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Floating Mountain

Floating Mountain

239 West 72nd Street
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023
212 852 6555
floating-mountain.com
Hours:
11am-9pm Everyday

“Growing up close to Asia always gave me a sense of their traditions, especially the importance of tea in China,” Elina Medvedeva told me when I visited her brand new tea salon in 2017. Originally from Russia, Elina came to New York in 2004, and today feels that “For me, this is home now.”

Located one flight up, Floating Mountain is a hidden oasis on West 72nd Street. Blissfully tranquil, it is a perfect place to hide from the real world for either a few minutes or several hours – whatever suits a guest on any given day – and sip on a pot of freshly made tea.

While walking the side streets of Manhattan for the past several years, I have always found it fascinating to hear the stories of people who once worked in the financial world but left it behind to purse their true passion. Elina’s story fits right in with so many others. She spent twenty years in Moscow as a high executive in corporate sales, but she told me that she never had the feeling that she was doing “something good for society.” She continuously questioned, “Why am I here?” She did not enjoy the politics going on within the corporate world, and when she moved to New York, she initially decided not to re-enter the job market. She came with her husband and began contemplating her next move. She immersed herself in yoga and stayed with it for the next ten years.

Once Elina received her green card, she ended up back in a corporate position, but felt it was always a “contradiction.” Practicing yoga in the morning and then sitting in front of a computer did not make sense to her. She was constantly feeling the “urgency and the stress. It was always in my heart to be searching for what I should do next.”

In 2016, Elina was practicing yoga on 72nd Street when she noticed that the tailor across the hall had vacated his space. Peeking inside, she saw the arches above the windows and the light shining in and said, “Oh my goodness, I have to have this.” Within one week she signed a lease. “Without making two plus two, I then began thinking of what I was going to do.” She pondered how her concept could complement yoga and came up with the Tea House. “It made perfect sense, as Buddhism, Zen, and Yoga all flow together through tea.”

Reflecting, Elina told me that tea had been a part of her life since she was a little girl. Her dad would have a cup every afternoon. So the more she considered the idea, the more it seemed that tea was the way to go. “We are always running somewhere – to be on time for something. There’s no space in our lives to pause, sit, and reflect. Tea is a good excuse to do this.”

Immediately after making her decision to turn her precious space into a tea salon, Elina began studying the layers of the 5000-year-old history of tea in China. She traveled to the country and became fascinated with every aspect of tea’s history. “No one has any idea how much tea is in China.” I learned that 97% or so of the leaves never even leave the country. “China is the mother of the tea – the depth behind the philosophy of the tea is mind boggling.” Elina knew that she wanted to incorporate meditation into her space and to demonstrate how tea has been used in ceremonies throughout the centuries. None of her tea is mass produced – each tea leaf is handmade with love by the farmers in China. According to Elina, “This is their life – it is filled with generations of passion for tea.”

“Everything came together for me in China,” Elina announced. She brought Roza Gazarian, a graphic designer who moved to the States from Armenia in 2004, onto her team. Roza also worked in the corporate world. Although Roza described her experiences as positive, she was ready to leave the pressure of a daily job. Upon her return from a year of travel around the world, during which she practiced Buddhism, Roza was asked by Elina to design the space for her new venture. During their conversation, Elina discovered that Roza had also always wanted a tea house. The two seem to have found perfect harmony in their relationship – Rosa is the creative force behind Floating Mountain, while Elina is all about the tea and the finances.

The two have created an idyllic space – simple but beautiful with a white oak counter, tatami mats, copper lighting, soft music playing in the background, and a few shelves dedicated to delicate, petite pieces of pottery. At Floating Mountain, guests are welcomed in, asked to remove their shoes, and then invited to take a seat at either the counter or on the floor. People are encouraged to “smell the tea, taste it, and then relax with it.” Elina and Roza find that many guests come by for one cup and then end up spending hours in the space. “Tea can get into your soul and soothe you,” Elina stated with certainty. The goal of Floating Mountain is to allow people to feel that they are in a different environment from anything else they have experienced. The two women hope that everyone will be able to enjoy the moments they spend in the tea house while relaxing and contemplating life.