Bring on the honey, lemon and milk: shop-and-cafe-lined Newbury Street in Boston’s posh Back Bay neighborhood is getting a new member of its pack: A modern day tea house named ÉgaliTea Organic Cafe, set to open in early July.
Owner Angela Niu grew up steeped in her native Chinese culture, where tea is king, but here in Boston — where options are limited to sugary bubble tea, or tea bag café fare, or experiential high tea services — she struggled to find a quality, everyday tea experience.
Niu decided to fill the gap herself. “I see a blank market for a modern tea house where you can serve freshly brewed fine tea,” she says.
ÉgaliTea will offer a wide selection of fine teas by cup in the summer and by pot in the winter and served hot, iced or loose. All are certified organic, and often fair trade and kosher.
Niu isn’t a fan of blended teas, though she may add one or two for the sake of having options.
“That’s another problem I find on the market,” she says. “As someone who comes from a country with a very deep tea history, I find the blends not really to be tea.” Her goal is to provide the pure, fresh tea experience she grew up with.
For food, the café will provide smoothies, acaï and yogurt bowls, bagels and soups. On really scorching days, one of four tea-infused ice creams — Earl Grey, jasmine, matcha and Assam — will cool the palate.
It was important to Niu to have a healthy menu and to be environmentally conscious. All food will be served in eco-friendly containers that are non-toxic, renewable, and compostable or recyclable.
For Niu, this is very much a passion project, and it hasn’t been all smooth sailing getting ready for business. She runs operations by herself, while also working her full-time job at a chemical pharmaceutical firm. Her background is in chemistry, and she’s worked in a lab initially before deciding to pursue her dream of a more creative business.
Working solo doesn’t just mean mountains of work. “I started looking for a space in September, and they all turned me down,” says Niu. Because she’s a solo, female, first-time business owner, landlords were suspicious of working with her.
But, despite the setbacks, Niu is excited to launch and to bring a new tea experience to the heart of Boston. If it means one more way to take 10 minutes to relax, we are, too.