Harney & Sons SoHo (4 reviews)
Like a previous reviewer said, this shop is very professional. It’s attractive and well organized, and the staff were very helpful and friendly. I really enjoyed the complimentary tastings, and I ended up buying a few loose leaf blends, including Russian Caravan and Spiced Plum (Herbal). I definitely would recommend this shop to fellow tea lovers.
While "professional" is not usually a word used to describe tea places, in this case it is extremely apt. From the shop space that features a wall of tea and a few teas set out for complimentary tastings, to the cafe with its extensive menu featuring descriptions of flavor for each tea, this place is the real deal for serious tea aficionados. In addition to the tea, the store often has great offerings for teaware and greeting cards, and the cafe includes tea-infused treats ranging from cheeses to ice cream that makes a delectable feast for the palate. The dark wood decor is neither too formal nor too casual. If your heart is set on tea and not on either a particularly fancy or a particularly cozy place to hang out, it's just right.
This is my absolute favorite place to buy or drink tea. The range of standard and exotic teas they have is impressive (think wall of tea canisters they need a rolling library ladder to reach the top of) and the quality of the ingredients they use is outstanding. There have been many times when I've gone in for recommendations based on other teas I've liked and each keeps getting better and better. There's a small cafe in the back that serves tea, scones, cookies, and inventive things like tea floats. You'll be waiting for a long time if you try to come on a Saturday and sit down at a table. Weekdays are best. Definitely a gem in SoHo.
The Harney's offer everything - white tea to black tea and everything in between. They source their teas from all over the world and sell them in loose leaf form (tea bags available for some but not all teas). They'll let you try any tea you want, and they'll be generous with their samples. They're friendly and knowledgeable, always making good recommendations, and always making you feel welcome. Not only are the teas good, but the scones are to die for. Can't wait till my next visit.