Thursday, May 8, 2008

Silver Tips Tea

Silver Tips Tea
3 North Broadway
Tarrytown, NY 10591

Telephone: 914 332 8515

Tarrytown, the past decade, has undergone a downtown revival of sorts. It began with the arrival of a few gourmet stores, like the Korean grocery store in the mid nineties, and now is actually a wonderful place to spend a bit of time. Right around the crossing of North Broadway (Rt. 9) and Main Street are two of my favorite shops—Coffee Labs which belts out some of the best coffee in Westchester, and Silver Tips Tea.

Silver Tips Tea is a teahouse and restaurant that serves light refreshments. However, there is one and only one reason to rhapsodize about Silver Tips: its vast selection of teas that you can buy to take home, or drink cups and cups of, right at the tea house. Of course, there is an assortment of scones, salads, and sandwiches that you can nibble at, amidst settings that can be described as fussy and pretty. But the first thing that you should do when you get there is to take a look at their exhaustive menu of teas on offering.

I come from a family of fastidious tea drinkers, and from a state—Assam—that makes some of the best tea in the world. And after 23 years in this country I have not been able to warm up to the way that this country takes their tea. As you buy some loose leaf tea at Silver Tips, they hand it to you in a small metallized bag with a label that identifies the tea and suggests the amount of steeping time you need. This latter fact is key. For the only way to make good tea is to forgo the tea bag, migrate to leaves, and start the soaking only when the water has started boiling. Or, if you want to make tea the way it is in roadside stalls in India, you can get some “CTC” tea, boil it in milk and water, and add some cinnamon and ginger for bit of exotic flavor.

The selection at Silver Tips contains Assam, Darjeeling and Sri Lankan black teas among others, and an impressive array of green, yellow, and white teas that I am less familiar with. Looking through the Assam selections I find teas from gardens with names that bring me back to long past times. It feels oddly familiar, these comforting names hat resound with my past now peacefully extant in neat metal tins in a smart Tarrytown teashop. It is tempting to reflect upon these connections, of a tea house in Tarrytown displaying the names of gardens in far flung Assam, the smart font bearing the name but not the fullness that I know is associated with it, the tea garden laborers from Bihar, the songs written after them, the life of the tea garden manager with his golf sticks and bottles of whiskey, and his bearer, immersed in a loneliness within the green wildness of Assam.

Silver Tips is where we get most of our tea from. Try the black teas out, the Darjeelings that give a lighter brew (in Kolkata they were known as having less “liquor”) to the Assam teas that are best had with a bit of milk. Feel free to experiment—put in a piece of cinnamon, or cardamom, or ginger as it steeps.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, we had to wait a year to get new reviews but I'd say the wait was worth is, especially on the teashop front. I really appreciate reading about the cultural context. All I know about tea from India is Darjeeling and Assam (Darjeeling that I drink is smuggled from Kolkatta, loose, of course). Is there more?