If you're shopping for tiaras, cosmetics or fine pearls while in Tokyo, you know you'll need to take a small tea break at some point. Lucky for us, Mikimoto has it's own Lounge where you can savor sweets made by Japan’s famous patissier, Hideo Yokota, and special tea blends available only at this location. Toyoo Ito, a Japanese architect that designed multiple buildings in Japan and all over the world, designed the world’s best pearl distributor Mikimoto’s boutique in Ginza.
This year the Mikimoto company will be celebrating their 120th anniversary!
Read about Kokichi Mikimoto and the origins of these highly revered pearls here.
The have a gorgeous selection of desserts. This is the menu that is displayed in the lobby before entering the elevators to the 3rd floor.
We didn't need reservations this time because it was a little late in the afternoon, but if you're planning on visiting I highly recommend making reservations in advance.
It was definitely very posh and Clarissa was ultra excited to have tea and dessert. A lot of tea lounges require children to be at least 6 years of age, but Clarissa is a very well-behaved young lady so they made an exception.
If you like everything you try, you can buy the teas to go before leaving.
The space is airy and full of natural night.
Recognize these sugars?
We had an excellent hostess that told us all about Mikimoto's exclusive tea blends.
She brought out all the teas for us to smell and allowed us to look and touch all the dry leaves.
All their pastries are made by Chef Hideo Yokota. It was so difficult deciding on just two!
The Pearl - A passionfruit parfait...is their signature dessert for obvious reasons. This photo does not do it justice.
All their original tea blends are organic and from China. They have three and we ordered all three ^_^
I highly recommend you visit the Mikimoto Lounge when you're in Ginza. The service is excellent, but the desserts and tea are even more outstanding.
I made this string of pearls out of our white sugar balls a while back. I couldn't stop thinking about them when I was enjoying myself in the Mikimoto Lounge. How truly decadent and elegant a simple thing like sugar can be if presented in the right manner.
2-4-12 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo
11 am to 7 pm Monday through Sunday
I only had five hours in Kyoto on my latest trip so I had to visit Ippodo's Tea House in Tokyo which is only a few stops from our apartment.
Easy to find and conveniently located in Marunouchi, right next to the Imperial Palace. It's about a five minute walk from the train station.
The Kaboku Tea Room is there for you to prepare your own tea; matcha, gyokuro, sencha and bancha. They open daily 11 to 7 and offer tea classes and events regularly.
You can buy tea and other fine tea accessories in the shop to take home for yourself or to gift to loved ones. I picked up some tea bags (yes, they sell tea bags), but even these are unique. The labels of the individual tea bags have a slit in them that firmly fasten to the rim of the tea cup or to the spout of the teapot.
They are super generous when it comes to sampling their teas. They fully encourage you to try their teas before making any purchases. That's always an excellent sign : ) Although there are many locations throughout Japan you can purchase Ippodo Tea, please note that tea tastings and take-out service is not available at the department stores (only at the main store in Kyoto and Tokyo Marunouchi Store). The kind people at Ippodo were quick to tell me about the shop that recently opened in New York City. See below for more details on NYC store. I told them I couldn't wait to visit.
And what a selection they have...
They provide a take-out service for those on the go. They were promoting their new Zojirushi thermos (for both cold and hot beverages) when I was there. The artwork on it is the same that's on the disposable cups you see here. It's also perfect for preparing matcha without having to use the whisk. Chihiro, from the NYC location, informed me that you can simply shake and serve.
You can also enjoy tea with dessert inside the shop. Now to New York City...
As soon as I got back to New York I ran out during my lunch break to check out Ippodo on 39th Street. They don't have their own tea shop and share a space with Kajitsu, but you can still sample teas and buy select teas to take home.
Chihiro was kind enough to prepare some tea for us. She's originally from Nara (where I have family) so we chatted a little about that.
I finally decided on the Uji-Shimizu (which is chilled and slightly sweetened) because it was crazy hot outside.
