk Oolong tea, which was $7.50 to share.
It’s order at the counter, seat yourself, and linger as long as you desire. The best table is the round corner seat near the window. Perfect for a day of dark skies and pouring rain. And don’t forget to watch the tea timer! 5-7 minutes for the Milk Oolong.
Here are the leaves after the first steep. Have you tried Milk Oolong? Alexis got me obsessed with this oolong at the World Tea Expo, and it’s all I’ve wanted to drink since.
As the name suggests, the brewed tea is unusually buttery and milky fragrant with flavors reminding me of White Rabbit candy. You can steep it over and over again, the whole rolled leaves unfurl just a little more after each sip, the liquid a golden caramel colour, seriously beautiful. Count me a convert, to think I’ve missed out all summer. No worries, it’ll be even better in the fall, cool weather, cozy sweaters and a knitted scarf.
96 St Marks Place
New York, NY 10009