Photo courtesy Room for Tea

The history of tea has never looked so fun

Rebecca Firkser
August 28, 2018

Joining the ranks of food pop-ups like the Museum of Ice Cream, Rosé Mansion, and Egg House, here comes Room for Tea, an art installation-slash-Instagram wonderland in New York City focused around the worldwide tradition of tea. I visited Room for Tea’s media preview yesterday afternoon and found that it had a bit more substance than most of the immersive food pop-ups I’ve been to.

“Tea should be considered as more than just a bottle of Snapple,” reads Room for Tea’s website. Bottled iced tea was certainly the furthest thing from my mind as I walked into the space. I first walked into the “boba court,” which appeared to be half ball pit—the basketball-sized rubber balls we used for dodgeball in elementary school before the game was banned—half basketball court. There wasn’t room to dribble, but there were hoops attached to the wall should one want to take a shot. A 15-foot milk bottle also stood in the middle of the room, perhaps as a photo prop.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser
Photo by Rebecca Firkser
Photo by Rebecca Firkser

I then wandered into the “labyrinth of tea origin,” a room of layered red curtains. One of the pop-up’s organizers, Runci Zhang, explained that the bright red was intended to reference tea’s origins in China. On the way to the “matcha under cherry blossom” room, which pays homage to the Japanese tea ceremony, I walked past a green- and white-tiled chamber of sorts. At first glance it looks like nothing more than a place to pose for Instagram, but Zhang explained it was intended to reference Moroccan mint tea. Upstairs was a room of neon known as “milk tea metropolis,” which represents a modern Hong Kong street.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser
Photo by Rebecca Firkser
Photo by Rebecca Firkser

At the end of the Room for Tea journey, I found a small gift shop and an area to pick up a bubble tea (complimentary with a ticket to the event). Tickets are $23, with an optional $10 upgrade to participate in a 40-minute traditional Taiwanese tea ceremony. Room for Tea opens August 28 and will be open until September 22.

Photo by Rebecca Firkser

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