Plentea is a tea bar where the tea-drinking experience is unique. Owners Mohammed Binyahya and Tariq Al Barwani opened their first shop in Parkdale with a bunch of homemade tea recipes and a particular way of brewing them.
Being a self-proclaimed coffee addict, I didn't know quite what to expect from a tea bar, but I can gladly say I wasn't disappointed.
The space is open concept, designed by Steven Fong (the same person who designed the Beverley Hotel ), and the branding is by Wondermatter . With a sleek, modern interior the defining features are the huge light fixture hanging above the tea bar and the second level that overlooks the bar where the majority of the seating is located.
Looking for an energy boost, I order the Black Velvet, which is one of their specialty teas with a black tea base. Before my beverage is even ready, I am intrigued by the detail that goes into the tea-making process.
Mohammed and Tariq explain that this is a no tea bag concept. The back of the bar showcases over 20 jars of fresh herbs and spices that go into the different tea blends. Each cup is made-to-order and can be customized to your liking since nothing is pre-blended.
Every cup is strained through a speciality machine that looks like an espresso machine - think "teaspresso" - which is exactly what they call it. The Black Velvet is a rich cup of spice infused hot chocolate chai brewed with strong black tea. I am not disappointed, but rather extremely impressed as this is unlike any tea I've had.
I also try the Thai Dragon, a strong black tea with coconut, which holds the strength of the coffee I'm used to, but also offers a sweet and almost tropical taste.
Given how meticulously made the tea is, it's no surprise that the snacks offered are chosen solely on how well they pair with the drinks. Outsourced from Cinq Foods , Plentea offers a daily selection of fresh pastries (ranging from $2.95-$5.95) and sandwiches ($8.95).
Today, the options are banana loaf, french toast infused with caramel or a croissant loaf. Intrigued, I try the croissant loaf. It is both very buttery and very fresh.
I also try the chicken sandwich, which is one option among beef, turkey or egg salad for the vegetarian crew. The sandwiches are served cold, but delivered fresh each day.
Alongside the sandwich, I sample the Peach Breeze, a zesty and fresh tea that is iced instead of hot (all of their teas and coffees can be served iced or hot).
The Peach Breeze is one of their oolong teas and is a refreshing contrast from the strongly-brewed black teas I had started with.
For those looking for decaf - there is a selection of four herbal, decaffeinated tisane fruit teas. There is also the option of green tea, matcha tea and espresso-based drinks, which I can confidently say I don't even need after my energy boost from the black tea.
Along with the upstairs seating, the owners plan to place bar stools alongside the windows overlooking Queen Street and will add a couple of small patio tables outside, allowing about 30 people to dine-in at once.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.