Teatime Tee-Off

I had the fine pleasure of having tea at two popular tearooms in NYC over the past few weeks: Alice’s Teacup on the Upper East Side, and Tea & Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue. Now I will do something practically impossible, which is to try to determine which tearoom rises above in a Teatime Tee-Offf.

Ambiance

Alice’s Teacup has three locations, and I went to “Chapter III” on East 81st Street, which had a long row of tables in addition to a front windowed area. The cups were delightfully mis-matched and our food was placed on a tower between us which made it hard to see, which of course, is not a problem when there is too much food.

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Alice’s Teacup

Tea & Sympathy on the other hand, was quite crowded, making it awkward for the staff to maneuver and I almost knocked a teacup off the neighboring table. It redeemed itself with adorable teacups and small strainers for the tea, as well as a shop with all things British next door.

Due to their popularity, neither restaurant accepts restaurants. Both restaurants have customers wait outside, which is quite unfortunate in the winter. However, as a redeeming quality, both have benches, which makes for a pleasant wait in warmer months.

Alice’s Teacup: 1
Tea & Sympathy: 0

Service

Alice’s had wonderful service, with a patient waiter who was happy to bring us whatever we wanted and let us linger and drink our tea.

Tea & Sympathy had a few customers waiting outside, and we felt rushed; with the tight quarters we were constantly checked upon and the check was placed on the table before we asked for it.

Alice’s Teacup: 2
Tea & Sympathy: 0

Food

My friend and I ordered the full “Mad Hatter” tea at Alice’s, which came with tea, sandwiches, scones, and dessert. It was way too much food so we took the sweets home. The sandwiches were tasty and we ate our fill.

Having learned my lesson, I ordered an egg salad sandwich at Tea & Sympathy which was sadly bland. I added salt *gasp* and still managed to enjoy. One of my friends ordered scones and cream and was very pleased; the other ordered a chicken sandwich and was also full afterwards.

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Egg Salad Sandwich at Tea & Sympathy
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Scones and cream

Alice’s Teacup: 3
Tea & Sympathy: 0

Tea

At Alice’s Teacup, I had the house blend which was quite good. At Tea & Sympathy, I tried our waitresses’ recommendation which was a Green Vanilla tea and that was unexpectedly delightful. I’d have to say it was a TIE!

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Green Vanilla Tea

Alice’s Teacup: 4
Tea & Sympathy: 1

Accents

Tea & Sympathy is the clear winner here, our server had an English accent.

Alice’s Teacup: 4
Tea & Sympathy: 2

Location

While located conveniently between both Central Park and Carl Schurz Park, Alice’s Teacup is great for nature lovers. However, window shopping is not to my taste on the Upper East Side, and there is only one subway line (the 4/5/6) which provides access.

Tea & Sympathy is located in a more lively area and after our meal we had a hearty walk, perusing consignment shops, book stores, and jewelry stores.

Alice’s Teacup: 4
Tea & Sympathy: 3

The winner is: Alice’s Teacup!

Congratulations and cheers! Have you been to these tearooms, or would you recommend others? What did you think of these two?

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