Circulate for long enough in New York’s wellness world, and its esoteric customs become quite familiar. You can step into any yoga studio, spa, or alternative treatment center and not feel awkward because you know what to expect: There will probably be some chanting; there will be incense; and at some point you might be spoken to in Sanskrit.
But even if you regularly travel in this world, you may still feel shy when you first step into Floating Mountain, a new Upper West Side teahouse and art gallery. The second-floor space is library-quiet, and its owner has the icy blue eyes and regal bearing of an arctic deity. You’ll be asked to take off your shoes, sit on a cushion on the floor (make sure to wear something comfortable!), and choose from dozens of Chinese teas you’ve likely never heard of. It all feels a little overwhelming—for about 30 seconds. Then you realize that this place is not forbidding at all; it’s just incredibly, intentionally peaceful.
Run by a true yogi—Elina Medvedeva, who is from Siberia and a total sweetheart—Floating Mountain is a spot for thoughtful contemplation. Specialty teas are served in the Chinese tradition, with quiet ceremony and in elegant teaware, and the room is full of art and light. In the evening, the space sometimes offers live music. Its next intimate concert, to be held on November 30, will meld Brazilian compositions with the smooth sounds of Cole Porter.
You are of course welcome to bring a friend and chat, but you can also come alone and enjoy your tea in meditative silence. (You can do this at any time, or show up specifically for the silent tea bowl ceremony, held weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon.) It is otherworldly, calming, and transformative, and you’ll soon feel right at home.
Why You Should Go: Whether you have just minutes or a few hours, this hidden spot will clear your mind and soothe your soul.
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