I am so curious about the artwork on the cups and thermos. Chihiro told me that Miss Shiokawa drew all the animals for Ippodo. I wonder why they chose those animals? I wonder if they have any special significance? In any case, I know I will be a regular at Ippodo even though they don't have any seating yet.
Ippodo Tea New York
125 East 39th Street (between Lexington Ave. & Park Avenue) inside
Daily 11am-7pm closed on Sundays
Happy tea time!
This sort of afternoon tea menu may seem a little cheezy for those of you who never watched Sex and the City, but for hard core fans (such as myself) and for tea lovers in general this experience is something you probably don't want to miss if you're in London. But, if you're like me and don't live in London, why not re-create it at home for a get together with the girls?
The Hyatt Regency London at The Churchill is hosting the "Sex and the City Afternoon Par-Tea" which includes sweets and savories inspired by New York City and the characters from the show. Many of us tend to assume afternoon tea HAS to include cold tea sandwiches. Not so. Sometimes I actually prefer something warm and savory. Of course, I still want it to be super miniaturized.
The SATC savory menu includes:
Pastrami On Rye
New York Bagels with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
Mini Jack "Bergers" (named after Jack Berger, one of Carrie’s boyfriends)
Mini New York Hot Dogs with a light drizzle of mustard
The SATC sweet menu includes a selection of pastries with all four ladies in mind.
For Carrie, a pink stiletto
For Charlotte, a pink strawberry cupcake
For Samantha, an appletini jelly in a mini martini glass
For Miranda, glazed mini doughnuts
Guests can also choose from a fine selection of teas that have been highlighted for each of the girls as well: For Carrie, a Winter White tea. For Samantha, Jasmine Pearls. For Charlotte, the traditional Sapphire Earl Grey. Finally for Miranda a Darjeeling 2nd Flush.
In recognition of the girls' love of cocktails, guests can include one of the girl’s favorite cocktails: a Flirtini (champagne, vodka and pineapple juice). Although, I associate the Cosmopolitan more with SATC. Here's a fun tea inspired cocktail that we think the girls would love! And it's perfect for summer - light and refreshing.
FAB-ELINNI Cocktail Recipe (by Karina Strobl)
Yields 4 servings
We know SATC was famous for setting fashion trends, but it also set some pretty remarkable food trends. Just to name a few places.
-Magnolia Bakery's Cupcakes
-City Bakery's brownies (are the best as proclaimed by Carrie)
-Who doesn't remember the episode when the girls go to the uber trendy "raw food" restaurant where we all meet Smith for the first time?!
-Chinese food: Think Miranda and the giggling woman who takes her delivery order
-Eleven Madison Park (where BIG does the unthinkable to Carrie!)
-The Boathouse Restaurant in Central Park (Carries and BIG go for an unexpected swim)
So, as I sit here reflecting on our time in Las Vegas I couldn't help but think of all the ladies I saw having bachelorette parties. And SATC always comes to mind when I see females bonding. I also can't help but think of that movie Bridesmaids which I absolutely L-O-V-E! Those ladies never quite made it to Vegas though. Thinking of a nice Evening TeaCocktail Hour for our best girlfriends.
What's a NYC themed party without mini pizza bites, a sushi tray, "Big" apple pie, raw tacos in lettuce cups and crudités.
We all know about Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasborg here in NYC, but LIC Flea is brand spanking new to the scene. I say the more the merrier.
Queens rules! New York City has 5 boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and...Staten Island (often forgotten territory).
Coffee & Cocktails...
Who doesn't crave a lobster roll in the summer?
One of my favorite Japanese comfort foods...
I first met Lisa, owner of The Chocolate Swirl, about a year ago at a city-sponsored incubator space in Astoria, Queens. It was wonderful to see her and her dad, who was her helper for the day. Not only are her sweets delicious and incredibly creative, but they are as sweet as she is. Always polite and cheery and always ready to tell me with great enthusiasm about her new products.
These Ice Cream Brownie Pops are a steal at $3 a pop.
And how fun would these Boozy Pops be at a party?
