New York City’s Newest Food Museum Is All About Tea

Summer Boba Court room
Summer Boba Court room | © Room for Tea
Photo of Amy Schulman
Food Editor28 August 2018

Over the past year, New York City has seen plenty of food pop-up museums – everything from an ice cream museum to an entirely egg-centric exhibit – but the latest pop-up solely showcases tea.

Room for Tea is a new, immersive pop-up exhibition in Tribeca, running from August 28 to September 22. At the helm of the exhibit is the all-female led Chaimi Food Studio, the same creative agency that launched the popular The Boba Room last year. In this newest rendition, Room for Tea draws inspiration from New York City’s diverse tea culture.

“New York City is built off diversity,” says Creative Director Yaxing Bai. “Tea should be thought of as more than just Snapple, but as an ingredient that has the power to bring people together.”

The exhibit is split into four rooms: Labyrinth of Tea Origin, Summer Boba Court, Milk Tea Metropolis, and Matcha Under Cherry Blossom, along with a tinier side room called Mint Tea Secret Box. Each room showcases a specific facet of the beverage, from its history to street milk-tea vendors and zen culture in tea.

Rooms are geared for the perfect Instagram shot | © Room for Tea

Following the frequently ubiquitous trend of food museums, each room flaunts colorful, Instagram-worthy installations, all of which are meant to be interacted with. The Summer Boba Court room is bright pink, and peppered with plump pink balloons – representing boba balls – ready to be tossed into basketball hoops protruding from the wall. A seven-foot-tall recreation of a boba tea bottle plastered with illustrations sits off to the side, paying homage to both boba tea and pop art.

Then there’s Labyrinth of Tea Origin, decked out with flowy red curtains. Here, tea fanatics are encouraged to weave their way in and out of the curtains like a maze to discover tea’s 2,000-year-old history.

The smaller of the five scenes, Mint Tea Secret Box is specifically inspired by Moroccan mint tea. Guests crawl into a small space mimicking a mini version of a Moroccan-style pool, adorned with green ceramics and patterns.

The exhibit’s run time is 40 minutes. Guests are treated to one complimentary drink from one of six NYC tea shops; the shops rotate in and out during the length of the exhibit, but vendors include Yaya Tea, Bar Pa Tea, Kung Fu Tea, Bubblion, Gong Cha and Tbaar.

Each ticket guarantees guests one complimentary tea drink | © Room for Tea

General admission tickets begin at $23, with the most expensive at $33. The latter includes a 40-minute tea ceremony; during the week, Room for Tea partners with Modern Taiwanese Tea Ceremony Club of New York and on weekends with 7’s Art to provide tea lovers with an authentic tea ceremony experience.

Additionally, Room for Tea is working with Trees for the Future on their project The Forest Garden Program. For every ticket sold, Room for Tea pledges that one tree will be planted; planting fast-growing trees, fruit trees, and hardwoods fundamentally assists communities in need.

At its core, Room for Tea functions both as a space for tea fanatics and those looking to learn a bit more about the historic beverage.

“[Tea] is more than a drink,” Bai says. “It stands for different cultures. Every culture has its own adaption here, and in NYC we celebrate that.”

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