Among the hustle and bustle of the hip and lively neighborhood of Williamsburg Brooklyn, it might be easy to miss a new destination for tea enthusiasts. Last March a cozy tea café called Tea Bar opened on the corner of Driggs and North 9th streets.
The owner, Kinga Zablocki, is a young entrepreneur who grew up in this rapidly changing pocket of northern Brooklyn. For her, Williamsburg was an obviously ideal location for opening a tea café, not just because it is so popular with tourists and New Yorkers alike these days, but because the neighborhood was lacking any space like she wanted to create. Zablocki explained, “Williamsburg has such a big coffee culture, but there weren’t any spots for tea drinkers. While coffee is a strong, energizing drink, tea creates a more serene setting where people can sit and read a book.”
When she explored the comparative landscape of tea spots in New York City, she found great places like Tea & Sympathy and the Russian Tea Room, which were more formal with full menus and tea ceremonies. She also explored the chain retailers like Argo and Teavana, but she didn’t really find a unique and cozy spot to have that cup of good loose leaf tea with her book.
Zablocki got her inspiration for Tea Bar while attending school in Boston. She recalls a great tea café there called Tealuxe where people with pots of tea had quiet conversations and read. She found the atmosphere calming in contrast to the lively local coffee shops. Tealuxe has since closed, but her Tea Bar offers a similar setting. The café is not loud and people sit with laptops to get work done in the quiet environment that they may not have at their homes. It’s clear that Tea Bar is a great workspace and a meeting space for locals.
Tea Bar offers more than 70 varieties of tea, far more than any other retailer in the neighborhood. Because Zablocki has collected teas her whole life, it was an easy transition for her to compile a complex assortment for a tea café. One of Tea Bar’s specialties is their selection of cold brew teas. In the summertime, the tea is brewed overnight in the fridge, which brings down the astringency and brings out the flavors and colors of the tea. Since there is no need to add ice, the strength and flavors are not diluted. Customers responded positively to cold-brewed tea as a unique and exciting stronger brew that is cool and refreshing.
In winter, customers can come in to Tea Bar to warm up. It is a very cozy environment with twinkling lights, fresh cookies and simple snacks.
She is excited by the expansion of the tea industry and tea varieties available in the United States, and was eager to become part of the growing community of young, health-savvy people interested in trying new teas. She reminds customers not to worry about bringing along their diehard coffee friends; Tea Bar serves good coffee too.
506 Driggs Ave,, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Neighborhood: Williamsburg – North Side
Hours: Mon-Fri 7 am – 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 8 pm; Sun 9 am – 7 pm
Contact: [email protected]