For the inner kid in us, I HAVE to recommend the Samoa Mini Cupcake which Clarissa devoured quicker than you could say, cupcake.
Not only beautiful, but delicious.
There was a pretty decent wait for these babies...
I arrived to the Flea pretty early, but still managed to miss out on a few donuts. Donuts from Dough are soft and pillowy. Obviously, they are delicious.
However, I did manage to score the LAST Passion Fruit with Cocoa Nibbs donut of the day (I heard the person behind me sigh and grunt). I picked up a few for the family: Hibiscus (gorgeous bright pinkish color icing with hibiscus flowers sprinkled on top),
Dulce De Leche with Toasted Almonds, and...
Lemon Poppy Seed.
Mitchell Greenberg is the CEO of Mitchmallows...
How adorable is this! Smore D'oeuvres.
Handcrafted, small batch, gourmet marshmallows in a rainbow of colors and flavors.
Can't wait to go back to the LIC Flea. It's just a hop skip and a jump from me now. Relax and take the East River Ferry while you're at it and enjoy the ride!
LIC Flea & Food will debut June 15 and will run every Saturday and Sunday on a large open lot located at 5th Street and 46th Avenue on the Hunters Point waterfront from 10 am to 6 pm. The market plans to run a van service between the market and the Long Island City East River station to shuttle shoppers coming from other neighborhoods.
Public transportation: E, 7, M and G
We'll find any excuse to have afternoon tea. What we love even more is finding inspiration in our every day life for tea parties. For you tennis lovers out there, tis the season! We've got Wimbledon coming up and here are a few places in the UK that are really doing it up by jazzing up their Afternoon Tea menus. We have to say that they all look magnificent. Wish we could experience them all in person. Not to worry - we're grabbing our racquets and getting in the spirit from NYC!
Wimbledon, the world's most famous tennis tournament will be celebrated at The Promenade at The Dorchester. The Dorchester is quickly becoming one of my favorite hotels! They have a wide selection of Afternoon Tea menus, all with a unique twist and theme. This summer you can celebrate the tennis lover in you by enjoying afternoon tea with Champagne, tennis inspired cakes and pastries, and strawberries & cream (a Wimbledon staple). Did you know that 61,000 lbs of strawberries and 1,800 gallons of cream were consumed at the tournament last year?! We didn't either!
Park Terrace presents a Wimbledon Afternoon Tea, featuring Murray’s mint macaroons and Chocolate blueberry roulade to get everyone in the spirit. The menu also includes assorted freshly prepared finger sandwiches, freshly baked raisin and cinnamon scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade preserves, Chocolate and Coffee Fudge Cake, Fresh Fruit Tartlets, Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake, Pimm's Jelly and Lemon Posset, and an organic loose leaf tea selection.
(Photo credit; the best image I could find on line. I apologize that it's so small.)
When I saw the image below on the Corinthia's web site, I almost, and I do mean almost, booked a flight to London on the spot.
Tea is served in The Lobby Lounge, illuminated by a magnificent Baccarat Chandelier that boasts 1,001 crystal baubles. We can't think of a more elegant setting. Couple this with a selection of sweets and savories inspired by summer and tennis, and you'll be in the "game, set, match" spirit in no time! The Corinthia will be serving Pimms Jelly in a lovely little glass - aptly named "A Sip of Summer" - as well as a delicately crafted chocolate tennis racquet, and a selection of finger sandwiches and scones.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel
Last year The Royal Horseguards Hotel served an impressive tennis inspired Afternoon Tea menu which included tennis ball truffles, tennis racquet cupcakes, a specialty strawberries and cream blend, almond and rose macarons, the usual finger sandwiches, muffins, warm scones with jam and cream...and Chilled Press Raspberries and Pimms.
Have your own tennis-themed tea party at home. Click here for the tennis ball truffle recipe in three different flavors: Mint, Champagne, and strawberry.
If the photos above have wetted your tennis inspired tea party appetite, not to worry! The US Open is not far behind.