Friday, May 2, 2008

Eat Out Awards: Amai (Winner)

Although Amai's teahouse appeared in NYC only last year, you may have seen their products before. Before serving up tea and sweets near Union Square, they were a successful bakehouse, selling their charmingly packaged, all-natural tea sweets (complete with teas and tisanes as ingredients) and botanical brownies to upscale retailers such as SoHo's Dean & Deluca.

In addition to cookies and brownies, the teahouse offers tea cupcakes and other tea sweets, sandwiches, and a fairly large tea menu. The tea menu has a good mix of flavored/blended and unflavored/blended teas, and is very unique in that it lists the wholesaler for each tea. I had the chance to talk with Amai's owner, Kelli, around when their teahouse opened. She told me that she decided to take the "naming names" approach because she sees no reason to be secretive about it--she's proud of her suppliers' teas and would be glad to have you buy them from her or from them. While this may be taboo to many a tea retailer, for more casual/less obsessed tea-drinking clients it's a great way to branch out and try new teas based on more than just "I like black tea" and the like.

The tearoom is somewhat small, but its convenient location and relaxed feel make it great for popping in or for chilling out. My favorite bonus to visiting Amai--the indie rock vibe that comes across in both the music (early Modest Mouse, The Shins, etc.) and the use of an ultimate hipster furniture piece/card catalog to hold loose tea leaves. Cool.

Congrats, Amai! I wish you many years of success and happiness!

Amai Tea and Bake House
171 3rd Ave between 16th and 17th Streets
Monday-Saturday 8AM-10PM
Sunday 10AM-5PM


Brianne said...

Looks like a fantastic place, I'll have to check it out next time I'm in NY. Also nice to see that a younger, more hip group of people are starting to go out for tea! (i'm sure the atmosphere change is a big help!)

Tetulia Tea

Steph said...

I soooooo want to find a way to make it to NY to try these places!