This lovely place is an absolute gem! Having scoured Manhattan for a proper non-Western tea shop/room (don’t get me wrong, I still love my Ladurée and The Russian Tea Room), this place was the only tea shop that I have come to love and frequent. Yes, yes, there may be a couple other places in Manhattan where GOOD teas are served gong fu style, but these places have an air of snobbery and soi-disant sophistication about them that don’t necessarily belong in Chinese tea culture. Perhaps there are a few other tea shops in Chinatown that may evoke the same authenticity as that of Jin Yun Fu, but frankly and sadly, they may be inaccessible for non-Mandarin speakers like me.
By the mercy of the tea gods, I fortunately found Jin Yun Fu, where true Chinese tea culture can be had. Olivia, the owner, is such a gracious host who is very passionate about the art of tea. Her teas are top quality and have been the best I’ve come across; you will definitely spend a pretty penny for them—but of course, you already knew that ;). Even so, I have found myself constantly coming back to her shop—without the intention of purchasing more tea—just to have tea with her (though I often end up buying tea anyway).
Unlike the other tea shops, Olivia will NOT charge you ~$150 an hour for a tea tasting. In fact, I find it ironic that tea shops will audaciously charge you for TASTING mere samples of their tea! With that amount, you might as well have bought 100g of their ‘top shelf’ tea and have left the tea shop with something—then perhaps smacked yourself later for outrageously spending on a tea you didn’t even get a chance to taste AND are now fully committed to! Such is the plague that affects Manhattan’s ‘premier’ tea shops. Screw that. Thank goodness this city has a cure, and that’s Jin Yun Fu!