Honest Review of Tea Around Town: NYC Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Honest Review of Tea Around Town: NYC Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

If you are thinking about doing the viral Tea Around Town bus tour in New York City, read this honest review to see what it’s like onboard, so you can decide if Tea Around Town is worth it.

What is Tea Around Town?

Tea Around Town is a unique bus tour and afternoon tea experience in New York City. During this experience, you get to enjoy a multi-course traditional afternoon tea on a double decker bus. The bus circles around the midtown area, allowing you to do sightseeing while eating and drinking tea at the same time.

With Tea Around Town, you get the best of both worlds since you can eat and do sightseeing in a warm and air conditioned bus regardless of weather. Because of its pink exterior (and interior) and floral decorations, Tea Around Town is especially popular for birthday celebrations, bachelorette parties, and girlfriend outings.

Exploring New York City?

As a New York local, I love exploring the city and its food scene. Whether you are looking for festive bars and restaurants, amazing afternoon tea, cute flower cafes, or fun activities like observation decks, sunflower farms or cherry blossoms, you can find them on my blog.

If you are visiting NYC, be sure to get a New York Pass to save money on attractions and tours.

Central-Park-cherry-blossom

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Tea Around Town Menu and Cost

Tea Around Town comes with 2 menu options: a standard menu or a premium menu. The Standard Menu costs $69+ whereas the premium menu costs $109+. This price is for both adults and kids 3 and over; there is no kids price. You need a minimum of 2 people for Tea Around Town.

The price also changes throughout the week, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays being the lowest and the weekends being the highest (usually $5-10 more than what I listed above).

The Basic Menu comes with 7 courses (3 savory sandwiches, 1 scone, and 3 sweets).
The Premium Menu comes with 13 courses (6 savory sandwiches, 2 scones, 6 sweets), and mocktails. We also got champagne at the end, although I’m not sure if everyone gets it. The Premium Menu also comes with priority seating and boarding.

You can see the different menu options below for Tea Around Town. We got the premium menu to try everything.

Tea Around Town: Best Seating on the Bus

Most of the seating on the Tea Around Town Bus is on the upper level, which has glass ceiling and glass windows all around, making the space much brighter and have better visibility of the outside (it is a sightseeing bus after all).

The workers told us that seating is pre-assigned, so it’s not first come first serve. You do not know where your table is ahead of time and there is no need to get there super early to be the first one (we tried that since we thought it was first come first serve).

On the upper deck, the left row are tables for 2 people and the right side are tables for our. Since there are 4 corners on the upper deck, those are the best in terms of lighting and views (since you have the large window behind you and next to you).

There are very limited seatings on the bottom deck, and it is a lot darker, not ideal for taking photos of food or yourselves.

Read Next: Complete Review of the Plaza Hotel Afternoon Tea

How to Find the Tea Around Town Bus Stop

Boarding time is 15 minutes prior to the time stated on your ticket/ confirmation, but in reality you don’t really board 15 minutes before. We were the first bus of the day and we boarded around 10:30am. I did read reviews that sometimes the bus is late later in the day, due to traffic or some other reasons.

The bus station is on 42nd street between 5th and 6th avenue, right next to the New York Public Library (next to Bryant Park). The bus stop is closer to 5th Ave instead of 6th Ave. Our instruction was to wait for the bus right across from 11 West 42nd Street.

If you are walking on 42nd Street from 6th Avenue towards 5th Avenue near the library, you will actually see the bus stop of “Topview Sightseeing”. The bus stop for Tea Around Town is essentially a few steps further, although there is no sign for Tea Around Town.

If you arrive 10-15 minutes before boarding, you will see staff standing around (or other people waiting already). The staff member will scan the QR Code on your confirmation, and tell you to wait in line for the bus.

Once the bus arrives, you will be told what number your table is as you board the bus.

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Tea Around Town Tour Bus Schedule

There are between 5 to 11 buses per day, depending on the day of the week and the season.

On the weekends, there are up to 11 buses going around whereas on a weekday there are only 5. The earliest bus is 10:30am on the weekends and 11am on the weekdays; the last bus is 4pm on weekdays and 7:30pm at night.

I did read that the bus can get cancelled at the last minute if there’s not enough people that signed up.

What You See During Tea Around Town in New York City

Tea Around Town is a bus tour, so you can expect to see some of the most famous places and streets during the bus tour. The map of the bus route is shown below.

