Bottoms Up — June 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

Presstea: Changing the Way We Think About Tea

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presstea

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Presstea in the West Village; a café that has been open for one year and is gaining popularity by the minute. Not only was I able to taste some delicious pastries and tea, but I was also taught some important facts about tea in general. While at Presstea I came to the realization that everything I knew about tea is completely wrong. In America, we don’t take the time to savor the tea and properly prepare it. Co-Owner George Kuan and his team spent three and a half years developing their teas and they continue to further improve on it.

There are three things that sold me on this café; the philosophy, the wisdom, and the integrity of co-owner George Kuan, the vibe from his staff, and the overall authentic and goodness of the product itself. The outside of the café mirrors that of the inside; it’s cozy, comfortable, and inviting. There are rows of tea cups and tea pots that you can see lined up against the window and benches at the front of the store to sit down.

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I asked George Kuan whether he would be open to selling his teas at national stores. The answer that I received was the best answer he could have given me. He would sell it to some specific stores, but not the big national stores. Presstea started with visits to tea farms in Japan, China, Taiwan, India and South Africa, and George’s priority is that the farmers, as well as his brand, is not affected. The integrity shown by George Kuan is something that is rare to find nowadays, when just anyone will sign a contract with a big, well-known store just because they see a seven figure deal. The fact that George Kuan will not be moved by a seven figure deal is something that I respect and admire.

When I first walked inside I immediately saw how chill the café was. The workers seemed happy, the customers were relaxed as if they were in their own home and George Kuan was standing by, overlooking his creation. Kuan told me “Happy Staff, Happy Customer” and I couldn’t agree more. Customers enjoy going to places where the staff is nice and courteous, and more importantly, that they work well together as a team. It creates harmony for both the staff and customer.

Anyone that knows me knows that I am a big coffee and tea person. Every single Presstea drink begins with a signature blend: Wild Himalayan Black, Masal Chai, Formosa Green or Cape Town Rooibos; the styles are inspired by classic coffee preparations like Tea Latte, Tea Macchiato, Tea Cappuccino and Pressed Tea. The flavors come from fruit purees (passion fruit, peach and mango) and house-made syrups (simple, vanilla, rose, and lemonade). While at Presstea, I had the Rose Black Tea cappuccino, the Caramel Rooibos Latte, The Passion Fruit Green Tea, the Mango Rooibos and the Mont Black Crème, amongst many others. I am a very huge Caramel fan and, of course, one of my favorite was the Caramel Rooibos Latte, which I had both cold and hot. What I liked about the Caramel Rooibos Latte is that the caramel wasn’t so overpowering. The Mont Blanc Crème is an iced beverage that has a thick, foamy cap composed of steamed cream, which is slightly salty and sweet at the same time. The combination of the steamed cream with the pressed tea was unlike anything else I have ever tasted.

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The pastries are not to be left behind because the scones and the croissants are to die for. While I didn’t get a chance to try the famous Chocolate Earl Grey cookie — it’s so popular that it’s always sold out — I did get to try the Jasmine White Chocolate Green tea cookie. This cookie was so decadent that I felt it was my right to take my time savoring every morsel of that cookie. My plan of attack for the next time I stop by is to get there before the crack of dawn so that I can get my hands on one of those Earl Grey cookies. The pastries are the creations of George’s sister Theresa Lau and cousin Patty Chen. So Theresa and Patty, my hat goes off to you for a job well done.

After I left Presstea I knew that it had just made the list of my top five restaurants in New York City. It’s that good!  If you have not visited Presstea then I suggest you do because you are missing out. I asked George what his plans were for the next five years and he told me he wanted to expand and open more stores. So now all I can hope for is that one of those stores is a little bit closer to home so I can pop by for some more of those delicious Jasmine green tea and chocolate chip cookies to go with the Rose Black Tea Cappuccino.

Presstea is located at 167 7th Avenue South. 

Twisted Talk: Have you been to Presstea? What’s your tea of choice? Discuss below!


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