My fascination with Alice’s Tea Cup all started with a book. I know some of you may be thinking about Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but it was actually the Alice’s Tea Cup cookbook by Haley and Lauren Fox that initially sparked my interest.
The book is written by sisters with a “tea turned on its ear” philosophy that gives a big shrug to at all those proper refinements we’ve come to expect from a traditional tea time experience. The cookbook not only covers tea parties, but also has a few recipes for infusing tea into food–a fresh concept when the book first hit shelves a few years back.Unusual doesn’t even begin to describe Alice’s Tea Cup. Eccentric is a better word. On my over way to Central Park, I stopped by Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter II. I heard that they served tea cocktails, and that was enough to get me in the door.
Downstairs, the first thing you’ll notice when you step inside the tea shop is a large bakery case for their rustic scones. Scones are a big deal at Alice’s Tea Cup–Pumpkin, Carrot Cake, and Mixed Berry among the most popular. On any given day, you’ll find the Scones of the Day posted on their Twitter page. For being so child friendly, the shop has quite an expansive tea list. From Peach Tea with Flowers to fancier brews like a Castleton Estate Vintage, the menu is huge. One tea that caught my eye was the Faerie Potion, a mix of osmanthus, elderflowers, and lavender. I didn’t end up trying it, but sounds magical, doesn’t it?On your way upstairs, you’ll encounter hand-painted artwork and charming wonderland-inspired quotes. Here, Alice is a bit meaner and grumpier than she is in the Disney film.
Upstairs, you’ll find high ceilings and lots of light. And, of course, there are hanging butterflies at every turn.If you plan on coming here, I’d really suggest attending at a traditional tea time, later in the day, so that you can soak in some of the more interesting aspects of this tea spot. You’ll be able to avoid the larger crowds and expected meltdowns bound to happen at a place as kid-friendly as this is.
As I usually do, I ordered the house specialty tea, which in this case was Alice’s Tea, a black and green tea mixed with roses and vanilla. The hubby got the Almond Tea, which is basically a black tea with very mild notes of almond.
Even though it was the alcoholic drinks that got me in the door, sadly, I didn’t end up ordering one. If I had come later in the day (they are open ’till 8pm!), I would have ordered The Duchess, a cucumber based cocktail with lemon juice and gin, infused with French Vervain herbal tea. I ordered the Lapsang Souchong Smoked Chicken and Cucumber & Watercress Sandwiches, which were definitely on the rustic side. Word to the soft and fluffy tea sandwich lover: don’t be surprised when you find those browned bits untrimmed, because yes, Alice’s Tea Cup is fearless!
It’s easy to skip over the desserts when you have scones like these. Expect to take some leftovers home (or over to Central Park) to enjoy. These scones are gigantic to say the least, full of spices, fruits, and in some cases, even veggies and meat.
It goes without saying that this is a fantastic place to bring the kiddos. There’s even a hallway dedicated to adorable photos of the little ones. The staff are super attentive and there’s even an instructional poster on how to prevent choking in case things don’t go as planned. Here are some glimpses into the window box tables at Alice’s Tea Cup. Lots of vintage treasures to be found in each, from kind-of-creepy dolls (ok, really creepy…) to out-of-date prints. No two tables are alike!According the staff, Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter I is on the smaller side while Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter III suits an upscale crowd. Chapter II is ideal for larger parties, as it has a spacious room upstairs, semi-private and separated from the rest of the restaurant. Before you leave, you might want to take some of their tea home to accompany those scone leftovers you’re bound to end up with. They have so many teas here, if you only enjoy one with your meal you’ve barely started to explore the endless number of options.
Literally every corner of Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter II is layered with something curious and amusing. Tea isn’t proper, refined, or stuffy here. It’s fun and in-your-face, just as the kids and the young at heart like it!
Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter II
156 E 64th Street
New York, NY 10065