Tea Houses

476. Kawaii Bubble Tea – June 21, 2020 – Clinton Township, MI

June2020Kawaii1 (2)June2020Kawaii2 (3)Summer heat can cause us to seek out refreshing moments of respite. Kawaii Bubble Tea is ready to facilitate such an experience!

The Clinton Township-based shop serves bubble tea, also known as boba tea. The drink originated in Taiwan and is an infusion of tea, sweetened milk and/or flavorings, ice, and tapioca pearls or jellies.

Kawaii offers fruit teas and milk teas. You choose your tea – black, green, or passion  – and up to two flavor enhancers. With the fruit teas, you can choose from flavors such as Strawberry, Lychee, Green Apple, and Mango; with the milk teas, options such as Bubblegum, Spiced Chai, and Cookies N Cream. Both fruit and milk teas can be poured over ice or blended with ice to make slushies.

And of course, there’s the pièce de résistance: the boba! At Kawaii, you choose from three different kinds of boba: the traditional pearl, which is dark and chewy and made from tapioca; the Popping Pearls, explained on its website as “juice balls that burst and disintegrate”; and Coconut Jellies, which are described as “firm and chewy” and of the three, closest resemble candy to me. The Popping Pearls and Coconut Jellies come in a variety of flavors.

Confession time: prior to visiting Kawaii, I’d not been a bubble tea person. I learned about it in high school and was excited to try it but found the tapioca pearls distracting rather than whimsical. I decided it wasn’t for me – until recently.

I found myself increasingly intrigued by Kawaii’s signage, the cute cartoon fox logo and “i”s dotted with hearts in its name. And from scoping out the shop’s menu online, I learned it served Thai tea. I was sold. I even decided I’d opt for the boba; experiencing them again would be an adventure. In this action-starved quarantine time, any adventure, large or small, was a win in my book!

I walked into the shop on a Sunday afternoon and took a spot in line, constituting one of the four customers allowed inside at once due to COVID-19 guidelines. A chalkboard mounted above the counter displayed the shop’s offerings, while the counter itself proffered brightly-colored macarons (a tantalizing possibility to ponder!) and other snacks.

I went for the large Thai tea served over ice and traditional tapioca pearls, downing half of the sweet, milky beverage on the car ride home. When the first tapioca pearl entered my mouth, I was surprised. I’d expected the eating of the boba to be a deliberate exercise, but many of them slid up the canal of the thick straw without effort.

I was also surprised by the fact that I didn’t mind the boba this time around. They struck me as mostly flavorless, with a faint hint of celery (anyone else taste that?). As I chewed and chewed and chewed (there were a lot of boba in my drink), I found them growing on me; they were pretty fun to eat. The tapioca pearls have distinctly moved out of the Distracting category and into the Whimsical. (Thanks for converting me, Kawaii!)

As of the writing of this post, Kawaii Bubble Tea is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. It is also currently carryout only; you can order online via its website or downloadable app or in-person at the shop. Please see its website for additional ordering guidelines – and enjoy the refreshing respite it offers!

43301 Garfield Rd.

Clinton Township, MI 48038

www.kawaiibubbletea.com

434. Tou & Mai – September 22, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019TouandMai1 (4)Tou & Mai, satisfying my Thai iced tea cravings!

I visited Thailand in January of this year and became enchanted with one of its signature drinks, the Thai iced tea – a yummy concoction of black tea and sweetened condensed milk. I’d not had one of those delectable babies since being back in the states and had vowed all summer that I’d hunt one down here at home.

It took me until a Sunday afternoon in late September (LOL) to finally focus on this objective. At least I achieved it before summer was officially over – and at least the weather was sunny and summer-like, with a high temperature in the upper 80s.

My Thai iced tea break at Tou & Mai occurred after a browsing session of shops – including Hugh, Source Booksellers, and Nora – in the Midtown/Cass Corridor area of Detroit.

While I knew exactly what I wanted, I browsed the tea shop’s menu while waiting in line. Tou & Mai’s signature offering is boba tea (also known as bubble tea), tea drinks with chewy tapioca pearls and/or jellies added to them.

Tou & Mai’s drink menu is separated into categories: Flavoured Fruit Tea (fruity drinks with a green-tea base); Flavoured Milk Tea (dairy-infused black teas); Real Fruit Smoothie (drink blends including varieties such as Red Adzucki Bean and Creamy Avocado); Extra Special Treat (next-level goodies such as the Litchi Mohito mocktail and the Peaches & Cream slushie infused with vanilla ice cream); and Vietnamese Caffé Latté (which, like the Thai iced tea, incorporate condensed milk).

The Toppings section of Tou & Mai’s menu includes such intriguing drink add-ins as Kiwi Popping Boba, Mango Popping Boba, Coffee Jellie, and Flan Custard.

Tou & Mai isn’t simply a boba tea shop; it’s also what it refers to on its website as an “Asian Mini Mart,” offering grocery items from Southeast Asia such as candy, cookies, condiments, and noodles. It’s also a place that celebrates the owners’ Hmong heritage, selling embroidered, hand-crafted goods made by Hmong artisans.

