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SnoTea Caffe serves up frozen treats

Young tea house looks to compete with handful of cafes scattered throughout College Hill

SnoTea Caffe fosters a chic yet homey interior reminiscent of your favorite aunt’s living room. Lilac, deep purple and forest green mix along the walls, complementing the cushy black leather seats. Classic board games from Sorry to Mad Gab line one side of the cafe, and if only more students were to venture into the Waterman Street eatery, it would be the perfect place to sip on warm tea and dive into a boisterous game of Pictionary.

The atmosphere suffers slightly from a sense of emptiness and a seemingly hastily designed menu, though hopefully time will allow the tea house to gain its footing, because the new eatery — which opened in May — offers a number of options rarely found in Providence.

A West Coast staple, snow ice — alight dish prepared when an ice block is shaved down into delicate and creamy ribbons — provides a flavor absent from other College Hill favorites. SnoTea boasts a strong array of flavors, including green tea, dark roast coffee and mango, all of which can be paired with a variety of sauces — such as condensed milk or brown sugar sauce — and over 20 different toppings, such as boba and red beans.

The green tea ice paired with red beans features an exciting combination of melty and chewy textures. While the red beans were slightly undercooked on one visit, the ribbons of green tea offered a soothing escape from the muggy sidewalk. The dish comes beautifully presented, appearing almost like a head of lettuce in its green magnificence, and the green tea flavor pops even more with a slight drizzle of condensed milk.

For visitors with a strong sweet tooth, the restaurant also serves honey toast, crepes and macarons. Though macarons are another rare delicacy on College Hill, SnoTea’s version leaves something to be desired: A green tea macaron is too dense and buttery. The thick and overly sweet paste overwhelms any green tea flavor present.

Similarly, the iced earl grey milk tea with boba disappoints. Despite the drink’s beautiful hourglass cup and luxurious milk foam, it was too watery to benefit from the richness of the earl grey spices.  Unfortunately, with so many other tea options on Thayer Street, SnoTea will have to step up its game to compete.

While mostly focusing on teas and desserts, the menu offers a few substantive entree options, including steamed dumplings and a variety of cold noodles. The yakisoba dish is a deliciously colorful spectacle, with juicy strips of crabmeat, a light sprinkling of seaweed, chunks of pink fish cake and a few slices of delicate green celery. Each of the ingredients complements rather than overpowers the others, and the dish doesn’t suffer from the overbearing saltiness of many local soba options.

When catering to a campus of those who shun the mainstream, SnoTea Caffe might want to consider scrapping the Papyrus font disgracing its logo. Overall, the new cafe could certainly benefit from a little polishing, though with attentive and cheerful service, it may soon be on the right track.


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