It would be easy to overlook Gong Fu Tea on a stroll through the East Village, located as it is on a cross street rather than along the main drags of Grand and Locust. But it's worth the detour, especially for tea-lovers or anyone seeking a few moments of Zen-like tranquility in the heart of the city.
The first thing you'll notice is how quiet it is—almost hushed—with serene green walls and not-too-bright lighting. Jars of loose-leaf teas line the wood shelves behind the counter, and customers can also browse an array of tea accoutrements, including darling little Asian teapots. A fun gimmick: A mod-looking wall houses illuminated glass jars of fragrant tea you sniff as you decide what to buy. Flavors include Black Mango (specked with bright yellow marigold petals), Cherry Blossom green tea and the colorful Fruit Fantasia.
If you choose to enjoy a cup of hot or iced tea in the store, sit at window tables, quieter seats hidden behind a shelving unit, or on Japanese-style floor cushions in an even more private back room.