Room for Tea NYC
It’s no secret that in New York, the accepted order of caffeinated beverages of choice is coffee, coke, and then, if you dare, chamomile. We’re long past the days of tea parties and parlors. The greater the concentration of caffeine, the closer you are to having the traits of a bona fide New Yorker (boisterous, hardheaded, etc) -- at least according to Malcolm Gladwell, who in his essay Java Man, outlines the characteristics of coffee vs. tea.
But Room for Tea, an exhibition on tea culture and diversity, is here to change New Yorker’s snobby, elitist attitude toward the beverage. Created by Parsons graduate Iris Xing, the exhibition features multiple interactive, immersive rooms that celebrate tea’s rich, international history.
Upon entering the exhibition, guests are welcomed into the Summer Boba Court, in which they can try their hand at catapulting pink, plastic “boba balls” into the matching basketball hoops nailed to the wall. But don’t spend all your time playing boba basketball -- you won’t want to miss the next room!
Named the Labyrinth of Tea Origin, the second room of the Room for Tea exhibit features long, winding curtains which guests must navigate in order to make it on time for the featured Japanese Tea Ceremony. Here, guests can unwind while learning about traditional Japanese tea culture, and of course, enjoying a pot of hot tea.
Directly across from the Labyrinth of Tea Origin is the room celebrating Japanese Matcha Culture, which features beautiful paper lanterns and cherry blossom petals! It was almost my favorite room in the exhibit, but in the end, I have to give it to The Milk Tea Metropolis Room, which takes up the entirety of the second floor.
The Milk Tea Metropolis room is dedicated to milk tea culture in Hong Kong, where milk tea became popular after it was introduced by the British. Designed in true Hong Kong style, the room features plenty of vibrant neon signs, as well as subtle references to popular Hong Kong culture: keep an eye out for the pineapple can from Chungking Express!
Tea lover or not, there’s a lot to learn from the Room for Tea exhibition, as well as plenty of samples to change your mind! And as an added bonus, all proceeds from the pop-up will go towards the Trees for the Future Forest Garden program. So be sure to check out the exhibit! Room For Tea, located at 371 Broadway, is currently open, and will officially close on September 22nd. For more information, visit https://www.roomforteanyc.com/, or their instagram, @roomforteanyc.