Tea-ing off

Hastings Tea – the cozy shop in White Plains – is a good example of creating what you desire.

Banker Joan Jia and trial lawyer Robert Peirce share a passion for each other and one thing more – a good cup of tea.

So the Hastings-on-Hudson couple looked around for places that served one. But while bevvie-seekers have no trouble finding coffeehouses on every other corner, they find that teahouses are rarer in this country. (Worldwide, tea is more popular, particularly in Asia and the former Soviet Union.)

“We love tea,” Jia says, “and we wanted to find a place to serve tea instead of coffee.”

Jia and Peirce scoured WAG country before settling on a 750-square-foot shop on the first floor of a building across from City Center on Main Street.

“The idea was born while we were sitting in a diner in Hastings-on-Hudson lamenting the fact that we couldn’t find a good cup of tea,” Peirce says. Hence the name, Hastings Tea. Besides, it sounds so veddy British, doesn’t it?

But the shop, which just celebrated its first anniversary, has a cheery, modern American feel and Zen vibe – with its lime green walls and tables, black chairs, Chinese tea sets and other tea paraphernalia contained in brightly patterned oval boxes decorated with butterflies and exhortations like “Dream Big.” It’s such a comfortable and comforting atmosphere, but what really makes it so is not the décor, not even the tea, but the staff led by Jia and Peirce. On this particular day, the reporter is experiencing a sinus attack, and they are all soothing solicitousness with freshly brewed oolong tea served in a sparely elegant glass teapot that certainly helps to open up the sinuses.

Iron Goddess Oolong and the more intense Imperial Iron Goddess Oolong are two of the 20 loose teas Hastings Tea brews or sells, everything from English Breakfast Supreme and High Mountain Darjeeling to South Africa Rooibos, a robust red tea; Peony White Tea; Dragon Mao Feng Green Tea; and Jasmine Green Blossom. Most are organic, although fruit teas cannot be certified as such. And while Hastings Tea doesn’t have decaffeinated tea, Peirce says, it does serve some caffeine-free teas. (Tea by dry weight actually has more caffeine than coffee, but once you brew it, a lot of tea’s caffeine is lost. Decaf tea or coffee retains some caffeine. Beverages that contain no caffeine are labeled “caffeine free.”)

In addition, there are signature drinks like Southern Sweet (black tea, lemon, mint and honey) and Green Tea Ginger Twist (green tea, ginger, honey) as well as the FrosTea Smoothie, your choice of black, oolong, green or herbal tea and a variety of summer fruits. And of course, there’s the ever-popular chai latte, made with chai, a heavily spiced Indian tea.

The menu also includes light fare and an assortment of scones, biscotti, blondies and brownies from Cathy’s Biscotti and Sweet Treats of White Plains.

The tea is served in cast iron or glass pots. Jia recommends serving strong teas like oolong and black teas in cast iron; green and herbal teas in glass. Ceramic teapots are good for any type of tea. Certain tea leaves like oolong can be re-brewed; green tea, never, Jia says.

One way to drink tea is Chinese-style. Place the leaves in the bottom of the cup, add hot water, cover to let the tea steep and drink, Jia says. As many people don’t like the tea leaves at play among their teeth, Jia says you can always use a tea infuser. Her shop includes glass cups with silver infusers and lids. When the tea is ready, you simply remove the lid and infuser and enjoy your cuppa.

So where does this leave those who need their jolt of java? Peirce says he understands that folks like to start their day with a cup of joe, then ease into tea in the afternoon. So the shop serves a variety of coffee drinks as well made with coffee by Maison Camus, the French-based Cognac company that is branching out. (Camus has an office in Harrison.)

So you see, coffee lovers: Hastings Tea loves you, too.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Hastings Tea is at 235 Main St. in White Plains. For more, call 914-428-1000 or visit hastingstea.com. 

Fit for a goddess (or her consort)

Iron Goddess Oolong is known for its fresh, orchid flavor and clean finish. Hastings Tea’s signature drink, Honey Rose Oolong, brings together oolong’s orchid flavor with a gentle fragrance of rose. Slightly sweetened with natural honey, this drink is a must-have in the hot summer months.

Ingredients

·         3 teaspoons of Iron Goddess Oolong tea

·         12 ounces of water

·         2 teaspoons rose extract

·         3 teaspoons honey

Instructions

·         Steam the tea in water for 4 minutes.

·         Pour brewed tea into cup and allow to cool.

·         Fill a 12-ounce cup with ice.

·         Add rose extract and honey.

·         Fill the glass with oolong tea.

·         Stir and enjoy!

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