Tablas against teabags

A brand-new tea bar called Tavalon just opened by Union Square in Manhattan. It sells high-end loose leaf teas in a microscopic but slick storefront decked out like a lounge. The founders are young corporate law dropouts, a turbaned Sikh dude named Sonny Caberwal and his biz partner John-Paul Lee. Sonny is also a tabla-ista who rocked out on a Thievery Corporation album a couple of years ago. It’s the second gen version of the ‘I’ll open a little restaurant’ dream:

There’s a new wave of Indian restaurants as lifestyle businesses being started by young, desi Manhattan professionals. Indian Bread Company, Chinese Mirch, and their granddaddy, Kati Roll Co., remind me of the second wave of upscale restaurants in London’s Brick Lane; they’re slicker than the usual desi joint… As young restaurants, owners, friends and relatives still work behind the counter… educated urbanites… A lot of the initial marketing of these places goes through word of mouth, friends of friends in the high-speed desi network; it’s the ‘I’ll open a little restaurant’ dream made real. [Link]

The place is decorated with white tile in a fabric texture like Tamarind, white orchids, uplit shelves like a cosmetics counter and menus on 32″ LCDs. It sells teas in tins and test tubes. My buddies DD Pesh spun in the DJ perch yesterday, and Sonny played stand-up tabla by the door.

The teas themselves mimic vitamin water with frou-frou, we’re-not-Lipton themes like anti-aging, energizing and balancing. The bar also carries some wicked-looking paraphernalia including a tea stick, a perforated, stainless steel cylinder which you fill with loose leaf tea; stainless steel honey spoons shaped like honeycombs; and sinuous, double-sided sugar spoons. It’s all very SoHo-boho chic (tongue-in-cheek).

They’ve got a blend called Ceylon King for the days you’re feeling Ravanous. Thankfully, they don’t carry any redundant-dundant ‘chai tea,’ but do stop by and give Sonny shit for his ‘secret Indian spices’

Kama Chai Sutra: … teas just don’t get any more flavorful than this organic chai, made with a secret blend of Indian spices.

Gratuitous tea pr0n:

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Tavalon tea bar, 22 E. 14th St. between 5th Ave. and University Place, Manhattan, 11am-11pm

120 thoughts on “Tablas against teabags

  1. leave the computer for 16 hours and it’s a full on tea party/rave…

    siddharta, I’m your dormouse. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat…..

    Way back in comment..I dunno, 50-something: aeration is important; the Chinese traditionally would pour hot water from on high into the teapot or cup (gai wan). other claim you must only heat the water until the bubbles appear, boiling water “scalds the leaves.”

    Ritual is everything with tea…. Here’s a nice article from Jenny Diski on tea.

    And for pink Kashmiri tea: go here!

  2. See what happens when you don’t give us a new post all day? We reach 95 posts on a tea shop!

    I’m guessing they’re hard at work on the big April 1st conspiracy.

    You heard it here first.

  3. Oh Brownfrown, we hardly knew ye…hope you see some amazing monsooning…


    Okay, okay, I’ve got another shoppe name…it’s on the third floor…and it’s called…guessguessguess…”TEAsri Manzil”. Thank you and good night.

  4. HereÂ’s a nice piece from George Orwell – Eleven musts of making a good cuppa tea:

    I agree with 9 of his 11 points, most of all this one:

    First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays – it is economical, and one can drink it without milk – but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who uses that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
  5. Ha, I have a tattoo of Ennis’ face. On my face.

    i have no comment. this is too clean a site…i think. and i have the dastar trio on my no comment.

    Metric, yo’ quiz is too easy. That won’t discern the sepiites from the sepians. Drive-by one-day visitors know who Pattie Kaur’s hot for!


  6. HereÂ’s a nice piece from George Orwell – Eleven musts of making a good cuppa tea

    but of course Divya. As per the Paley Postulate – “Everything comes from India”… including Orwell, that good ol’ boy from Bihar. Shouldnt be a surprise that he likes his tea.

  7. “Everything comes from India”… including Orwell, that good ol’ boy from Bihar. Shouldnt be a surprise that he likes his tea.

    Actually, I was very surprised to learn that Indians are very wimpy tea drinkers compared to the Brits. They take their tea darker, stronger and many, many more cups than desis.

  8. As per the Paley Postulate – “Everything comes from India”…

    (Ears prick up) What Paley postulated that?

  9. bong, now i see why they keep the caffeine locked up as a “dangerous substance” in the lab.

    we’re yet to open many tea bars down under; but there are plenty of specialised retail chains. most good cafes (!) now serve excellent leaf tea. my favourite is the “infused chai,” marsala chai in hot milk to imitate the original indian version. even more amusing is when they ask if I want “milk with that.”

    anyone seen the Clipper tes range? They supply “Ayurvedic blends” like Tavalon and they are as idiotic as you would expect. Who drinks aloe vera for pete’s sake?

  10. TeaTotaller!! Best Name! The chai on Gerrard is something else. Never knew chai could be pink with badam floating in it 🙂 Have fun guys.

  11. pram:

    I’m so glad someone else is on the same page!

    everyone else:

    Has there been a mutiny or mini-mutiny in the Desh? Is anyone down? Tumbler davara coffee abound!

  12. Why – I believe it was a Nina, on these sepiate pages.

    You’re confusing me with Mr. Everything Comes From India. Although some people say I look like him.

  13. tho’ i am quite sure i detected that jibe on some such page in sepia bloghistory i confess it could be that i missed my centrum today and am all muddled up – tho’ the paley postulate rolls off the tongue quite well, wont you say – let’s say it all together now – per the paley postulate, the popular portal portends pestilence.
    but not if it bothers you of course. tho’ this could be immortalized like the bacon game – figure out the people, person, place’s sepiate linkage in six relationships or less.

  14. madurai vivekan: i’m with you! there is nothing like tumbler davara filter coffee lovingly “aathified” by your mom first thing in the morning.

  15. another vote for davara-tumbler coffee!!

    P.S. – Avalon is a mythical Celtic, not Saxon, land.

  16. CONGRATS SONNY AND JP!! I’m so proud of you guys! Can’t wait to come up to NYC to see Tavalon! xxoo, Mirs

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  18. Like the style of the tea club. However, for a real tea I still prefer nice and relaxed places with more ‘eastern’ character. Places where one can get back to nature and drink real, fresh, preferable Chinese, tea.