Calamansi, honey, Moroccan mint. Lychee, elderflower, rosebuds. The menu reads like a cocktail list at an upscale, drinks-forward restaurant. And that’s exactly what Aniceto “JR” Rena wants you to think when you see his ingredient list, which doesn’t include a trace of alcohol.
UniTea Café may look like a homey boba shop in a circa-1865 building in downtown Leesburg. But its founder cut his teeth in the industry cooking for superstar chef José Andrés. Rena was seduced by creating cocktails in New York City at Cosme, known as much for its beverage program as its creative Mexican fare. That led to a stint at Pujol in Mexico City, widely recognized as one of the world’s best restaurants.
All this is to say, Leesburg is lucky that COVID brought Rena home. At UniTea, leaf lovers can focus on the traditional—from pu-erh to matcha—but the “family teas” and shakes, all named for Rena’s extended clan, are where guests can take advantage of his refined palate for fruits, teas, and unusual inclusions like chile salt, Rice Krispies, and mochi. For mocktail mavens, it’s time to unite over the best spirits-free drink list in NoVA.