80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
If I couldn’t afford to eat at Balthazar’s, at least I could get a drink from their to-go shack, I thought to myself. Although shack isn’t quite the appropriate diction to describe a place like Balthazar. To preface this place, this famous SoHo French patisserie serves up a small raspberry chocolate tart at $6.50.
On Instagram, a stranger raved about Balthazar’s ginger citrus tea and it stuck with me. I doubt a tea can go beyond $5 and decide to get one.
I walk past the flurry of European tourists plopped down on the wooden benches along Balthazar’s main entrance. They huff and puff away on their cigarettes and probably are judging for me not being Euro-cool. Some parlez en francais and others a mash of accented English.
The to-go bakery is fairly small, fitting four adults comfortably. Both sides of the wall are lined with wooden shelves full of different types of artisanal bread. Circle loafs on oval loafs on square loafs. Behind the counter are three employees ready to help you choose between sandwiches, beverages, patries, tarts or whatever else is available for takeout, I think. (I never asked, but was very close to making a joke about the person who actually buys that pumpernickel loaf all the way up in the dusty corner.)
I scour the chalk board listing all the beverage choices. The ginger citrus tea, bingo.
I’m told it’s sweetened with honey and am given the option of hot or cold. I inquire as to which is better and the employee already sweetening my hot cup of tea plainly says, “Hot.” I believe him and go with the hot option.
The cup is printed with Balthazar’s banner and not just some random white coffee cup with a sleeve. I can appreciate this. In addition, it also comes with a functional plastic white cap that has a shunt that opens and closes so there is no need to worry about spillage. It made it very fun to open and close the shunt whenever I wanted to drink from the cup.
I’m not sure what kind of tea it is, but it tasted like a cup of warmed orange juice, except not as acidic or sweet. The ginger is not a subtle taste. When taking big gulps, it’s masked, but when swigging it around your mouth and the tip of your tongue comes in contact with the ginger, it’s fairly spicy. I would compare this to drinking a warm Ginger Fireball from Juice Press, except the ginger citrus tea is not as viscous as the juice. It also has a nice floral hint of honey, which the fireball doesn’t.
When I opened the cap, I found fresh mint leaves and two slices of lemon. After a while, the tea became a little too bitter from the lemon rind. Next time, I would probably steep the mint and lemon only for a short period of time. But for those who like the tannic taste of citrus rinds, like the taste of a nice Hong Kong lemon tea, this is that taste.
At $3.75, this large cup of tea seemed never ending. (The sizing is between a grande and venti.)
Overall, it’s a great treat. It’s sweet enough to satisfy my sweet tooth, but not distressingly sugary. I can see this being a fantastic alternative to hot chocolate or hot coffees in cold weather. And the ginger isn’t too shabby when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.