American culture typically prioritizes speed and efficiency over slowing down to savor a moment. Nowhere is this more evident than in our conception of tea and coffee in to-go cups, which do not exist in much of the rest of the world. A cup of tea is something to be carefully brewed and savored—or so the thinking goes.
But where can you possibly do this in an American landscape overrun with Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf? A tea atelier in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, from the prestige tea company Bellocq, might just be the perfect place to start.
For those who think of ornate hotels like the Plaza in New York and Claridges in London as the spot to go for afternoon tea, it will come as a surprise that the façade of the atelier is highly un-ornamented. Marked only by a small metal sign, the atelier sits in a former pencil factory.
But step inside, and you’ll realize that these humble beginnings are unrelated to the space’s current use by Bellocq. The salon is a working wonderland, as reflected by the brand’s decision to have the shop function as an atelier, which is the French word for workshop.
The décor is enough to make you feel like you’ve been transported to multiple exotic locations around the world all at once. On one wooden table, tea artisans measure out loose leaf tea in exacting combinations before serving them to visitors or canning them in the brand’s signature yellow canisters with silver lids.
Elsewhere in the atelier, a big pink velvet window seat encourages patrons to take a break to savor their tea. Moody florals are spread throughout the space, overseeing bowls of loose leaf tea. Some walls are painted dark purple, while others are overrun with hanging plants. Antique picture frames are casually propped against exposed brick. A selection of carefully curated tea-related products, such as gorgeous teacups, are available for sale.
And not to worry if you’re a tea neophyte, or unsure of how to prepare and enjoy loose leaf tea. Everyone who works at the atelier will be happy to show you how and offer you taste tests to figure out whether you’re more of an Afghan Chai or Ceylon kind of person.
When you step out of this former pencil factory-turned-transportive salon, you may be surprised to realize that a significant amount of time has passed. And in America’s always busy culture, that may be almost as significant a luxury as Bellocq’s beautiful, handcrafted teas.