The bus drives rather slow, giving you time to check out some of the famous buildings and sights along the drive. The most famous landmarks and streets that you can see from the Tea Around Town bus include:

  • Grand Central Terminal
  • The Chrysler Building
  • Empire State Building (through the glass roof)
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • Radio City Music Hall
  • Fifth Avenue (a little bit)
  • Madison Avenue
  • Central Park South Entrance
  • Columbus Circle
  • Times Square and the Theater District (7th Avenue)
NYC-tea-Around-Town-Central-Park

Since you cannot get off the bus during the afternoon tea, you can only look at these buildings and streets. In my experience, the views only got more exciting about 1/3 into the tour (if not later), since the first 20 or so minutes is driving down to the Murray Hill area with not much to see. Only after about 20 minutes did the host tell us to look up to see the Empire State Building from the glass ceiling.

The most exciting part of the view was probably when we were driving down 7th Avenue towards Times Square, where you can see all the billboards and lights from 10 blocks away.

Keep in mind that I am from New York City, so I know you can get way better views of these sights and streets just by walking outside and exploring them. But if you are short on time visiting NYC, this is a good way to at least see some of the famous places, especially if the weather is bad outside.

While on board, there is a host singing the entire time and pointing out famous landmarks and telling you a little bit of history behind them. My back was towards the host so I didn’t realize the entire time that he was singing, I totally thought it was just music playing from a playlist. The live singing was definitely very impressive.

Tea Around Town: Review of Food and Service

With the premium menu, you get 6 pieces of savory sandwiches/ egg, 2 scones with adirondack preserves and Cloud 9 creme, 6 pieces of sweets, different teas and coffees (although we were never offered coffee), and a choice of mocktail (from 3 options).

NYC-tea-Around-Town-food-review

Below is my review of the food that was offered on the bus tour. The standard menu includes some of the pieces above, so if you are thinking about the standard menu, keep reading too since this will apply to you (hint: I liked many of the pieces that are available for Standard menu only)

Since food is not prepared on the bus, so you cannot expect soft and warm scones or freshly made sandwiches like you do from a restaurant. All the food was made elsewhere and catered to the bus.

Tea Around Town Savory Bites ★★★☆☆

Out of the 6 pieces of savory bites, I really enjoyed the cucumber sandwich, egg sandwich, and the truffle egg essence, although I did not really taste the truffle. The sandwiches were very tasty, albeit the bread was a little hard, which was expected since the food was not made on the bus.

The smoked salmon on pumpernickel (Lox of luxury) was tasty, but I personally found the pumpernickel a bit too hard.

Personally, I was not a big fan of the lobster pot puff with the lobster salad, as it lacked the flavors I was expecting. If it was slightly more salty I would’ve liked it a lot more.

Lastly the rib sandwich was not bad, but again, it wasn’t as flavorful as I expected but I wouldn’t mind eating it again.

Tea Around Town Scones ★★★☆☆

The premium menu gives you 2 flavors of scones, a plain one and a cranberry scone.

NYC-tea-Around-Town-Scones-Review

As mentioned above, since the scones were not fresh out of the oven, they were not warm and soft like the ones I had during other afternoon teas in New York City. If they were soft and warm, I would’ve given them a higher score since the flavor was good, just not the texture.

The preserves and creme were good, which made the hard scones taste better.

Tea Around Town Sweets ★★★★☆

The sweets were the best part of the afternoon tea, since they do not need to be freshly made or warm. While writing this review, I noticed that they do change up the sweets since what we got were slightly different from the menu online.

My favorite pieces of sweets on Tea Around Town would be:

  • Mini Chocolate Mousse Tart
  • Mini Eclair
  • Cheesecake

The cheesecake was super moist and soft and the eclair had chocolate in the middle, which was really good. I also liked the chocolate mousse tart since I just love anything chocolate.

My least favorite were the Mini Lemon Meringue twist and the lemon square piece, which were both too sweet for my taste and the twist was dry.

Instead of macaron, we got a raspberry tart type of dessert, which was pretty good and not too overpowering.

Tea Around Town Tea & Coffee ★★★★☆

Tea Around Town is on a moving bus, so there is nowhere to brew tea there. All the tea and coffee were already made and brought onto the bus. Therefore, you do not get to order a specific tea, unlike other New York City afternoon tea.

The menu shows a large selection of teas, ranging from Chai to Earl Gray to fruity teas.

During our bus tour, the servers came to our table a few times offering different tea, including raspberry pomegranate, Chai Spice and Peach & Passion Fruit. But we were not offered any other types of tea, so I’m not sure if they had them or not. We were also not offered coffee.

However, I actually quite liked the tea, despite not being able to order a specific one. I liked that we got to sample different teas that they offered, especially since I love fruit teas. Honey was also provided to us if we wanted to make the tea sweet.

Each person also get a really cute plastic tumbler with the Tea Around Town logo for the tea, and you get to keep the tumbler after the ride!

