By Ling-Mei Wong
Tea Do, or “way of tea,” marks the entrance of one of the few dedicated teahouses in Chinatown. While you can still satisfy your boba fix at one of the bakeries or Vietnamese restaurants, Tea Do puts the quality of their beverages first in a trendy space on Tyler Street.
Founded in Philadelphia in 2012, Tea Do arrived in Boston’s Chinatown with plenty of experience in pleasing their customers. The Boston location, which opened in March, keeps crowd-pleasing features such as games, vibrant decor and late hours, staying open until 1 a.m. Regular drinks are $3 while large ones are $4, keeping prices wallet-friendly. The Jenga-playing groups make this a lively teahouse — boba tea definitely does not provide the same experience as English high tea.
The classic boba milk tea ($3) nails just the right mix of black tea, cream and chewy boba. Be sure to specify how sweet you want your tea, along with how much ice you’d like, as the drinks tend to be on the sweet side. “Half sugar” is more than enough sweetness for me, as I prefer strong tea.
Among Tea Do’s specialty drinks is the “Sunset,” which features green tea mixed with kumquat, lemon and aloe jelly ($4). Tea Do uses real tea leaves rather than powder, a choice that becomes most evident in the taste of its green tea.
Japanese green milk tea ($3) is a matcha drink, which is easily confused for jasmine green milk tea ($3) on the menu.
The helpful clerks will typically check to make sure patrons get the right beverage, but do be careful when ordering.
Snacks are tasty and fairly quick at Tea Do. The takoyaki ($3.50) includes six scrumptious squid balls that are hot and topped with mayo and bonito flakes.
Onigiri, made-to-order rice wrapped in sheets of nori, or roasted seaweed, range from $2.50 to $3.50. The Kani, or crab onigiri ($2.50), was perfectly complemented by spicy mayo dipping sauce.
Spam onigiri ($2.50), fried spam enveloped in warm rice and crispy nori, also made for a satisfying snack.
Tea Do already has a number of fans, including Boston City Councilor and former teahouse owner Michelle Wu. With the right mix of tea, fun and lively ambiance, Tea Do has carved out a hip niche in Chinatown.
8 Tyler Street
Boston, MA 02111
This post is also available in: Chinese