The Tapioca Trend: Tea Houses in Houston
When Maggie Ballard and Juliana Aviles entered The Teahouse, the employees behind the counter greeted them by name, chatting while taking down their usual orders. It felt like a family reunion.
Maggie and Juliana, both rising seniors at St. John’s School, have been frequenting The Teahouse for years. They visit during the school year to work on homework while enjoying refreshing cups of boba, which is a type of tea served with chewy balls made of tapioca. But even in the lazy days of summer, the Teahouse in Rice Village is a popular hangout locale for teens. We sat down with Ballard and Aviles to talk about their passion for tea and this tea house.
Ryan Chang and Eli Maierson: Why do you love the Teahouse so much?
Juliana Aviles: Over the years, I’ve become addicted to tea. The Teahouse is super close to where I live, so it’s very convenient.
Maggie Ballard: I think that the Teahouse is a bit more casual than some other tea houses. It’s also a great place to work.
Ryan and Eli: How do you spend your time at the Teahouse?
Juliana: I really like getting my homework done at the Teahouse, but it can sometimes be hard to read when there are lots of people there.
Maggie: When I first started coming here, it was just to get tea. Once the school year started, I found that it was a great place to study. It helps separating that work environment from relaxing at home, and there aren’t many distractions at the Teahouse.
Ryan and Eli: What’s your go-to drink?
Juliana: Taro Coconut Cream Tea.
Maggie: Jasmine Green Cream Tea.
Ryan and Eli: What is your favorite part of the Teahouse?
Juliana: I’ve been coming here for so long that the people who work here recognize me and know my order. Whenever I show up, they know exactly what drink I want, and they’re always super friendly.
Maggie: I completely agree. One time, the employees here asked me what I thought of the new table setup. They’re always so sweet, and I want to work here someday.
The Teahouse is located at 2518 Rice Blvd. (see a list of other Houston-area locations here) and serves cream, iced and hot teas. It’s open from 10 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-1.a.m. Fri.-Sat. and noon-midnight on Sunday. The Teahouse is one of Houston’s many tea houses, which are extremely popular places to hang out, work or just enjoy some boba. Many students prefer the casual environment of these tea houses, where friends can relax and chat without extensive planning. Emily Chen, who graduated from St. John’s School and will attend Brown University in the fall, describes tea houses as “more versatile and fun” than coffee shops, which also increases their appeal to young people.
We rounded up a list of some of the popular tea houses across town:
Kung-Fu Tea: Founded in 2009 to serve authentic Taiwanese-style boba tea, Kung-Fu Tea is one of the most widespread tea house chains in the country. In addition to traditional boba and fruit teas, Kung-Fu Tea’s menu also includes slushes, milk and snow cream. 3224 Yoakum Blvd.; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Honey Art Cafe: Although Honey Art Cafe does serve hot and cold boba tea, its menu also features macarons, cakes, parfaits and other treats. Furthermore, the cafe offers weekly art lessons and displays its own curated selection of artwork for visitors to enjoy. Honey Art Cafe also hosts free artist meetups every Wednesday night. 3516 S Shepherd Dr.; Closed Mon., 5 p.m.-10p.m. Tues., 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 2 p.m.-midnight Fri., 11 a.m.-midnight Sat., noon-10 p.m. Sun.
Sharetea: Sharetea features creative paintings diagramming tea and a modern, casual environment in the heart of Chinatown. The menu also features Sharetea’s original TorDa tea dessert, which is a Taiwanese-style pancake filled with tea custard and other ingredients. 9889 Bellaire Blvd., Suite E213; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.
Juju Cup: Complete with creative wall art and Texans-themed cornholing, Juju Cup offers its own spin on the tea house formula. They also have many board games and books for customers to enjoy. Juju Cup also serves casual lunch fare such as fried rice and fried chicken. 5901 Bellaire Blvd.; 10 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. daily.
Tea Bar and Organics: A café founded in 2010, TBO serves organic tea and a variety of noodle bowls and rice plates. The location in Rice Village offers a serene environment that makes it a great place for people who want to work or just relax. 2408 Rice Blvd.; 11 a.m.-11:45 p.m. daily.
What are your favorite tea houses? Comment below.
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