I would’ve given 5 stars if we were given more options for the tea and if we were offered coffee.

Tea Around Town Mocktails & Champagne ★★★★☆

If you have the premium package, you get to choose a mocktail and potentially get champagne at the end. Champagne is not on the menu, but I think they offered it at the end of the ride to everyone, which was a really nice gesture.

The mocktail options offered to us were sparkling cider and non-alcoholic rosé. I chose the rosé and it was indeed refreshing. It wasn’t a sweet drink so if you want something sweet you would need to pick a different option.

Bottles of water were also offered to us on the bus.

The champagne at the end was a really nice finishing touch. The server was super friendly and gave us each half a tumbler of champagne!

Tea Around Town Staff and Service ★★★★★

I have nothing but great things to say about the Tea Around Town Staff, from our two servers to our host, who provided endless food, drinks and entertainment on the bus.

They were all smiles the moment we stepped into the bus, and were accommodating enough to allow us to move to the back corner of the bus with a better view and better lighting (since those seats were empty).

Book your Tea Around Town here.

Tea Around Town Q&A

Do you need a reservation for Tea Around Town?

You need to make a reservation for Tea Around Town ahead of time. You can pick the date, time and which menu you want. This will guarantee you a spot (minimum 2 spots needed) on the bus tour.

Does Tea Around Town accommodate food allergies and food restrictions?

The menu shows which piece of afternoon tea is vegetarian or gluten free. Besides this, there is no substitute for any piece of food. If you are a vegan or if you are allergic to dairy for example, you will have a hard time finding things that you can eat.

How long is Tea Around Town in NYC?

Tea Around Town takes about 90 minutes total, with 15 minutes of boarding and getting seated and an hour to 75 minutes of sightseeing.

Do you get alcohol with Tea Around Town?

Yes, you can get champagne at the end with the premium menu.

Is Tea Around Town good for large parties?

Each table accommodates 2 to 4 people. If you have a party larger than that, you will be split into different tables. As mentioned above, you cannot choose tables as everything is pre-assigned.

Can you choose where to sit on the Tea Around Town bus?

No, seating is pre-assigned and you only find out where you sit as you get on the bus.

However, if you see a better spot (like the four corners of the top deck) with nobody sitting there, you can ask the servers to move you to that table. They are very accommodating and nice about it.

Is Tea Around Town good for kids?

Tea Around Town costs the same for adults or kids, so I would only suggest bringing kids that will be able to eat most of the food. Kids have to be at least 3 years old to join the Tea Around town.

Older kids would probably do better on the bus tour, especially if they are interested in sightseeing.

What do I Wear to Tea Around Town? Do I need to dress up?

Most people do dress up for Tea Around Town, since many celebrate special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and bachelorette parties. But dressing up is not required or necessary, only if you feel like being fancy and classy!

When we were on the bus, I saw many girls with fancy hats (with feathers) and hairbands, so you can imagine the style everyone is going for.

Is Tea Around Town Worth It?

Tea Around Town is an one of a kind experience that combines food and sightseeing. Tea Around Town is great for photos, and it is probably the most instagrammable afternoon tea you can find in New York City. If you are looking for something fun, cute and unique, then I would say Tea Around Town in New York City is worth the price.

However, if you are looking for gourmet meals or a hop on hop off bus tour, Tea Around Town is not it.

There are many famous places in NYC for afternoon tea (like the Plaza Hotel) or even less expensive places like the Prince Tea House that offer better food. In fact the Plaza hotel tea is only $120 a person and Prince Tea house afternoon tea set is only $38 a person, but you get way better food.

There are also other double decker hop on hop off sightseeing buses that allow you to get off and explore.

Again, Tea Around Town is more about the aesthetic, uniqueness and overall experience rather than food or sightseeing alone.

Tea Around Town Tips

  • You can take the cute tumbler home.
  • Use the bathroom at Bryant Park before you board the bus. I did not see any bathrooms on the bus (there may have been one but I never asked).
  • If you have leftover food, you can ask the servers for a really cute to go box.
  • Chat up the servers, they may offer you more champagne!
  • Tell them that you are celebrating something special and you will get a special shoutout.
  • If you are a photographer (or Instagrammer that uses cameras), bring a wide angle lens for photos.
  • Wear something cute and colorful! You won’t look out of place.
  • If you get car sick easily, you should take dopamine beforehand to prevent motion sickness.

Read My Other New York City Posts

New York City Food Guide

New York City Itineraries & Things to Do

Christmas and Holiday Season in New York City

New York City Seasonal Articles

How to Save Money Traveling to NYC

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Is Tea Around Town Worth It: Honest Review of Tea around Town in New York City