Two more bubble tea franchises arrive
by Britain Woodman
From the March, 2020 issue
Two more bubble tea shops, Tea Ninja and Ding Tea, opened near Central Campus in January. Each is within a block from Chatime, one of last year's new arrivals, and a couple of Chinese restaurants on William Street that have offered bubble tea for years.
Both offer a variety of tea, coffee, and juice drinks, shaken or blended with ice and boba--chewy, sweet tapioca balls with a texture like firm Jell-o--slurped along with the beverage through an oversize straw. (See "Boba Battle," Restaurants, February.)
Ding Tea is a franchise of an international chain based in Taiwan, boasting more than 100 locations in North America. Tea Ninja, on Liberty near Maynard, is a Chicago-based tea shop's first franchise outside Illinois.
While both stores have a row of stools by the front window that offer great people-watching, Ding Tea's refined decor is inspired by Instagram posts, with a wall of greenery, a glass-tiled chair rail, and a "confessions board" of anonymous notes written by patrons and employees. Tea Ninja has a bolder aesthetic in black and yellow, with a neon sign in the foyer and a mural on one wall showcasing toppings and flavors in a Pac-Man maze.
The owners of each store were busy helping their counter staffs with steady streams of customers when we visited and were unavailable for comment by press time.
Ding Tea, 607 E. William, Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. facebook.com
Tea Ninja, 535 E. Liberty, (734) 263-2772. Mon.-Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-10 p.m. facebook.com
[Originally published in March, 2020.]
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