First look: Ante, the new on-trend tea shop offering tea blends and booze-spiked teas

Ante’s signature drinks. Photo by Kaka Corral

When Filipinos say “tea,” they usually either mean milk tea with pearls, traditional Chinese tea served in ceramic pots, or English high tea in one of Manila’s posh hotels. Rarely does it ever connote something hip or edgy — but that might be about to change starting today, with the opening of Ante in Greenbelt.

Ante is a tea and lifestyle brand that offers cold-brewed teas infused with fresh fruits and quality tea leaves. Coconuts Manila visited its pop-up booth in events space Whitespace on Wednesday, which acted as a preview of its upcoming stall in Makati’s Greenbelt 5.

Ante’s fitting room with merchandise inside. Photo by Kaka Corral
Ante’s fitting room, with merchandise inside. Photo: Kaka Corral
Shirts and baseball caps. Photo by Kaka Corral
Branded shirts and baseball caps. Photo: Kaka Corral
Ante’s media launch attendee Gabi Mercado posing with its merch and tea. Photo by Kaka Corral
Ante’s media launch attendee Gabi Mercado posing with its merch and tea. Photo: Kaka Corral

“Ante is for those people who dare to challenge the status quo,” Ante founder Lorenzo Vega told Coconuts Manila during its launch event. “It is our mission to push things forward. That’s who we are.”

So how does a brand make drinking tea — an activity steeped in tradition — edgy enough to entice the millennial crowd? It’s in the details. The menu display in the shop, for instance, is made out of acrylic, and changes color depending on how the light hits it.

And, rather than having tons of tea options on offer, Ante only has three signature cold brewed teas: Blacker Berry, Sunday Candy, and Ultralight Green, all priced at PHP150 (US$2.81) each.

The drinks are served in minimalist bottles that look more like tumblers you’d find in Urban Outfitters than the usual plastic cups used in many modern tea shops.

Where Ante really departs from the norm and the traditions of tea, however, is blurring tea time with aperitif time: Customers are given the option to add booze to their teas for an additional PHP100 (US$1.88).

Ante's concoctions. Photo by Kaka Corral
Ante’s tea concoctions. Photo: Kaka Corral

The Coconuts Manila crew tried all three tea offerings. The Blacker Berry is a pure amber color, with a pure, strong black tea flavor that gets dressed up with fresh lemon, strawberries, and mint leaves. It’s refreshing, yet full-bodied enough that you’d enjoy taking slow sips to savor the layers of flavor.

The Sunday Candy, on the other hand, is a sweetened red tea mixed with fresh strawberries, lemon, and mint leaves — this one turned out to be our favorite.

The Ultralight Green, a light green tea made with apples, oranges, lemons, and mint leaves, sounds promising — but when we tried it, the flavors somehow fell flat. We’re not green tea purists by any means, and enjoy our green tea brew blended with other flavors. This one left an odd aftertaste that we still can’t quite put our finger on, though.

Will you be trying Ante out? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us @CoconutsManila.

Ground Floor, Greenbelt 5, Legazpi St., Makati City

Sunday to Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday to Saturday 11am to 10pm

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