Thursday, October 22, 2009

If you can drink it there ...

The Post this week printed a feature about afternoon tea in Manhattan. The premise is that young hipsters are making the tradition trendy. Even Lourdes, Madonna's spawn, drops in for tea after emerging from her Upper East Side school. But the meat of the story is a good round-up of a few choice locations to enjoy great afternoon tea.

Makes me hanker for my own Manhattan tea days. When I was a layabout on the Columbia campus during a midcareer journalism fellowship, I spent countless evenings holed up in Tealuxe. This was in 2000-01, when the Harvard Square shop had opened a few franchises in New York. They didn't last, but the one at 116th and Broadway kept me propped up for nearly a year. They had a green Earl Grey that I consumed by the tanker-load, and they made fantastic toasted sandwiches with sandwich presses. What I wouldn't give for their assam tea and a PB&honey sandwich today.

Buzzing from the academic environment and the tea, I would frequently emerge from the teahouse and scribble things like this in my journal ...

After the evening reading inside Tealuxe, I emerged to a steel blue night just past twilight. The campus arteries flowed with students, youth, ambition, ye olde lust for life. When I left the journalism building and rounded the corner onto the College Walk, there she was – heavy-set, satiated mamma moon. She hung in the sky glowing softly in a faint haze, a warm ivory light, the romantic reflection of enlightenment itself, illuminating this stout campus of thinking men and women. By the time I reached Morningside, she was awesome over the city. I stood on deck at the 116th overlook, gazing over Harlem. The city, alive with restless pinpoints of light, met the sky in a vaguely green aura, an organic soup, as if the whole of Manhattan tonight were thriving in a nutrient fluid, the same kind of phosphorescent oozing yolk that nurtured the planet’s first mating spark of life. Swimming through the soup like a school of electric eels, neatly spaced one after the other, were the planes, the ever-present planes, on line to land at La Guardia airport just beyond the power plant. Always arriving, tonight from the north, always delivering new molecules to the soup, always open the lines of transport, of escape, of new morés, of new accents, of new breath and body odour. Even the park was alive, hibernating below me, a bristly strip of brown twigs now golden and tipped with new potential underneath the sodium lights along the walks. The red and gold lights of the Apollo Theater marquee centered the scene several blocks away. Carl, the stony Hungarian freedom fighter, stubbornly kept his back to the majesty of it all.

I miss Manhattan. I should go see "New York, I Love You."

Me in NYC, 2000, with my favorite blue iron teapot on the coffee table.
(Furnished apt. — the curtains were NOT mine!)

1 comment:

  1. That's not too bad of writing. I wouldn't mind seeing such exciting descriptions of an experience going to a tea room. Or perhaps it could translate into a tea-tasting. --Teaternity