It's a straightforward name, and true so far as it goes, but the Herbal Jelly with Mixed Beans and Tapioca ($3) at Chinatown tea shop Teado may not be what you expect.
The small paper cup has cubes of wobbly grass jelly on top, floating in their inky, midly herbal broth. Dig deeper and you'll find Teado's excellent tapioca pearls, which lie at the perfect intersection of tender and chewy. Deeper still is a mess of barley, red beans, and lotus seeds—starchy and cereal-tasting on their own, subtly sweet with the surrounding grass jelly broth.
Together they make a dessert that you could call a loose breakfast soup. It's part refreshing and part health food, with only a mild sweetness that may take a few slurps to get used to. But I'm quite taken with its subtlety, especially as an end to a Chinese meal nearby.
Despite the small size, it's pretty dense—you could share it easily with a friend. And it's good for all seasons: you can order it hot or cold.
145D Hester Street, New York, NY 10002 (map)