Ito En
822 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
(212) 570-2200
Hours: Daily, 12:00-4:00 pm

The folks at Ito En take their tea seriously. “We consider it like a vegetable,” says Rona Tison, Vice President of Retail Services. Indeed, the tea is shipped with as much care as the most fragile of perishable goods, and is stored in special lacquered tea boxes. Plus, the store employs a professional tea taster, as well as an in-house tea specialist who is always on-hand to answer questions and give pairing advice. Perhaps this is why Ito En is so well respected. Or it could even be the design – this small teashop is lined with glass vials, each holding a different type of tea leaf (for your sniffing and viewing pleasure). With its chic minimalist interior and wall of test tube-like bottles, the shop resembles a designer laboratory.

Ito En is located underneath a restaurant called Kai, which serves contemporary Japanese cuisine inspired by the food that traditionally accompanies tea ceremonies. Though partnered with Kai, Ito En does not sell exclusively Japanese products – a wide selection of loose leaf tea from around the world is available, as well as Kai’s popular almonds covered in chocolate and matcha (powdered green tea), and its Earl Grey-flavored candied grapefruit.