Resisting Temptation at Bosie Tea Parlor

MANHATTAN, New York City

“I can resist everything except temptation” Oscar Wilde once wrote, and had the bon vivant ever happened upon Bosie Tea Parlor on Morton Street in New York’s Greenwich Village he would have found resisting temptation a futile pursuit.

The eight month old shop, named after Oscar Wilde’s spoiled lover, Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, who was a decadent influence on the famous author, offers tea infused treats such as Chocolate Chai Cake, Matcha Éclairs and Darjeeling flavored macarons alongside an extensive selection of 80 hand selected teas from the shops own tea line, L’Âge de Thé.

Bosie Tea ParlorThe 600-square-foot tea salon, which includes a small retail area, is owned by two tea lovers, Nicky Dawda, a restaurateur and former hedge fund CTO, and Kiley Holiday, a yoga instructor, tea master and wellness counselor .

The two met on a yoga retreat in Guatemala in 2007 and decided to take their mutual love of tea to the next level and go into the tea business. An online business, L’Age de Thé was first in 2009, followed by a tea parlor, Bosie which opened in April of 2011.

In preparation for entering the tea business, Dawda and Holliday travelled the world, visiting estates in India, China and Sri Lanka, tasting and selecting the teas to include in their line. They also made stops at teahouses in Shanghai, London and Paris to observe and study tea service and
soak up tea culture.

Inspired by the famous tea salons and patisseries Mariage Frères and Laduree in Paris, the two decided to bring a similar concept of an intimate tea salon that serves light food and pastries to their hometown of New York City.

“There’s a big gap in European-style traditional tea salons in America and New York City,” Dawda said, who was born in Mumbai, India and grew up in a household where tea time was a daily ritual. Dawda and Holliday wanted to create a tea salon where customers would feel like they were “coming to someone’s house and having tea in their front parlor as opposed to going to a restaurant.”

Decorated simply and elegantly in warm tones with rows of gleaming gold tea canisters stacked on shelves behind a dark wood bar, the 22-seat café has such a welcoming atmosphere that customers often leave an array of items behind, including on one recent visit, an expensive watch. Customers can also enjoy a pot of tea ($5-$7 for a standard tea, $8-10 for premium tea) all cozied up in a cushy armchair  in the back of the shop called the library. This small nook features a selection of books to peruse on shelves displaying colorful teapots and decorated with photos of Oscar Wilde.

Boise Tea Parlor LibraryCustomers will also find welcoming prices at Bosie, especially for New York.

“For not more than $10 or $20 guests can enjoy splurging on a treat without breaking the bank” Dawda said. Pastry cases next to the 6 seat bar feature a wide selection of treats including croissants and scones ($2-$2.50) éclairs ($4.50) assorted tarts ($5-$6) madeleines and financiers ($1.25) an Earl Grey Mille Crepe ($5.50), Fresh Raspberry Ispahan ($6.50) and 12 varieties of $2 macarons.

All pastries are baked in a small downstairs kitchen by Chef Damien Herrgott, whose impressive
pedigree includes stints at the famous French bakeries and macaron meccas Ladurée and Pierre Hermé Paris. It was by sheer luck that Dawda and Holliday crossed paths with Herrgott, who had moved to New York City to work as executive pastry chef at Bouley Bakery and found himself unemployed after it closed in 2010.

Bosie Te ParlorBosie also offers a gently priced standard tea service ($25 for one, $47 for two) that includes a two-cup pot of tea, two small scones with clotted cream and jam, three portions of tea sandwiches, two mini tea cakes and two macarons (add $15 for a glass of Champagne and choice of pastry from the display case).

For customers looking for heartier food, Bosie doesn’t skimp on the savory side offering a selection of soups ($9), salads ($6-$9), paninis ($9-$11), quiches ($9-$11) and tea sandwich platters ($7-$9.50).

Dawda says that one way Bosie keeps its prices affordable is because of money spent up front in the marketing and travel budget that allowed him and Holliday to visit tea estates and establish relationships with the owners. Bosie gets its tea directly from the estates at reasonable prices and
doesn’t pay mark ups from middle men or distributors.

Dawda and Holliday are not relying on the tea shop part of the parlor to be the only generator of revenue. Along with the food and pastries, Dawda and Holiday intend to build their wholesale business selling loose leaf tea, teapots and tea accessories. Their line, L’Âge de Thé, is sold in the shop in 2 oz. ($6) and 4 oz. ($11) custom made canisters, as well as teapots and tea accessories.

Customers receive a dollar off their next purchase for bringing the canister back for a refill. Their online business is kept separate.

A wine and beer license is also a revenue booster, and Bosie has become a popular place for locals to stop in later on in the evening for a glass of wine or a sweet dreams blend and a dessert.

But tea is the main event at Bosie and Dawda says among the top sellers are the Organic “House Blend” Earl Grey Crème, which is blended with cornflower petals and scented with vanilla giving the tea a creamy aroma. Organic Chai Latte is also popular, as is the Organic Match Latte, which is made using steamed almond milk and flavored with jaggery, an unrefined, mineral rich sugar to maximize the health benefits.

Tea tastings and other tea-centric events are in the works for the New Year for the fledgling tea parlor, but for now Bosie Tea Parlor is tempting customers with decadent treats and perfectly brewed pots of tea. After all, who can resist temptation?