A teahouse chain with more than 100 outposts in China is bringing tea topped with cheese to Greenwich Village, where it will open its first U.S. location.
The Asian teahouse Debutea will serve high-end teas and coffees, desserts and — most importantly — Taiwan cheese tea, according to a news release from the real estate team that arranged the company’s Manhattan lease.
“Cheese tea,” as the drink’s name translates from Mandarin, is iced tea crowned with a layer of slightly sweet and salty whipped cheese cream that covers and complements its bitterness. According to Condé Nast Traveler, the basic recipe originated in Taiwan around 2010, using cheese powder instead of real cheese, and it has since spread to cafés across Asia. Food & Wine reports that the beverage served in plastic cups has attracted long lines in China, vying for bubble milk tea in popularity.
“Tea culture has a long history in China already, but bitterness at the beginning when people drink it is off-putting for some younger people. We wanted to add a new flavor that young people would like,” the CEO of HEYTEA tea house, one of cheese tea’s first purveyors, told CN Traveler.
Debutea is betting that flavor will also appeal to area students and other American millennials: “Debutea has chosen the heart of Greenwich Village, known for its stylish and trendy scene, to bring the freshest frenzy, a high-quality, Instagram-worthy concept, not just serving the millennials and the NYU student population but also the surrounding residents,” Faith Consolo, a real estate agent affiliated with Douglas Elliman, said in the release.
The teahouse chain has inked a 10-year deal for the roughly 1,020-square-foot space, leasing at $220 per square foot, at 217 Thompson St., according to Douglas Elliman. Its opening date has yet to be announced.
Debutea won’t be the first business to sell cheese tea in New York City: Happy Lemon, a teahouse established in 2006 in Shanghai, with one location in Flushing and a second in Sunset Park, sells milk, green and black teas with a layer of salted cheese on top.