The Hmong people comprise an ethnic group with its origins in Southeast Asia. I’d admittedly been ignorant of the Hmong’s existence until a few months ago, when I watched an episode of CNN’s United Shades of America featuring them and their story.

The Hmong were recruited by the U.S. government to aid America in the fighting of the Vietnam war. Post-war, many of them fled their homes in fear of persecution for being American allies, and some ended up in the U.S., including here in the Metro-D. According to Tou & Mai’s website, a small Hmong community still exists here today.

So Tou & Mai is much more than the place that quite deliciously satisfied my appetite for Thai iced tea on a sunny September Sunday: it’s a boba tea shop/grocer/celebrator of culture. And it’s definitely worth a visit!

4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 102

Detroit, MI 48201

www.touandmai.com

237. Tonia’s Victorian Rose – March 21, 2017 – Rochester, MI

20170321_125022 (2)20170321_113006 (2)20170321_115355 (2)Happy Friday, guys! I hope you’re looking ahead to a weekend open to much fun and exploring. I’ve got some good plans on the docket for the next few days, including visiting a brand-spanking-new local brewery tonight (counting down the minutes until happy hour as I type!), so look out for more new posts soon.

Today is all about my recent lunch visit to Tonia’s Victorian Rose, a tea room located in downtown Rochester.

OK, so I know the term “tea room” is probably not the most ear-perking one for many of ya, but let me assure you, Tonia’s Victorian Rose is straight-up delightful. A coworker treated me and another gal to lunch there Tuesday, and once I stepped into its soothing lilac-walled, sunshine-kissed, vintage-tunes-infused, grandly-grandmotherly interior, I didn’t want to leave. I was like, “Can we go get our laptops and hunker down with pots of tea and work here the rest of the afternoon?” Seriously – because pretty much this joint is the antithesis of my corporate day-job office. It has good vibes, is what I’m saying.

As you’d expect, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose showcases a multitude of teas, including intriguing flavors such as Acai Pomegranate Blueberry Green Tea and Lavender Earl Grey as well as various decaffeinated options. I enjoyed a pot of decaf Earl Grey.

And the food there was great! I appreciated the selection offered, which surprised me for a tea room menu. I expected the few typical choices: chicken salad, mini sandwiches of the cucumber and egg-salad varieties, the requisite scones. And yes, there are chicken salad and scones on the menu, and you can get trays of those OG mini tea-party sandwiches if you make a reservation ahead of time. But there are also: sandwich varieties that you might not expect, such as the Italian Chicken and the Grilled Veggie Focaccia; crepes of both the sweet and savory varieties; two kinds of quiches; pot pie; and several soup and salad choices.

I ordered the Extreme Victorian Rose Salad, a mash-up of two of the salads on the menu, the Cashew Chicken and the Victorian Rose. To be honest, I was confused about what I was ordering; I somehow missed that the Cashew Chicken Salad was a chicken salad of the aforementioned chicken-mixed-up-with-mayonnaise variety. I’m generally not a fan of chicken salad, so I was bummed by my misstep. But I ate it, and let me tell you: it was excellent! I loved the raspberry vinaigrette on the leafy part of the salad, the cashews mixed into the chicken-salad part, and the juicy mandarin oranges. The dish also came with a cranberry-orange scone accompanied by this awesome whipped butter with orange zest mixed in.

And then, there was dessert! Yes, the menu of Tonia’s Victorian Rose also offers various desserts, such as the rose-flavored ice cream topped with a dried (and edible) rosebud we enjoyed as a palate cleanser and conclusion to this tasty and tranquil meal.

118 W 3rd St.

Rochester, MI 48307

(Open 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday)

www.toniasvictorianrose.com

99. Just Delicious Scones – January 19, 2015 – Roseville, MI

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I had today off from work for Martin Luther King day, so this afternoon seemed like the perfect time to be leisurely ladies who lunch and visit Just Delicious Scones. For a set price (under $12 a person for us) you can have tea, a plate of the most delicious scones, and lunch of either quiche or chicken salad. I am not a quiche or chicken salad person, to be honest, but I chose the quiche, and it wasn’t bad (I don’t like eggs, but I was surprised to find it wasn’t really that eggy tasting), and it came with a delicious little side salad. And I ate either four-and-a-half or five-and-a-half scones – I lost count! Soft, delicious scones of all different flavors are offered, with Devon cream and lemon curd to top them – yum! I ate so much I got a stomachache. So watch out for that part!

This is Number 99! I can’t believe it. Next one is the big one . . ..

28722 Utica Rd.
Roseville, MI 48066

82. Socra Tea – November 8, 2014 – Detroit, MI

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I loved Socra Tea. It is exactly the kind of cozy, ambient place where you can relax and chat with a friend or get your focus on. The tea is delicious, but I think what I liked best about the place is that there are so many offerings by local artisans for sale here, from pottery and hand-crafted notecards to silk-flower barrettes and quirky stuffed animals with plastic doll faces. The display of local creativity is very heartening. Check out the website below – you can buy some of these wares online, too.

71 Garfield St., Suite 50

Detroit, MI 48201

http://www.socrateadetroit.com