Presstea: Tea With Oomph, Served With a Side of Fun

BY Channaly Oum TIMEFebruary 28, 2015 PRINT

If you thought tea was exclusively a delicate beverage, you haven’t been to Presstea.

At this airy, inviting West Village spot, it’s bold, full-bodied, and in many ways treated much like coffee.

Don’t be surprised to see these drinks on the menu, inspired by coffee but using tea instead: cappuccino, made with rose-accented black tea; latte, made with rooibos, drizzled over with caramel; and macchiato, made with green tea.

Tea drinks are built starting with one of five signature blends—with varying caffeine levels—including Wild Himalayan Black, Masala Chai, and Formosa Oolong, with flavorings added on. Iced teas, such as the refreshing Passion Fruit Formosa, make use of housemade fruit pureés.

Tea drinks range from $3.25 to $4.50 (and extra for flavorings and milk).

Tea and Bites

“Tea and food are synonymous in Asia,” said chef and owner George Kuan, who with cousin Richard Chen scoured the world’s best-known tea regions for tea to bring to his tea shop.

For tea with this much oomph to it—it’s brewed using a technique similar to espresso—cucumber sandwiches might well not be the right match.

The savory side is focused on fun, creative hybrids.

If you’re the type who can’t decide between a burrito and ramen, choose the Ramenrito ($9.95). I watched as Kuan prepared this Godzilla-sized creation. The mound of filling was stacked so high I would have wagered it would not fit into the wrap. But it did.

Kuan is particular about sourcing, so you’ll find fillings like grass-fed and grass-finished steak and pastured pork. Besides the steak, I’d also recommend the Chipotle Bechamel chicken—it was delicious, with a good touch of heat.

Most grass-fed cattle are fed grains shortly before slaughter. Grass-finished beef  graze on grass right up to slaughter.

Before opening Presstea, Kuan quit a career in finance and traveled around the world, working for free in restaurant kitchens to learn crafts and techniques from local chefs with an ardent local following.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the items he’s put together on the menu fuse various influences.

You can ask for the same fillings to go into a huge Ramendilla—you guessed it, a hybrid of quesadilla and ramen ($9.95)— or Pillow Tacos, sandwiched between exactly what the name alludes to, pillowy white dough. The latter are perfect if your appetite is less than gargantuan ($3.75 each). Each can be consumed in two or three bites.

On the sweet side, pastries include matcha madeleines and fleur de sel brownies. There is also a popular line of paleo pastries, including paleo donuts and chocolate chip cookie scones.

167 Seventh Ave. South (between Perry and Charles streets)
Monday–Thursday 8:30 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m.–10 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m.–10 p.m.
Sunday 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

Channaly Oum
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